Tag Archives: Blogging tricks

An Open Letter to Iridium Eye and Readers – This is the Truth about Blogging.

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here and this is a more serious, introspective post that directly references this one here, written by Ospreyshire. The title? “Top 7 Concerns I Have As a Film Critic and As a Fan”, and let that sink in really well for all of you… because these concerns hold value and merit beyond the scope of simple complaints.

Why am I inspired to write an open letter? Simple, because while it’s true that I directly commented, bloggers are by-and-large people that need to network. We directly rely upon each-other to uplift our communities… and when we don’t, our communities suffer for it.

People rarely talk about it from the human perspective.

The mindset is always “backlinking begets backlinking” and that’s true. Networking for that reason really is important… but no one talks about the human behind that screen, or the struggles they encounter when those backlinks don’t happen.

If even just one of you goes over to that post and takes something meaningful from it, I’ve done my job as a fellow blogger. As a blogger, support of the community, and backing your communities up in solidarity really matters.

Blogging is hard guys, really hard… and sometimes, it really sucks… but in the swell of “How-To” guides and you never see the downsides.

We like to pretend we have it easy, because no one wants to read headlines about the cold hard truth. Sometimes, being a blogger really hurts, and the uphill climb is one that can really stick into our craws and get us down.

So, I’m going to break down these 7 concerns, because EVERY BLOGGER taking themselves even halfway seriously has them. For those of you who aren’t bloggers, this post can help you see why we often feel the burn-out or stress that we do.

So, let’s dive into this. Ospreyshire begins his top 7 list with a simple, but common problem.

7: Sometimes I’ve been paranoid about what I post.

On a top 7 list, it’s funny to me that this one falls on the lowest rung, but it’s undeniably true. Any blogger that takes themselves seriously considers very heavily the kind of content they post. Bloggers truly care about the image they reflect while doing so.

We don’t want to be misconstrued, misunderstood, or directly and flat out misquoted. We risk that all the time, and when we’re discussing contriversial opinions, that can be problematic.

The industry of blogging can be cut throat. Social media can be nasty and no blogger worth their salt wants to make a post that will somehow offend the messes on pure principle. We don’t want to be hated for an opinion, even if it’s not the same as everyone else.

In his post, ospreyshire says this: “This one may surprise you given how strong my opinions can be with certain movies, series, or when I mention real-life implications, but I do feel this way. Not for every single review, but the ones where I may bring up unorthodox opinions.”

It’s true though… look, some people may not care what other people think. Some people may stand so firm in their belief that they need to speak out in spite of the fear. Even so, this is the internet.

Being able to stand your ground on a personal belief that you truly believe in… that can be just as hard as doing it face-to-face.

It can be hard not to nod your head and follow the crowd when you truly don’t agree with it. I encountered this very problem with my post The Problem With Lady Dimitrescu. People HATE that post, all the comments, few though they are, are negative… they don’t like my opinion, and that’s okay.

No one has to agree with me, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but let the facts stand as they are… I’ve thought about taking it down, I’ve wondered if I should… but I can’t do that to myself. I feel too strongly about that character. If I took down that post, I’d be removing something that I felt strongly about just so that I don’t anger people…

It happens though… bloggers can have opinions that sometimes aren’t widely accepted as orthodox. Sometimes, we wonder about how we’re seen and viewed by others because of it…

That’s okay… sometimes that’s the reality you face when you’re putting yourself out there… Blogger, YouTuber, Twitch streamer… it happens…

6: I’ve wondered why some posts get more views than others especially when some of my favorite posts don’t get much attention.

If you’ve never blogged or put yourself out there before in the media sphere, have no idea just how true this is… it’s a visceral reality.

You write a post you believe will knock it out of the park, and you don’t. Other times, your post will fluke out and you’ll see 100’s of views or more when you doubted it would even breach half of that.

That’s the luck of the draw, your social media following, and a bunch of other factors. Some blog posts will hit, others will miss. Unless you’re following every massive and major event on the planet, you’re going to post things that just won’t get a lot of attention sometimes.

However, when you spend hours working this blogging craft of yours to perfection and you get so little in return, it can be a punch in the gut. Growing takes time, and so does outside validation.

Ospreyshire mentions this: “I wondered if it was because I watched something too obscure or maybe what I wrote was boring. There are certain reviews I could name (including one that got a 10/10 that no one paid attention to), but I don’t want to have a pity party with my portfolio. I do wonder why this was the case.”

That’s just it, though… bloggers don’t want to sound like we’re complaining. It’s not about that. We don’t want pity parties, but we do like to know why our audience enjoys what they do. That’s why we need your feedback as readers. Why did you like the post? Why did it resonate with you?

If you’re a blogger yourself, this is your bread and butter. You need to know… we all need to know. Analytics are only half of the story, but a lot of the time, it’s the only half we get. That can be confusing. We don’t always know why things hit and miss the way they do unless we have an active community.

5: I hope I don’t repeat myself too much when it comes to times when I’m not trying to do so to prove a point.

There’s a fine line here, and it’s a line a lot of bloggers second guess or struggle to find. Iteration is a core tenant of the written craft. Reminders and call-backs to earlier posts help to build our narrative cadence. That is generally the factor readers will cling onto.

Still, there comes a time when that same repetition and iteration feels stale. Like all authors, bloggers do struggle with this too.

The written word can feel weak when you’ve looked at the same blog post for days on end trying to make sure that you’ve done your talking points justice. .. and to prove that point I’m not going to do that here.

