Thomas Crampton

Social Media in China and across Asia

How to: Be an uber blogger, by Cory Doctorow

Sep 6, 2007

Cory Doctorow, uber blogger of Boing Boing, science fiction writer and part-time resident of the Magic Kingdom describes how to create a blog that people read.

Cory suggests focussing on headlines that grab the vast number of people who come to your site from search engines. To do this, he said headlines should ignore grammar, reason – and everything else – in order to emphasize what will bring newcomers to your blog.

In discussion after the video ended, Cory also suggested studying the work of Jakob Nielsen , who has done in-depth studies on web usability with eye-tracking equipment. (For someone who is an expert in design, graphics are intriguingly absent from Nielsen’s home page. Perhaps a lesson for us all?)

Having heard Cory’s tips, I’ve become self-conscious about all my blog post titles.

UPDATE: A great posting by Happie Katie has summarized what Cory spoke about in this video.

Cory suggests:

1- Make your headline un-exciting.
2- Don’t split your posts.
3- Don’t put important links and details ‘after the jump’.

(More explanatory detail by Happie Katie):

Katie adds three more suggestions:

4. Use images or visuals as much as humanly possible
5. LINKLINKLINK to your sources and other sites as if your life depended on it
6. Respond to your comments (I’m particularly bad on this one)

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Discussion

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  • Thanks for sharing this comment. That is really opportune since I am experiencing troubles similar to this, and I am exactly thinking of trying this myself.

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  • Thank you very much for the tips. I really want to become an expert blogger and your tips will help me start my plans... :)

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  • I totally agree with Cory on this one 'Cory suggests focussing on headlines that grab the vast number of people who come to your site from search engines. To do this, he said headlines should ignore grammar, reason – and everything else – in order to emphasize what will bring newcomers to your blog. Keep it up. 
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  • Reading is my passion. Browsing through your site gives me a lot of knowledge in so many ways. Thank you for the efforts you made in writing and sharing your points of view. Looking forward to learn some more from you. Keep it up.

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  • This is the best advise I have every heard about blogging for years. It will insure increased visitors to my posts. Doctorow, what a name though.

  • In discussion after the video ended, Cory also suggested studying the work of Jakob Nielsen , who has done in-depth studies on web usability with eye-tracking equipment. (For someone who is an expert in design, graphics are intriguingly absent from Nielsen’s home page. Perhaps a lesson for us all?)

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  • This is I have been doing, but no effect. My blog, access number is no flow rate to zero, the blog article no man reading. Links are? How to use? I don't know. Because of this, I began to write in the blog.What to do? Who can tell me ? Thank you .

  • I don't mind to have the camera static but you should chose a better place to put your camera and closer to the person that you are doing the interview because it's cool to see their expressions,thanks

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  • Great tips, thanks.
    In the last conversation cory said " you shouldn't .........."

  • Thanks Cory, Nice clear video, good info.

  • I think this was the single best advice I've seen for improving your blog. He talked about all of the things that totally piss me off as a blog reader and that I try to avoid on my own blog.

    I knew I liked Cory Doctorow for a reason, and not just because I read "Little Brother" in one sitting.

    *laughs* and I sound like such a fangirl, there, but I really did love the interview. Thanks for bringing it to us.

  • I would love to watch a video like this per day! I felt as though I were part of a "around the water-cooler chat" on blogging. I like this casual approach (versus a lecture) and found it informative, with good ideas and great examples. More! More! More!

  • WOW, some great tips. I've been doing things a little backwards and what Cory says makes a lot of sense.

    Thanks for the post!

  • Very nice interview, direct to the point. You learn more from this interview than surfing on the net and trying to find some tips.
    I don't mind to have the camera static but you should chose a better place to put your camera and closer to the person that you are doing the interview because it's cool to see their expressions

  • Loved this video, great job Thomas.

    Great point about headlines and keeping things simple for the reader.

    Hoping to see more videos.

  • This type of advice goes against the grain of what I have learnt previous, but I may just try it to see if it will work and not be just some sort of gimmick that some blog promoters swear by to throw us blogging wannabes off the real deal of blogging successfully.

  • It was a very useful video, thanks! The long view was OK for me, except I'd have preferred more light on the figures and darker in the background.

  • I like the long shot. I think it works great. It's different.

  • thomascrampton

    Thanks for all the commments!

    As for the sound, I recorded it using a pair of audio technica wireless mics.

    I was aiming for the long shot to give the scene more action. I do, however, appreciate the critique that this shot robs the video of the interaction that comes with close-ups.

    Any further thoughts are most welcome.

  • Yeben

    You don't let that woman out very easily, huh.

  • ok now you've had a blogging lesson, now for a videoblogging lesson. I understand what you were trying to do by setting up the camera from across the room, but it didn't really work. When people watch web video (especially Youtube) they want to see faces. They can't see faces when the camera is that far away. That shot would look great on a big HD tv not in a little youtube screen. So get close. In their face. Look at how ZeFrank used to do it--close in the face. Also think about what you are showing people. If you aren't really conveying new or more or different information in the video (even if it's the facial expressions of the speaker) ask yourself how video serves your subject and question why you are doing video in the first place and not just text or audio. Also don't shoot 16x9 if your final product is just gonna be 4x3. If the video you post is gonna be square, shoot in a square aspect ratio.

    Hope you don't think I'm picking on you. I really thought that there was some great info here. I just wish it was better presented.

  • Nice points - thanks for that! It reminds me of some of the advice from 'Dont Make me Think' by Steve Krug - keep it simple, don't bury the lede, make it scannable.

    I love the idea that you treat your headlines / summary by using the notion of 'attention conservation' - allow your readers to skip it if it doesnt tickle them.

    p.s.: You should have shook Cory's hand after the interview!

  • good thing your cam wasn't stolen during the shoot. XD

  • Nice video!

    Just wanted to let you know that your "about me" and "archives" are giving error messages.

  • Nicol

    great, informative vid, thanks.

    out of interest, how did you record the sound? I couldn't see a radio mic on Cory, yet it came through crystal clear, with a lot of potential background noise to compete with.

  • but,
     background noise to compete with.

  • Ahh, he really did want to shake hands!

    Great vid and in theory such simple, helpful information. I've found that my blog posts with the most descriptive headlines or certainly ones with 2-3 key words close to the heart of the matter are the ones that generate the most traffic.

    Will bear in mind for future...

    Thanks

  • Interested to hear (2nd hand)Cory's word on Nielsen.

    I hate Emperor Nielsen's clothes, I find them mostly unwearable and pretty ugly to look at. I don't care if he can prove he's right; he's wrong.

  • chris fedde

    I loved the cinematography of this piece. Good framing. The long shot worked well to set the mood and location. The walk on roles were excellent. The female lead from the first half helped generate an air of suspense that grabbed my attention till the main plot built enough captured my interest.

    Bravo!

    One minor nit: The credits at the end were unreadable.

  • Thanks for the video. It looked like Cory waited to shake your hand as the interview finished.

  • Dom

    "Not at all."...huh?

  • I love the people walking into the picture. You need a camera assistant who would film, and cordon off the area!

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