Showing posts with label guest-post. Show all posts
Showing posts with label guest-post. Show all posts

The Top 5 Reasons Why List Posts Are Amazing

This is a guest post from Ryan Brock.

List posts provide structure to your reads, among other things.
I've been writing these words you're reading for weeks. Months, even. When you write and edit and manage content for a living, it's the hardest thing in the world to make time for something simple like a guest post. They say the same is true for designers, or any other creative, for that matter. I'll sit down at my computer with a list of things to do - edit those articles for a client, write a whitepaper, knock out a guest post - and the part of the list that makes me no money - the guest post - always takes lowest priority.

So every time I would find ten or 15 minutes to work, I'd try to make headway on this post. Every time, I'd have an inclination to take it one way or another. I'd want to write about the five rules of Internet style one day, or about 10 tips for writing engaging copy. I was never quite satisfied with the stuff I was coming up with, but I did notice one obvious trend: no matter where my mind wandered, I was making lists each time.

This is funny to me, because you hear professional writers complaining ALL THE TIME about how list posts suck, how they are expected and constricting. I couldn't agree more about the expected and constricting bit, but I happen to think that expected and constricting can be very good things on the web. With all the list post hate out there, I think our numbered pals could use a champion. Might as well be me.

So instead of sharing any of the thoughts I originally had for this guest post, I thought I would offer up these, the TOP 5 REASONS WHY LIST POSTS ARE AMAZING AND YOU SHOULD ALL STOP COMPLAINING:

5. They fill space.
Think about how many times you've visited sites with lists that make you click through to advance to the next item. You do it because you're a slave to lists (more on that in a bit), and the publishers rake in the ad money as you click away. For that reason, many writers make it a goal to fit their content into lists that are easy to split. But even for sites that don't split their lists up - Cracked comes to mind - it's so much easier for a writer to conceive an entire article if that writer can work toward a goal of 5 widgets or 10 whatsits. It's like you get 5 or 10 different opportunities to work in a new intro and conclusion, and that means list posts basically write themselves. For writers who turn out 10-15 articles a day, that's a plus.

4. The structure is convenient for readers.
But beyond the convenience lists offer writers, there is a certain implicit convenience that readers derive from list posts. In my book, Nothing New: An Irreverent History of Storytelling and Social Media, I presented the story of Virgil's Aeneid as an early, early example of what we now call content marketing. With the Aeneid, Virgil and the emperor Augustus were able to sway the hearts of the newly-founded empire's subjects by telling a great story with a poem. That poem was written to match Homer's Greek epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, and it was because they fit the epic mould that the people found it so easy to buy into the message. Because the Romans loved Greek stuff, they were enticed by the structure of the Aeneid as much as they were by the message. Skip forward a few thousand years, and it could be that the workaday people of the social web would identify the list post as their comfortable structure of choice. They're quick, they're familiar, and they allow for easy skimming. Win, win, triple win.

Controversy is a great way to get readers to comment.
3. Ranked lists cause controversy.
When you rank a list post, you automatically double its effectiveness as a shareable piece of content. You could write a post chronicling your five favorite sci-fi movies, or you could rank your choices and title the post something like "THE TOP 5 SCI-FI MOVIES OF ALL TIME FOREVER SHUT UP." The latter decision will result in plenty of people ready to correct you with a comment. The same people will share your list, ranting about how wrong you are, and they'll get their friends in on all the engagement. You, meanwhile, will sit back and watch your hits explode. Controversy can be very, very good on the web.

2. Depth isn't great for a single blog post.
Some critics lambast list posts because of their shallow nature. "You can't really talk much about anything in enough detail if you try to cram so many different points into a single post," they complain. That's exactly right! To writers of web content, it's a losing battle to try to share something completely revolutionary in just 500-800 words. Try writing for an engineering blog and teaching trained professionals how to use Auto CAD or something like that, and you're just opening yourself up to ridicule. List posts can help writers keep their content broad enough to have mass appeal, but interesting enough to keep even your more informed parties engaged.

1. You are reading this right now.
Speaking of keeping readers engaged, list posts are like irresistible content honey to hungry reader bears. They're addictive and they tap into that very deep, completionist part of our brain that wants to learn as much it can and see things through to their end. Even if you didn't get much from this post, you're still reading it, and I'd be willing to bet that the biggest reason you are can be found in the numbers 5-1 above. Ranked lists encourage readers to keep going, to see if their thoughts or choices might be found on a list. The fact that you are still here reading, even if you completely disagree with me, proves my point quite well.