This is a write-and-toss open letter… why?

I personally struggle with this problem often enough myself. When you desire a clear cut-carefully written piece of work, you’ll go to great lengths to achieve it… but I don’t want this post to be careful, I want it to be honest.

Sometimes, inevitably… you’ll scowl at the words upon your post and wish it was paper you could crumple in the trash. I will surely feel that exact same way about this post later, but if I don’t stand my ground, I’m all just talk.

Be a blogger for long enough, be passionate about honing your skill tirelessly enough, and the backspace key won’t feel sufficient for the discontent you’ll feel. When your writing isn’t the standard you want to set, it will stick in your craw…

It is incredibly frustrating when that happens… but, that’s okay… seriously, it’s okay

You can feel that discontent, let it hone you, let it shape you… let it mold you… that’s your journey as a blogger. If you strive for self-improvement, if you desire to get better, that discontentment will be at your back often enough. Let it be gasoline to your fire, not the thing that wears you down.

It’s hard, it won’t be easy… and if you find yourself having a hard time, just know you’re not alone in that. Just because we don’t say it enough as a community, that doesn’t mean we don’t feel that way too every now and then.

You’re really not alone out there.

This might sound trite, but we are our own worst critics. Particularly when constructive critique is the name of the game.

Blogging lends itself to a certain level of negative feedback loop. When we don’t get comments or likes, that can conflate our own harsh criticisms of the writing we do… as bloggers we have to check that fear at the door and be okay with occasional imperfection.

No one is perfect, our posts won’t always be either.

4: There could be a disconnect between my readers and followers.

I wish more bloggers brought this fact up. It’s a disservice I think, when we don’t want to admit that this does happen. However, this is to be entirely expected. As people, we generally have more than one interest.

The truth is, not all of those interests will entirely align with our readers. That’s just fine, but it is a little burdensome when you consider yourself a seriously passionate blogger.

Ospreyshire touches upon this detail earnestly saying: “I totally get why a bunch of my anime reviews get a lot of attention since I follow a lot of anibloggers, but I believe not many people are interested in multiple documentaries or serious live-action films more often than not.”

There will always be a disconnect to a degree, I think. When you blog passionately, and yet in a way that isn’t streamlined into one core demographic, that’s occasionally the outcome.

Here on The Demented Ferrets, we are very similar in content diversity and style. Kresh is mostly on the Twitch side of things, but you see her on the streaming archive content I post up all the same.

Ruka is our artist and doesn’t post much. When she does, art and history is her passion, and that often has little to do with gaming or anime. She loves photography, and the majority of her posts are about the art world and images she’s taken.

This “catch-all” mindset is often antithetical to blogging. Blogs tend to be more focused, because that’s how you play the game on google to get more views. A single blogger may have 2, 3, 4 or more blogs all revolving around a particular topic to separate their reader-bases into the big buzzword known as a “niche”.

I don’t really do that here. You get a full taste of all kinds of things. Topics run the gambit from writing guides, my thoughts on blogging, anime related content, gaming related content and artsy-fartsy posts… and now, I gues I’m doing open letters too, because why the hell not?

I feel strongly about this post. Our blog and website is the HOME of The Demented Ferrets. Therefore, it’s the creative space where I hope that I can bring you something valuable.

This is the true nature of the people behind the screens. We’re not just reviewers or critics, we’re people. Complex and with lives that span beyond the mediums we discuss… so often though, our content is the only baseline that can be used to measure the value of a blogger on the internet… and that value, what is it really?

I don’t have that answer.

I wish I did, but I don’t… and that makes that disconnect we occasionally feel all the more prominent. It’s there, of course it is, and every blogger out there will encounter this problem if they’re passionate about the craft. It’s just that, at the end of the day we need to measure what we find valuable in a different way.

Self-validation is a tool we need to use, and yet there are times it will feel like a review simply shouts into the void, never to be seen. For all bloggers out there, our personal view of the blogging medium is the hill we choose to stand on.

To those most passionate, it’ll be the hill we die on too.

3: I have moments where I think I’m worthless

I know this feeling, I think a lot of people know this feeling… and when we feel this way it absolutely sucks… but to a degree, it’s true for all of us in the arts, crafts, and critique of those things.

However, there’s another way to look at this. It might seem a little harsh, but hear me out…

99% of everyone’s opinion is complete and total crap according to someone. Your thoughts, your views, your grains-of-salt will be worthless to the vast majority out there. There are 7.753 billion people in the world…

So yeah, our views won’t resonate with the vast majority of people, unless that view is widely accepted on principle in the first place.

However that 1% of the world makes up MILLIONS of people. That’s right, millions. Finding those people takes time, it takes effort, and sometimes it takes a lot of emotional internal conflict with yourself until you’ve reached the point you feel successful.

Nobody shows you the B-sides in their life.

The lackluster attempts, the failures, the nights spent awake feeling like they’re worthless too… we don’t show that. I’ll be honest… I have felt worthless when it comes down to my personal ambitions too.

This is why Ospreyshire’s post resonated so damn heavily with me. I cannot tell you how many times over these years of life that Ruka and I have sat on the phone, saying how worthless we feel. How, we felt as if we’d be further in our lives by now… that we feel as if we haven’t reached the bare minimum status quo we should have by now.

I love blogging, but there’s a downside to it.

Blogging is this strange sort of beast. Numbers and analytics jump out at you. They’re like the little whisper in the back of your mind, telling you how valuable a blogger you are. You watch the numbers go up, then down, then back up again.

So, when you get your first 100, starting out, you feel empowered. You hit your first 1,000 and you think to yourself “I’m getting somewhere…”

But it is a lot of up and down…. when your baseline raises, your expectations of further growth rise too… so when in a month you hit your first 1,000, but then in the next you drop to 800, it can feel like a kick in the gut.

Questions 6 and 7 just jump back at you.

The mind starts to race. You try to figure out why. Questions like: Why did I do so well last month? Why am I not doing so well this month? Oh my god, was it something I posted? Did I upset my readers? Did I alienate them by mistake? What did I do so wrong?!?!

And I have wondered about myself many times. I think to myself: What did I do… why am I such a god damn failure?

It all kicks you in the face… then you get up and try again. The next month you’re at over 1,000 again. It feels like you’ve picked up the steam. The month after that you may be at 1,500 or so, and it’s all going well… but then the downward spiral strikes again.

When you plummet back down to under 1,000, you feel like you’ve been kicked off of the moutian once again.

As a blogger, it’s always going to be an up-hill climb. Especially when a lot of places want you to have 10,000 – 100,000 readers a month just to partner with them…

Ospreyshire isn’t the only one struggling, we ALL struggle with that… but if we admit that to our readers, we feel like we’re just being whiny. They don’t want to read our failures. They just want to read the success, and move onto the next thing.

That’s not anyone’s fault… it’s just a hard truth of being a blogger.

When the going gets tough, sometimes it gets REALLY tough… and like anything you’re passionate about, sometimes it just really hurts.

2: I need to work harder than other bloggers.

I feel this one in my bones. I feel it in my head, and I feel it in my heart. I work hard, very hard, to provide the best content that I can. I want it to just be good enough.

When you spend hours in a day writing something you hope will be valuable, it can be very taxing emotionally.

This post alone is now 3 hours into writing it, and I know there will be another one at least as a lament over my choice of words, the flow of the cadence in my writing, and if what I’ve written will really stick with anyone reading this.

Even as a write-and-toss, it’s still important to me to get it right.

Hell, I don’t even know if you’ll make it down this far. The post is long as it is, and getting longer by the second as I continue to type. Will anyone read this far down?

If you have, let me know in the comments… no really… that’s not a shameless request… I’m asking because… well, when you put yourself into the post, like I am here, and Ospreyshire did in his, you’ve just really got to wonder about that.

Seriously, you wonder… I wonder, if I’m just shouting into the void. If anyone will take value from what I’m saying.

Ospreyshire says this directly: “I’m sure I mentioned something similar in one of my 2020 Top 7 lists, but this still applies. It has been embarrassing finding typos or having to update certain posts if something changed like distributors or timestamping certain posts when something happens. It’s a long story.”

All bloggers work their fingers to the bone when they want to be good at what they do, but it isn’t exactly a natural talent. We each have to work incredibly hard, and in vastly different ways… but I think that’s the struggle we all face down personally.

We don’t see the struggles of others, so we feel like we’re working harder, longer, clawing our way through the muck while everyone else has an easier ride… we see what others do, we want to be as good as them, we hope we can be.

That’s the hard work and effort of a successful blogger, but we don’t always breach past the void on that alone…

We’re always updating, we’re always going back, we’re always bending over backwards to get to the place we *want to be* as bloggers. For every success story of how someone hit that prestigious 100,000 views a month milestone, there’s hundreds more of us that will never reach it.

My posts are riddled with spelling errors sometimes. I jokingly say that I have gulf-balls for eyes… but in a way it’s true. I go back and update too. I edit, and re-edit, and then go back and edit again… and even then sometimes I’m still not happy with it.

When we don’t pay an editor, we don’t have a second pair of eyes. We will miss things, but the nature of the medium doesn’t allow us to sit on posts for months on end. We’re not like book authors.

In the publishing medium the rule of three often applies. When writing a book, you’ll have three or more projects at once sometimes. One already written, sitting in a corner to age like fine wine. One in the writing phase, and one in the back-burner for consideration and possible outlining.

After your book ages and you’ve had time away from it, you can revisit it with a fresh pair of eyes, work on it again and send it to a proper editor.

Blogging doesn’t allow for that, especially if you don’t pay an editor. You get it written, sit on it for a week at most, and then you toss it out. Reviews, particularly of current media, is a time sensitive thing if you want to ride the big hype wave.

When you post, you hope you’ve caught everything… and sometimes, you just haven’t. Remember what I said though, we’re our own worst critics. For every reader turning up their nose, we’re mentally kicking ourselves when we miss something substantial.

1: I don’t belong even in these circles.

Ospreyshire hits the nail on the head, in a way I never could. He mentions this: “I get that there are creeps and obsessed people wherever, but I would feel like a fish out of water even if there are subjects I am interested in. Some people only care about what they like or dislike and never care about real-life issues which just disgusts me. Yes, there’s a time for escapism, but someone like me can’t afford to ignore what’s going on. God, I feel like I’m a pariah just because of what I like or dislike with others.”

See the overall theme here yet, guys? All 7 of the concerns all kind of tie into one another, and they’re pervasive… they’re also humbling… the phrase “finding your tribe” or “fitting in” is a weird sort of thing.

It’s a fluid thing, really. The importance and impact of it gets stronger or weaker depending upon what phase of life we’re in. As bloggers though, our posts immortalize a journey we take. In a way, it shapes us.