Now is the part of the post where I invite you to add your thoughts in the comments below. Do you agree that list posts are effective? Do you disagree? Would you add to my list, or take away from it, or maybe switch the order up? Have at it. Those sorts of comments are what make list posts just so darned great.



About the Author
Ryan Brock (@ryanbrock)

Ryan Brock is the founder and CEO of Metonymy Media, a group of creative writers and literary geeks turned pro. Ryan spends his days writing and editing for companies of all sizes, and is also the co-author of Nothing New: An Irreverent History of Storytelling and Social Media. He hates the taste of black licorice.

"Dracula: The Panto" at Indy Fringe

This is a guest post by Robby Slaughter and a review from IndyFringe.

My first show at Indy Fringe this year was "Dracula: The Panto", a raucous retelling of Bram Stoker's classic. As the narrator explained in the opening, a "panto" (short for "pantomime" is a family-friendly version of a popular story, filled with songs, modern references and irreverent humor. The cast delivered handily on this promise.

"Dracula" is a can't miss mostly because of the side-splitting lyrics in the musical numbers. Watch for self-referential commentary in the love song and pop-culture asides from the henchmen. And like any good IndyFringe show, this production includes a few moments of clarity about their own budget, audience expectations, and especially a bit of local flare.

Performances were by and large earnest and enjoyable. A special mention goes to Kate Homan (whose dialogue admits the oddity of her playing the male role of Dr. Van Helsing), and whose skeptical looks and energetic singing voice are a major highlight. Jonah Winston, who plays the jive-talking American explorer, keeps audiences on their toes with his broad expressions and fourth-wall asides.

The star and the headliner, however, is Dracula himself. Masterfully played by Matthew Anderson, his hilariously exaggerated body language is enough to make the audience double over alone. Anderson excels at adhering to the form of the panto, with frequent conversations with the audiences. He demands us to boo his character more, "After all, I'm the villain of this piece!"

Although the performance brought laughs and engaged the crowd, the show was plagued by technical difficulties. These cannot be attributed to the Cook Theater at the recently-restored Indiana Landmarks Center. The Fringe's newest performance space is gorgeous and had incredible acoustics for later shows. But this reviewer missed quite a few lyrics and could not hear many of the singers due to problems with the audio balance. Hopefully, these can be address for later shows.

Despite these concerns, "Dracula: The Panto" is a hit. This is a great introduction to IndyFringe for first-timers and a perfect experience for long-time fans. Catch it yourself!

More at www.indyfringe.org. Enjoy other works by this company at http://www.eclecticpond.org/,

Bust Writer’s Block

Having writer’s block is a luxury. Don’t get me wrong, it’s real, and it can be a problem. But if writing is only your hobby, you can allow yourself to indulge in the idleness of writer’s block. You can afford to take the time to do writing exercises and to spend long, pensive moments looking for inspiration that will shatter your blockage.

But when you have to get this blog post done in 30 minutes flat so you can move on to the giant batch of materials you owe that client, writer’s block doesn’t exist. Instead, you’re functioning in a world of action and reaction: Research. Write. Edit. Send. Repeat. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. As part of my day job, I suffer from writer’s block maybe once every six months. I give myself a pep talk, take a walk around the block and get my fingers back on the keyboard within 15 minutes. And something always, always comes out.

Ironically, it’s when I try to write something to keep for myself that I run into the biggest problems with writer’s block. There’s always a reason to put off writing for yourself: pressures at home or work, exhaustion or a plain old lack of ideas. We always find excuses to keep our true selves pent up and off the page. Maybe we’re secretly afraid of what we’ll find there, or we’re afraid of failure. I suspect everyone’s reasons are different.

So how do you deal? You force yourself to write. You don’t accept no for an answer. You sit your butt down in the chair and you don’t get up until you’ve written your daily allotment. That might be a thousand words on your novel or a 250 word blog post—the length doesn’t matter. Neither does the quality. If you bang out your daily allotment, even if 90 percent of it is garbage, you’ll find ten percent that you can take and polish and make shine. Some days you won’t want to do it; maybe even most days you’ll dread staring at that blank white page. But if you have the discipline, you’ll find that writer’s block only exists if you let it.

Since 2012 began, I’ve written at least 1,000 words a day, six days a week. No, you can’t see it. It’s not for you. But it helps me remember who I am and why I do what I do, and why writer’s block will never, ever slow me down.