Ospreyshire mentions having never been to an anime convention before. That part stuck out to me… I used to go to them all the time as a teenager, but the older I got, the less interested in them I was… I eventually stopped going. It wasn’t for me anymore.

There are few anime conventions that are aimed at adults, which is weird because anime is a medium so many adults absolutely love. Most of the time 18+ panels aren’t about thoughtful discussion. It’s fun and laughter about dirty fan fiction or hentai anime, but we get so little substance of fan led discussions talking about important topics in the medium and the industry.

Listen to the same voice actor answer the same questions or quote the same line 5 or 6 years in a row, it grows trite and it grows tiresome… and to a point it feels empty. I’m sure I’m not the only adult out there that would desire a more introspective set of panels at an anime convention. I’m sure I’m not the only one that would like to have a panels touch upon wider topics, and I’m sure teens would like it too.

I know I would have, when I was a teenager.

As a reviewer there’s a weird feeling of being “othered” by fandoms when you critique something beloved by almost everyone within it. I go back to my statements about Lady Dimitrescu, I love Resident Evil, but I don’t love her. It’s easy to feel left out, or diminished among circles we should belong in, but don’t inherently fit the prescribed mold for.

And, so that’s why I’m going to post this up as it is. Imperfect as it is, probably riddled with errors too. The blogging medium has a fair bit of ugliness to it. Some of it is truly self-imposed, some of it comes from other factors… but that doesn’t mean I don’t love blogging.

It’s not a cry for help, it’s not a pity party, it isn’t even a list of things that actually NEED to change drastically. These aren’t grave sins or atrocities, it’s just the truth.

The only thing it needs to be is talked about, so I’m talking about it. The length of this post reflects the need for discussion. It truly is a requirement that we address the fact that like all wonderful things in this world, blogging can have its demons too.

The baseline entry is so low that countless people can enter into this sphere… if you have a computer, you get a free wordpress.com account, choose a template and that’s it… you start writing… you fool around figuring things out, and then you toss up your first post.

That’s really all you need to start off… never-mind the other stuff… that’ll come with time. When you reduce it down to absolute bare minimum, that’s all blogging really is.

Yet, blogging is more complicated than that once you start digging into it. People look at that, and they see this exclusive no-entry sphere of success that they could never hope to enter into… and some of us do anyway, because we want to…

Then we start the up-hill climb.

And I hope that you readers see this, and if you’ve thought about writing a blog that you STILL want to make that climb. I hope that Ospreyshire reads this and feel motivated to continue his up-hill climb… because I’ve laid myself out here too in these shared concerns so many of us have.

I’m speaking out because of him… I wouldn’t have made this post otherwise, but this all needed to be said.

Because we are a community. We are bloggers, and deep down, we all want to be worth something. I want to be worth something… and for readers, I hope I am.

If I’m not, well, I’m just going to keep trying.

This is Kern, from The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. Without the usual blue tab , without a related posts collection, and without any of the usual diatribes I’d normally give…


Because these 7 concerns are par for the course too, when you’re a blogger.

See you next time, everyone.

Before You Worry About “SEO”, Build Alliances – Here’s How

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. I’ve spoken about readability before, and discussed a few thoughts about numbered review scores for and how they can hinder the process. It’s about time to dive into big buzz words.

To be clear though, fancy nonsense like “SEO” and “niches” sound nice. However, they don’t mean a damn thing if you can’t write to be understood.

Go here, learn about readability first.

Assuming you’ve done that, let’s move on. By now I’m going to assume that you’ve got a firm command of the written word. Failing that, at least you know what REI means, and how it should be used. Now, it is time to talk about SEO, or “search engine optimization”, and why newbies need to go slow with it.

In general, big bloggers tell you to test out all kinds of “SEO” concepts on your own. They give you vague hints, but that’s about it. Why do they do this? Well, there’s two main reasons:

  1. Optimizing content for the search engines dynamically changes constantly. We never quite know when the next shift will occur.
  2. They’ve built up strong habits and know how to play the optimization game in the first place.

Guides about SEO that you see on the top page are “updated”, and I use that term very loosely on a regular basis. Yet, to attract the most readers they need to be intentionally vague. It’s kind of like the “catch all” horoscopes you find online. It can apply to anyone… and it’s vague enough to be relevant.

Even when they leave the post alone for a year by accident, that doesn’t matter. As long as they remain on top and you’re the fool clicking on it, they benefit from that click, even when you don’t.

A distant, yet often true third detail is that they don’t want the competition. Here’s the deal, if more bloggers know how to battle against the search engines, that means there are more bloggers they have to compete against.

When people complain that blogging tends to be an over-saturated market, we’re not joking. I don’t care about the competition. In my eyes, if more anime and gaming fans get into blogging, the more we can discuss these rich and diverse forms of media. If you want to be a blogger that’s fine with me.

That being said, I’m going to assume you have absolutely no idea what the major aspects of “SEO” happen to be, or how they’re used. This guide truly is intended for absolute beginners, so let’s dive into this thing.

So, What is SEO?

The acronym stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is a big stupid “buzz phrase” that confounds some of us, and pisses off a vast majority of others. However, it also encapsulates the core foundations required to be noticed on the internet. This includes things like “keywords” that drive traffic to your website.

To put this simply; if you’re optimized in the search engines, that means the little crawlers searching the web for content will like you. You want them to like you. If they do like you, then you’ll trend towards the top pages of search engines.

We focus so heavily on that detail because bloggers want eyes on their work, and they want eyes quickly.

That is the first mistake every blogger makes… battling the search engines fails to look at blogging from a more cohesive standard. You do need to do that, it’s true, but at first you need to start slow.

The simplest thing you can do is use social media. I assume you know what social media is; use it. Post up links when you have them, chat a little, chill out a little. If you’ve got buddies, have them share it on their timelines or re-tweet that link out.

Share your stuff on Reddit too. A lot of bloggers tell you not to do this, but again if you’re small, you want to get your links out there. Just don’t be a jerk about it… there are plenty of places you can toss up a link or two daily without being offensive. r/TellThePeople is a good place to start, and r/Promote is another one that’s much larger. That second one is also pretty full of spam, though.

I do have readers that come over from Reddit so I do know this tactic works. You’ll notice I write blog posts about RWBY, and you can be sure that I share those posts in the Reddit communities that allow me to do so. The key thing is to be social in the wider communities you’re part of.

This is part of good SEO practices, and early on that is what you need to bank on. Chances are good that your keywords aren’t perfected yet and you may not have completely discovered yourself as a blogger.

For the absolute novice, SEO will mean one thing, getting your name out there, and that’s it.

Don’t just optimize for Google!

Stop doing that. Bad blogger, no cookie. Do you want to know why you’re struggling to get thirty or so hits a day? Everyone and their mother optimizes for Google. The fact is, there are several search engines out there. They don’t all work in exactly the same way. Some pick up keywords differently, others rate a website and its authority on the internet more loosely.

Bing, Baidu, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo…

Those are all search engines that can and will display your content on the top page. If you know how they work, you’ll get eyes on your site. That list was just off the top of my head. There are plenty more where that came from. If you want to get eyes on your work, don’t follow the mindless masses… play around and find the engine that works best for you.

You need to understand something. If you’re only optimizing all of your content for one engine (Google), you’re missing out on the possibility of what other smaller engines can offer. Everyone goes for Google, that’s the big one.

If you’re a little-known blogger, aim for the top of a lesser used engine, because you’ll just have an easier time. Learn about each of them. They’re not all mindless Google clones, don’t pretend they are. People use Google as a baseline, but if you find that you struggle to hit a top page in a Google search, check around.

Bing or DuckDuckGo might be easier for you… and here’s the thing, the more traffic you get, the more Google’s little crawlers will like you more by default…

No, sadly I’m not joking.

That’s what makes Google the dominant search engine for so many people. It truly is the “catch-all” of searching… and that also makes it a complete and total pain in the ass. If you are getting frustrated trying to hit the top page in google, you’re not alone. That’s just the nature of the beast.

If you optimize for the others, Google will eventually pick you up, and as you learn that process, you’ll learn how to win the Google search too. You do have to be willing to play around with your keywords a little bit early on. The pros aren’t lying, that’s a cold, hard fact.

Don’t sweat it, though.

Depending on your content, the other engines may be better off for you anyway. You’ve got to understand that the pros you’re battling are SEO masters, and they play for keeps. They may also have a team or a network they partner up with.

They know how to play more than one of these systems.

Find out what your keywords are, and how easy it is to get them to trigger in the search results. Then play around with that. The truth is, search engine optimization is very complex and ever-changing, but if you know the bare minimum you can get by.

The Foremost Rule: Community

SEO helps you to get readers… but, you know, there’s other ways to do this. Frankly, these habits have fallen out of practice. I feel it is because of pure laziness.

We’re so focused on engines, we forget what other details help us to be “searchable”. I have two words for you; little and local.

Friends matter. Make them. Point blank, just make them. Building your community ensures readers come back. That’s always going to help you kick ass in the SEO sphere. Before you worry about search engines that we can’t completely predict, worry about what you can predict.

Invest time into your communities, both local and online. If you’re unknown, don’t hit the big places expecting success right away. Go to the small ones first, make a few friends, get a small following. That should be your first step. When you start to advertise your brand, go to the places where people already know you.

If you’re silent and anti-social, you’ve dropped the ball and you need to get started. Backlinking begets backlinking. References earn references. Ping-backs get you ping-backs.

Catch my drift yet?

You want your niche community talking. You want them talking both to you and about you in a positive and pleasant way. I don’t just mean online either. Hit your local community too.

Get yourself a halfway decent printer and use it.

Get yourself a business card template or just print out a series of simple rectangles on printer paper if you have to. Put the name of your website and a QR code on them. Cut them out and pass them around in conversation.

Ask your friends if they’d be willing to stick one in the corner of their car window. You do the same. Also ask to put a few of them in locations where your target audience likes to hang out. Before you put any hard money on getting clicks online, go get them yourself offline.

Some parks have bulletin boards, community centers have them too. Ask around, stick one up.

If you’re a food blogger, write a great blog review of a few small “mom and pop” places you frequent. After you’ve posted it, print that baby out. You’ll offer that review to the restaurant manager as a gift. Compliment the staff. If you’ve done your job right, they’ll take the free promotion.

Anime fan? Gamer? Collector? Do the same thing for shops and hobby places in your area. Going to a convention? Chat in lines, bring up a blog post you’ve done when it suits the conversation.

Write reviews on places you frequent. Give those reviews to the owners. Build that reputation. Small and local places want true and honest advertising. They love the shout-outs.