About the Author
Allison Carter (@AllisonLCarter)

Allison is the director of communications at Roundpeg, an Indianapolis small business marketing firm. She spends her days writing, exploring the world of social media and providing marketing advice, and her nights reading, writing, traveling and herding cats.

Understanding Anonymous

Unless you're living under the 21st century equivalent of a rock, you've heard about the cyberactivism group known as "Anonymous."

Except: Anonymous isn't a group. It's an organization. It doesn't have a mission statement or a system of governance. It has no goals, no bylaws, no officers, and no club house. So what is it?

Even using a capitalized word to describe Anonymous is a misnomer. So instead of trying to characterize the concept as a "group" or a "movement", I am going to call it a phenomenon. In fact, I think it's a combination of two unbelievably powerful factors that have never been integrated before.

One the one hand, you have the notion of zeitgeist. From my handy dictionary:
zeitgiest - The defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.
This is certainly a moment of civil unrest, and the people who are being characterized as part of this "movement" are those that feel the most disenfranchised. They see what they call injustice and want things to change.

Of course, a sensation that the world is unfair is nothing new. People have been complaining about being mistreated since complaining was invented. But today, something is different. And this time, I'm using my own definition:
social media -the appropriation of world-wide, near-instant communication propagated by individual relationships instead of traditional broadcasting.
This has always been happening, but modern technology makes it unfathomably more difficult to stop. Instead of complaining about a bad experience on a flight to your friends at the bar, you might make a viral video that garners over 10 million views.

What does the Guy Fawkes mask represent to you?
So what is Anonymous? It's people who are upset about the world being upside down and making a statement. In the same way that a dirty joke spreads through a college dormitory, particular trends such as Guy Fawkes masks and a tendency to speak in pronouncements spreads through the "community" of people who are angry.

If Anonymous is anything, it is a harbinger of the future. In the past, if you wanted to conspire to make something unfair in your favor, you only needed to convince the authorities to protect you. But today, cheaters don't just need to avoid the police. They must avoid everyone who might detect their true intentions.

Anonymous is simply democracy in it's purest form. It is rule by the people, not through election but through the wildfire of rumor.

If you're not interested in censorship or in oppression, you have nothing to fear from Anonymous.

But if you want to silence people or restrict their rights, you'll have to face the court of public opinion. And thanks to the Internet, that court and its bailiff number into the billions.



About the Author
Robby Slaughter (@robbyslaughter)

Robby Slaughter is a productivity expert and the author of Failure: The Secret to Success.

How do you define leadership?

Webster's dictionary defines leadership as:
  • The office or position of a leader
  • Capacity to lead
  • The act or an instance of leading

When defining leadership should we consider leadership styles? What about types of leadership training? In recent conversations I've heard leadership used to mean religious training, political opinions, procedural direction, organizational planning, experience driven team building, and volunteerism. Leadership seems like such a simple word, doesn't it?  

When discussing leadership, keep in mind; others may have a different definition of leadership. One of the most common breakdowns in communication is assuming others think as we do. Avoid this breakdown, when discussing leadership, by asking questions and explaining your definition of leadership.

How one defines leadership may be personal, but leading isn't. 
Regardless of your style and definition of leadership there are certain leadership truths. Here are a few to consider.

  1. Charisma is not leadership. Leaders are not born. Leaders learn to lead.
  1. A leader without followers is not a leader. Pretty simply huh? Think about it.
  1. Leaders are self-aware and obsessed with personal improvement.
  1. The best leaders learn what followers need to succeed and furnish the tools.
  1. Managers want employees to change when change often begins with management. Be a leader - lead by example – be the first to change.
Lead by example. Use recognition and encouragement to paint dreams, to show a path, and share a vision. Train and help, and help and train, and train and help some more. Keep in mind - You manage accounts and lead people.

How do you define leadership? Leave a comment; I’d like to know.

If you’d like more of my definition of leadership, check out these posts:
12 Attributes of Great Leadership

 About the Author
Randy Clark (@randyclarktko)
"I am Indiana born and bred - I love basketball, the Indy 500 and our state fair. My beer fridge at any given time has a couple hundred beers representing 75-80 different styles."

Randy Clark is the Director of Communications for TKO Graphix, where he blogs for TKO Graphix Brandwire. He is an avid flower gardener, beer geek, and he fronts the Under the Radar Rock & Roll. Randy is husband to public speaker Cathi, proud father of one principal, one educator. He is also a grandfather to four grandchildren.