If they have a website and you’ve befriended the owner, go a step further. Ask the owner if they’ll link your review on their website. That’s a direct reference for them, and possible traffic for you.

Trust me, this works. If you’ve written an awesome review for them, they’ll hang it on their window because they WANT that promotion. Don’t ask for anything in return, just be kind and graceful.

Hint: A lot of people still like to read and hear about things they have a passion for. Confirmation Bias is a real thing in this world, and affirming the enjoyment of a particular topic puts you in good standing if you’re honest about it.

The point is, great word-of-mouth begets great word-of-mouth. That’s always going to be your strongest way to advertise. If people talk about you, they pass you around. You get noticed and you get known.

With the advancement of QR codes, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be doing this… bypass the search engines when you can, and in your local communities that isn’t too difficult.

If people search for your site directly, this will raise your SEO rankings because they are looking for your site, and that tells the engine you must be important. You want that, you need that, and it promises some real traffic, made by real people.

If you’re not doing this, you’re losing views and visitors from your target demographic and your local communities. Take an afternoon, pound the pavement and see what you can do.

Blog Together!

I shouldn’t have to say this last one, but talk shop with other bloggers. Leaving comments and socializing helps, sure enough… but take it a step further. Move outside of your core niche just a little bit.

Yes, that’s unconventional advice. Hear me out before you write me off.

You want to be innovative, and that means doing what other people aren’t. Form a small blogging circle that gets together once a month to share ideas and collaborate on loose-fitting subjects. It doesn’t matter what kind of blogger you are for these circles. Tangential posts can be a good thing, and if you pick the right topic everyone can benefit.

To use an example, pick a topic… say food. Now let’s say you’ve got three bloggers. Assume this group contains a media fan, a bush craft expert and a historian. Those are three vastly different types of writers, but food is a topic they can all talk about. The subject is loose enough for each of them to work with.

The media fan can talk about a cooking show, game or movie. The bush craft expert can discuss something they’ve built to help them make a meal. The historian can talk about food from a set time period.

Make sure all your posts are set to go out on a chosen day across your websites. Link to each other, give a shout out. There you go, you’ve got yourself a tangential collaboration, and the chance to reach out to a group of readers who might not have found out about you any other way.

This is why I say your niche doesn’t matter for your blogging circle, only that you chose an inclusive topic. You should be willing and able to step out of your core niche a little bit. Work with bloggers who are unlike yourself. That way, you’re not in direct competition for readers.

Making it a monthly thing means you’ll have your name brought up regularly. The more that you’re brought up in a positive way, the better it is for you. Allow your collaborations to be a fluid situation and don’t try to control the creative space too heavily.

It can be a very good time to write about topics together, and by the end you’ll have friends who understand the struggles of being a blogger too.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, when you think of SEO, you shouldn’t only be thinking about search engines as your only tool. I hope I’ve proven conclusively “SEO” is by its very name a misnomer. Optimizing your search results needs to be far more fluid than mass media guides would have you believe.

Let’s think about it this way: Search Engine Optimization… how do you get more optimized than people actually searching for your blog directly?

The answer is, you don’t.

It isn’t just about the little search crawlers that tell engines to like you. It’s about networking with others and thinking out of the box.

At the end of the day, easy line-of sight access to your work, QR codes, and tangential posts with those outside of your sphere will give you the edge you need.Those are factors you can predict.

You can continue to work with them, even when the engines themselves remain a mystery.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Numbered Review Scores Fail You – Brand Awareness

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. Today I will be talking about a major fallacy in blogging: numerical scoring systems. If you enjoy content like this, be sure to follow our blog and our other platforms.

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I think I’ve only given a numerical value to the end of a review once or twice, and I hate the concept. Frankly, I really struggle with the idea of assigning any numerical value to my reviews. I think it does a disservice to the reader, and to myself the reviewer.

Why? Well… that’s complicated…

Reviews are as objective as they are subjective. It is a symbiotic relationship. I say that word a lot; symbiotic. When it comes to review blogging, so many factors are strictly reliant on each other. To overlook the ebb and flow of these details, also overlooks the meaning of what a review actually is. 

Critical thinking and personal ethos are paramount in a good review. Arbitrarily assigned numbers just don’t offer anyone justice. In certain review spaces we tend to forget that. We assign a number to movies, games, books or some other form of media.

In a way, it might even feel satisfying to assign a value like that.

Personally, I don’t find that satisfying. I’d bet a lot of your readers don’t either. If you have a low return rate on visitors, that could be why. They could just be looking at the number and then leaving. You could be losing more readers than you gain this way.

To look at why, we need to look at the bigger picture.

Binary Systems Fail Us All

The reality is, assigning a numerical value to something you have reviewed has no intrinsic meaning to anyone else. It only means something to you, the reviewer. Depending on your intended demographic, that can be seen as a pretentious action. 

You don’t built clout that way, you annoy people.

The gaming community, for example, actually hates numbers for scores on reviews. The vast majority either don’t care about the number, or generally assume that number to be meaningless. A select group actually find numbered review scores directly offensive.

In short: they only put up with them because the press sets the standard.

Many who actually read the reviews would rather find someone on a small site catered to them. When it comes down to reading a review properly, they want a reviewer that isn’t going to treat them like an idiot.

In the worse case situation, you may actually have a harder time building an audience by following a hard line numerical method. Sure, established hands do this all the time. I just mentioned that above. That is the key between the novice and the pro. The pros are established. 