Femme Fatale review


One listen through Britney’s newest release Femme Fatale is all it takes to forget the career- blundering events of 2007 and remember her for what she is: a pop icon… and a damn sexy one, at that.

Femme Fatale is, above all, a testament to Brit’s ability to change with the times and evolve her songs with the ever-changing soundscape that is pop music. Not all that long ago (circa 1999) when our airwaves were filled with sugary, wholesome tunes like “Genie In A Bottle”, “I Want It That Way”, and “If You Had My Love”, Spears pounced on the scene with innocent schoolgirl allure and the unforgettable single “… Baby One More Time”. Fast forward 12 years and six albums later, and we’re listening to dubstep-drenched electro beats and highly worked-over vocal tracks; a complete 180, to say the least.

But it’s important to avoid the temptation to try to discover the underlying reason for Spears’ musical evolution. After all, one could spend days speculating how events such as two marriages, two divorces, the birth of two children, custody battles, religious confusion, and paparazzi nightmares would affect one’s creative energy. Instead, I suggest admiring Britney for her courage to not give up, to try something new, and to do it bigger and better than she’s ever done it before.

Hold It Against Me launched to millions after a month's worth of teasers.

The album’s first two singles come from the album’s first two tracks- both of which seem obvious choices for pre-release hype and curiosity provocation. DJ’s everywhere couldn’t wait to get their hands on “Hold It Against Me” – working it into their mixes within a day’s time. But producer Dr. Luke, whose working relationship with Spears pre-dates Femme Fatale by more than four years, hopes to pull four more singles from the album before it’s run its course. Read on for my predictions on which tracks might make the cut, as well as highlights from the rest of Femme Fatale.

I Wanna Go
Track four, the athematic “I Wanna Go”, is another club-banger with much potential for a single. The song, filled with cheery whistles and suggestive lyrics (Shame on me / to need release / uncontrollably), trains listeners to crave the epic bass drop with every run of the chorus- resulting in the urge for rapid fist-pumps and contagious high energy. 

How I Roll
“How I Roll” is a beautiful mix of classic Brittney saccharinity and contemporary dance characteristics. Her distinct vocals are instantly recognizable while simultaneously presented with an electronic makeover that stretches her voice over light bumps and heaps of popping effects in the background.

(Drop Dead) Beautiful
Another shoe-in for one of the singles-to-be, “(Drop Dead) Beautiful” opens with a dubstep twist before again leveraging the definitive Brittney growl and effortlessly blending traditional Spears with modern techniques. Produced by Benny Blanco and featuring Sabi (one-half of Bangz, an L.A. based girl-rap duo), the track stands out as one of the album’s grimiest. 

Seal It With A Kiss
“Seal It With A Kiss” is also sprinkled with dubstep morsels and maintains the electro mindset with dance-able beats, but steps away from the album’s darker and edgier theme for considerate lyrics and poppy ooo-wee-ooo’s in the chorus.

Big Fat Bass
Admittedly a B.E.P. fan, Britney features will.i.am on “Big Fat Bass”. It’s one of the most-daring tracks on the album, as Britney’s vocals are heavily produced over a strong and intimidating beat. Nonetheless, the celebrity cameo and outside-of-the-box production make this song another one to add to the list of predicted singles.

Additional noteworthy songs rounding out the album include “Gasoline” and two of the four bonus tracks- “He About To Lose Me” and “Selfish”.

Surprise performance at Rain Nightclub in Las Vegas left haters mad.

In addition to physically looking the best she has in years, the recent announcement of a tour with in-demand hip hop princess Nicki Minaj has added much fuel to the fire that Femme Fatale ignited in BRITTnation. Despite these truths, a major artist comeback of this caliber will never see success unless it’s first anchored by a high-quality, buzz-worthy album of good music. Thank goodness she’s done exactly that… because Britney is about to blow up like it’s 1999 all over again.


About the author
Danielle Look (@butterfly_89000)
"I attend concerts & festivals... and then write about them. My taste is eclectic and focused locally, but never sees true boundaries. My musical taste gravitates towards hip hop, electronic dance music, and jam, but I am open to nearly any type of music."

Find her work on Nuvo.net and IndyMojo.com. She also has her own hashtag! Check out The #ButterflyTour on Twitter. Danielle is learning the art of SEO as a social media networker at Slingshot SEO and is also a part-time student at The Kelley School of Business, majoring in marketing.