Reviewers like that have either been around a long time, or they are writing for one of the big publications. Those publications generally maintain a particular content format. Bloggers need to follow that format for sensibility sake. 

Establishment doesn’t always breed competency, though. The old way is not always the best way… obviously. The fact is, establishment often breeds some level of complacency too. I’d argue numerical systems are a product of pure laziness and little else.

New bloggers need to be innovative. We need to know when an established method fails our readers. For the novice, the default assumption is that numerical values help to validate you. 

This isn’t true at all.

Unless you have a clearly designed system for your readers to understand, that number doesn’t mean anything. We don’t know what might be going on in your brain. Unless you refer your readers to a numerical chart for your reviewing method, they can’t even trust that you are being fair in your reviews.

There’s no innovation, only what some people call “asshattery”. No, I’m not making up that slang. It means exactly what it sounds like. You’re wearing your butt as a gloried top-hat, and you’d better stop.

Reviews are your opinions, nothing more… no review is sacrosanct, not mine, not yours.

Let me be clear: Hard numerical values on reviews have a place. However, that place is only for the strict and stringent review process. If you won’t do that, leave the numbers alone. 

Writing to be understood should always be your core ethos. We need to be honest with ourselves. My measure of a number won’t be the same as yours. It won’t be the same for our readers.

If there is no strict binary, you have no strict metric to measure. That’s why I said above that these numbers can feel exclusive and pretentious. It all comes down to “gate-keeping” ideology. If you want to be well-respected, wonderful. Just don’t inhibit new readers from joining in on the fun. 

Figuring out how to measure a binary system isn’t the only problem…

Reader Engagement

Do you want your readers to answer your “calls to action” with due diligence? If so, don’t give them an easy way out. Putting a number upon a carefully constructed review almost marginalizes the process.

Beyond that, in a way I would say that we infantilize our readers when we add one. We’re treating them like children. When we use numbers without a firm and strict system in place, we admit our own defeat too. I mean, okay… so you toss them a number, then what? 

We’ve just directly insulted ourselves, that’s what!

We have put countless hours of effort into a post only to inspire pure laziness in our readers. They can scroll to the end, read the number and leave without any effort or interest in you as a person… don’t let them do that. You are a person behind that screen.

You are allowed to expect your readers to treat you like the flesh and blood person that you are. You shouldn’t allow them to treat you like “content fodder”. You need to understand, readers who care will stay for you.

Your personality and your written cadence, will show in your writing. That is your personality, and it manifests into your content. Readers will connect with that aspect of your review directly. That is much too important to disregard.

Failing that, you need to at least prove you’ve got some skin in this game. How do you do that? Easy, you prove that by writing a review worth reading.

Most people will skim through your content to determine its overall value. This is true. However, you need to aim for the readers that won’t scan and bounce. Never mind the “bouncers”. By the way, a bouncer is a person who jumps in on a blog post and leaves quickly. 

The ones that stay, they will be your followers. They will be the ones to monetize your content. That fat paycheck you’re hoping for… the readers that stay are the ticket you need to ride. 

Get your readability score in the right range for your readers. Make the content interesting and mentally accessible to your core demographic. Whatever you do, don’t simply hand over the number, make them read the review.

Those of you that made it this far into the blog post, you are the people I’m writing for. You are the ones that I put my bets on. If I’m lucky, you’ll see that value, and maybe you’ll follow me.

That’s what you need to expect and want from your readers too. This brings me to my last point.

Brand Awareness and Rating Systems

Numbers don’t solidify your brand. It doesn’t give you an identity. It doesn’t make you relatable. If you absolutely must have a rating system, tie it to yourself in a relatable way… readers like that.

Plus, a reader is much more likely to remember that. If they remember you, they may come back and stick around.

A better option would be to come up with something looser in measurement too. For a good example, say movies, a loose system might be something like this:

Ingore it/Bypass it: For movies not worth their time
Stream it: For movies worth a single watch later when it hits the streaming platforms.
Theaters: For movies worth the box office price tag.
Buy it: For movies that belong on the shelves, collections, or constant viewing.
(Special rating here): For particularly special movies of your highest regard and acclaim.

For an example of a special rating, that’s where you tie in your brand awareness. This is where you place prestige without adding pretension. For this, I’m going to use an example that happens to me all the time.

When I have fog on the brain, sometimes I forget the YouTube channels that I really enjoy. People without memorable brand awareness get lost to the void. I may not find them again for months. On the other hand, a reviewer with firm brand awareness will be very easy to locate.

Here’s an example…

I think Glass Reflections is a wonderful channel. However, even if I don’t always recall his channel name in conversation, I always recall his very memorable and brand appropriate “Certified Frosty” rating. 

That rating sticks out in my head when his actual YouTube name doesn’t. I’ve mentally attached that rating to the reviews of his that I enjoy. That’s why I remember that rating and his catch phrase for it.

For him, that rating is reserved for only his absolute highest recommendations. Even the phrase sticks out: “For the best of the best, and anime too important too ignore”, I remember that off the top of my head every single time. 

 I can still find him by typing “Certified Frosty, youtube”.

 See? There he is, topping the engine. That’s what you want to do with your rating system. If you can add your own brand awareness into your rating system like Glass Reflections does, that makes you memorable. 

I’ll leave it there for now.

This has been Kernook from The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest, and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll catch you all next time. If I’ve been worth you time, drop me a follow. There’s more content like this coming soon.

End Post: See, even I have a catch phrase too, and those of you who frequent this blog know to expect it by now. That’s very intentional. I say it at the end of every blog post, at the end of most live streams, and certainly at the end of carefully edited YouTube videos. If you have a brand that crosses platforms too, this sort of consistency is paramount to your review style.

Embed yourself in your brand, make it part of your core blogging identity. You’ll be glad you did.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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The First Thing Bloggers Need to Know – Readability

You know, it’s funny. When I graduated from high school back in 2007, I knew one thing about my life and only one thing. I was never going to enter a university or higher education. It just wasn’t for me. Then again, it seemed to me that so little in the world could be “for me”.

I was adrift with what to do in my life. I ran through the gambit of jobs that you get right out of high school. Corner store clerk, Yep. I’ve been there. Hamburger flipper, yep, I’ve done that too. I was also the poor unfortunate soul that management crams behind a service desk during peek holiday seasons… the dreaded “temp” worker.

From babysitting to mowing lawns, I drifted through many jobs trying to find my place in this vast world. Eventually though, I found my calling; freelancing. Now, I’m not your typical “gig worker” in the sense that I only write blogs or that I only work for writing mills.

I don’t make my income entirely based on that, and most bloggers don’t. It really is nice when someone can have a mastery and build that following to only be a bloggerI’m going to tell you a little secrete of the trade, something a lot of people don’t want you to know.

We’re jacks of all trades, but we’re rarely masters at any of them. Success is easy to brag about, once you’ve got the clout. What about if you don’t though?

I’m not writing this to get your attention, I’m writing this because I’m going to tell you the truth. You’ll follow me of your own volition, or you won’t. If not, that’s fine, but I promise you this; I’m going to give you good advice.

How many times have you read about finding your niche audience? What about defining keywords? Oh, here’s a good one. How many times do you see bloggers talking about the big traumatizing “algorithm” we all battle on a daily basis?

Now I have real hard hitting question for you. Do you, as an aspiring blogger, know what “REI” stands for? What about just the word readability? Do you know what that means?

This is your first lesson. “REI” stands for Reading Ease Ideal.

To be simple, it is just a tool we use. Reading comprehension is a requirement of a good blog. Reading ease tools measure reading comprehension. It tells you how easy your written word is to understand. That’s all “readability” actually means.

Understanding the reading level of your target audience matters. Your blog will be useless if your target demographic can’t comprehend it. You need to master this before you try to master keywords and algorithms.

If you want to get an edge, begin at the heart and soul of the craft. Master your ability to understand your own writing. There’s all kinds of reading ease measurements out there. You need to learn about them.

You need to have all the tools in your tool belt. You’ll gain an edge over other bloggers. Many don’t understand this concept. If you understand what REI means, and how it needs to be used, you’re going to have a better shot against the competition.

Getting your foot into the big media doors isn’t always easy. If you write effectively from the onset, you’ve got a much better chance. That’s the reality. Major publications have standards for reading comprehension.

For example, Time Magazine has a median reading level of “grade 7”. This means the average 13 year old can read the magazine and understand the content in it. Reader digest aims for a baseline of around 15 years old.

That’s not to say the content will appeal to those ages, mind you. The basic reading level of your blog and your target audience are not the same things. However, they are symbiotically tied together.

Therefore, I repeat: Reading Ease Ideal.

Cram those three words into your heads. Old veterans in blogging can roughly determine these things on their own. We can do this by sight alone. That takes practice. If you don’t have the skill, learn the skill.

Step 1: Before you start digging into keywords and algorithms, make sure you have a good word processor.

Step 2: Figure out what metric for reading ease that processor uses.

Step 3: Then you decide what sort of content you want to make. Find out the target ages and the reading level of that group. Look at what the reading level is for major publications in your niche. You can google this, for a lot of big industries.

Step 4: Make sure ALL of your posts are within the target metrics.

If you are writing for a relaxed reader, you’d better not be posting university level reading material on your blog. If you are writing to be understood by the average reader, keep that in mind. You should not go above the reading level of the average young teenager. Unless you are writing Reader’s Digest level material, don’t toss around “grade 9” blog posts.

The lesson here: write for your readers.

That is the most important detail. Do not deviate from that mindset as a newbie. If you do, your posts feel inconsistent and sloppy. During your editing phase, edit to suit your target demographic directly. How educated is that group? Does your post meet the reading ease required for that group?

Figure that out before you post.

Once you start doing this, you’ll be a better blogger. I say this because it is resoundingly true. Every blogger making the big bucks, knows this is true. Middling bloggers like myself, wishing to compete with the pros, learns this is true.

It will help to improve your SEO rankings. You will have a much easier time defining your keywords later on. If you found this helpful, follow me here on Medium. You’ll be getting more tips and tricks like this soon enough.

I’ll leave you with my scores for this blog post. That way you’ll know I’m not feeding you a bunch of nonsense:

Readability Consensus
Based on (7) readability formulas, we have scored your text:
Grade Level: 5
Reading Level: easy to read.
Reader’s Age: 8–9 yrs. old (Fourth and Fifth graders)

After Post:

See what I mean? A child could read this post if they wanted. It’s not aimed at them, but that doesn’t rightly matter. I just wrote it and tossed it. Sure there may be spelling errors, I’m not going to edit this stupid thing. It isn’t because I don’t care. I just wanted to prove a point, reading ease matters. If you can do it by sight alone, you’re a step ahead of the game.

Follow me for more content, you’ll be glad you did.