Podcasts made easy



In reality I’m running with the dog. In real life, I’m quietly eating lunch. I’m sitting on the metro, trying to ignore the obnoxiously drunk 21-year-olds. In reality I’m suffering through another day of monotonous work.

In my head, however, I’m having a conversation with a man who forged multiple documents, which would have connected JFK with the mob and proved his love affair with Marilyn Monroe. In my head, I’m the size of a molecule of oxygen and flowing through a gigantic ear while our tour guide points out the integral anatomy of hearing. I’m sitting in a room with my favorite vegan chef as she reads me a short story by Mark Twain.

I am a podcast enthusiast and it gives me the ability to travel to the ends of the earth, to the insides of organs, and into conversations with the most captivating people. Most importantly, I can do all this while cleaning the house in my sweatpants.

A podcast is like a radio program that is put into MP3 format, and you can download it to your computer or MP3 player. To be clear, Apple products (like iPods and iTunes) are not necessary to listen to podcasts. However, all of my experience is with these products, and I will use them as examples here.

Podcast Made Easy
  1. To become a podcast listener, the first step is having the tools: an MP3 player or smart phone and software (like iTunes). My first iPod was an iPod nano, it was silver, and I thought it was hot shit because it could fit in any pocket. Now I use my iPhone or iPod Shuffle. The software is used as a platform for updating and downloading new episodes.

  2. Next you will need to find podcasts that interest you. Most programs are displayed in the iTunes Store Podcast tab. (Open iTunes, select the iTunes store on the left side of the application, click on Podcasts at the top of the store, peruse.) Once you have located a program you wish to download and listen to regularly, click “Subscribe.” Most programs have new episodes on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and this step is the key to having this updated without any effort on your part.

  3. Update your MP3 player. When you open iTunes on your computer and plug in your MP3 player, the podcasts which you have subscribed to will be updated automatically! If they do not, you may want to check your settings by selecting your device on the left side of the screen. From there you will see the overview of your MP3 player (what type of product, the version, options, etc.). At the top of the screen, select Podcasts and you will be directed to a screen that shows which, if any, podcasts will be uploaded onto your MP3 player. Ensure the “Sync Podcasts” option at the top is checked!
For iPhone users, you can access the uploaded podcast episodes by opening the iPod application and clicking on “More” on the bottom right. From there you will see an option for accessing your podcasts. (See Photo 1)

Photo 1

When you have listened to an episode, you will have to plug your MP3 player into your computer, delete the old episodes, and upload new ones. You can set up your account to have them deleted automatically when you sync your MP3 player by opening the Podcast menu, clicking on “Settings” at the bottom, and changing the “Episodes to keep:” to “All Unplayed Episodes.” Otherwise, old episodes will have to be deleted manually. You will know a program has been listened to because the blue dot on the left will disappear (See Photo 2). 
Photo 2

If you are feeling daunted by the amount of podcasts to choose from, let me make some suggestions.
  1. RadioLab (WNYC) --Hosts Jad Abumrod and Robert Krulwish introduce a science subject matter and then explore it with sound. It was with them that I traveled to the innards of an ear.
  2. Culturetopia (NPR) -- Half of the episodes are a round up of the week’s best arts and culture stories. From this podcast I learned about Florence and the Machine and have expanded my musical knowledge. The other half of the episodes are Pop Culture Happy Hour, a panel of NPR’s wittiest culture fanatics. Their areas of expertise include comic books, movies and reality TV (among others).
  3. WTF with Marc Maron (Independent) -- Maron is a stand-up comedian, and although I’ve never had an interest in stand-up comedy, he tells a different story about this art. He puts his emotions right there in your ear, as he conducts interviews with people in the field and other entertainers. He draws out some incredible story about their life. Oh yeah, and he’s hilarious!
  4. Selected Shorts (PRI) -- Another public radio program that features short stories read on stage by actors (including Alec Baldwin!).
  5. Onion Radio News (Independent) -- This program is less than a minute and offers a ludicrous news story. For example, “Balloon Delivery Man Forced To Take Bus.” Who wouldn’t love having this visual inserted into your daily commute? 
Oh, I haven’t mentioned it yet but all of this content is FREE!

Additional podcast recommendations
Discovery News Audio Podcast


About the author
Maggie Bailey (@scientistmaggie)
 
"I’m the girl at the party having cuddle time with the host’s dog, while blabbing about lichen hunting and my love of lentils. I gravitate towards science and interject conversations with life’s lessons."