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Thursday, 10 March 2011

Blogging Tips

There is plenty of advice on the internet about how to do the old blogging. How to promote the blog, how to make money off of the blog, that sort of thing. Fuck all advice on how to actually write properly, which is why the "blogosphere" contains so many incorrectly used apostrophes and stupid made up words like "blogosphere", but plenty about the traffic getting and the money making.

A lot of this advice is boring and a bit pony - update your blog regularly, write about stuff you actually know about so you aren't talking bollocks, get your friends to post links on their blogs, do bloody Twitter (follow me at - every time you don't, a pony cries, trust me, they can cry)... All sound, but face it, you could have figured any of that out for yourself.

So, here are some tips from the dark side of the "blogosphere" (fuck, I can't stop saying it now!). This is the shit they don't tell you, but you need to know. It won't make you rich. It definitely won't do that. I'd just like to make that clear before we start.

Tip #1: Search engines WILL bring perverts to your site - use this

Well, sure, I swear a bit, and I have my content warning smacked on the front so nobody gets in trouble for reading all those naughty words at the office, but this is primarily a site where nothing all that dirty happens. There aren't even any pictures. My Facebook page is dirtier than this.

Despite this, barely a day goes by when I don't look at my site's stats and see that at least one person has arrived on my blog because they have been searching for "women sucking off ponies" or "Pony fucking porn" or "Catherine Zeta Jones getting fucked by pony" (really, that one has come up twice). If you have arrived here because you were looking for something along those lines, or, and I don't even know what this means but it is a popular one out there, "who is Charlie Sheen's pony?" (it might not be dirty, that one, but I expect that it is), then first of all, shame on you, and second of all: I'm sorry.

I'm sorry if you are sitting there, cock in hand, expecting to see images of young ladies fellating farmyard animals. I am sorry that instead, you get a site with newspaper opinion column style articles about EU directives affecting the insurance industry, or just how much I dislike the Argos catalogue. Nobody is going to wank over that. Not even you, you creepy horse porn watching creep.

Whatever you write about, given the nature of creepy internet pervs, you will get at least the odd weirdo stumbling upon your finely crafted literature, because there is probably no combination of words you can use that will never match a porn search of some sort. I was kind of expecting the "pony" thing to be a problem, but it turns out "trap" is a slang term for a transvestite as well, so even just my title suggests I'm just begging for dirty, dirty guys to come on my stuff. So to speak.

There are probably ways we can use this. Maybe I could operate a sister site which actually is just pictures of Catherine Zeta Jones superimposed onto some horse porn. And, for some reason "Elton John shitting himself"... I have been toying with ideas. Very briefly, I toyed with the idea of making some pony porn myself, but once I sobered up I realised that was a bad idea - I can't afford a pony and I live in an apartment so where would I keep him? And where do you find hookers willing to do that outside of Charlie Sheen's house (double shame on you if you thought I was going to act in the pony porn myself!)? But until I have my pervert exploitation eureka moment, I basically just take the approach that all publicity is good publicity, and so I don't shy away from using sentences that sound like filthy Google searches in my otherwise clean as a whistle posts. I also casually mention unrelated celebrities that people like to search for naked pictures of. Let's see how many times I can seamlessly include the words "Megan Fox" in the rest of this article... Or, "Megan Fox and Jessica Alba in lesbian hardcore". Yeah, Pony and Trap welcomes onanists of all persuasions.

Tip #2: Think locally, blog globally

Yeah, that title was pretty gay, wasn't it? But anyway...

I'm an English person from England, and most of the shit I write references UK culture quite a lot. Surprisingly though, UK readers make up only half of the traffic I get on my site. A large proportion of the others is, as you might expect given some of the topics I've covered, American, then there's Canada, Australia and New Zealand all bringing in their fair share, mainland European countries, and then some seemingly more random places, given the fact I use a lot of UK slang and talk about stuff like the Cow and Gate advert, why the BBC Sunday schedule sucks and how much I dislike the Argos catalogue, which surely isn't something people in Vietnam are all that bothered about. Sure, they could be proxies. Or ex pats. But I like to think that somewhere, right now, somebody in the Philippines is reading my last post and wondering what the hell Aleksander the Meerkat is.

The internet brings the world together and allows people who would never otherwise have met to become friends, business contacts, even to shag each other, so your blog will, if you're lucky, be seen by people from all the corners of the globe (which doesn't have corners, but that's still a thing people say so it's fine).

This doesn't mean you should stay away from your local idioms and references to stuff specific to your culture and environment. People like that. An American friend of mine who lives in Seattle and is a big supporter of this blog went and Googled the Cow and Gate advert after I said the woman's voice was annoying, and then he agreed that it was. If people aren't familiar with a phrase you use or a thing you talk about they will either seek to learn, or skim over that bit and still be more than able to take on your main points. Family Guy is incredibly popular in the UK, but it is full to bursting with references to obscure American 1980's sitcoms and commercials. If you don't get the reference, it seems surreal and even more funny. It has gone massively downhill of late and Seth Macfarlane now pretty much just annoys the b'jaysus out of me, but the point still stands: Welcome your foreign readers, but don't patronise them.

Tip #3: Controversy is fun, but don't expect a proper debate

I sometimes think that when I write about things that annoy me, I am writing less for the people who agree with me and more for the people who don't. I want people to argue with me, to get a bit of healthy debate going on. I wrote that I think quotas for female MPs are the stupidest idea since George Lucas conceived of Jar Jar Binks. I wrote that people who cycle to work are the smuggest, most irritating people in all of London town (including the bankers - wow, imagine a banker who cycled to work... That would be the Everest of shit. A veritable cuntocalypse.). So, where better to promote such articles than on Facebook groups for people who love cycling and to Mary Ann Sieghart's Twitter followers (she was, if you remember, the one who wrote the article saying quotas for women were basically essential. Yesterday we actually had a minor argument on Twitter. I won.). I wasn't expecting those who found their way to my blog from these places to agree, but I was expecting them to have some kind of argument in their arsenal (Arsenal fans - don't like them either...).

Instead, all I got was somebody calling me an "unpleasant piece of poo", which is the kind of insult that a primary school kid would think was tame, someone suggesting I should "swear less and avoid the ad hominem approach", which really served only to suggest they hadn't got that swearing is my thing (it's in the fucking opening paragraph under the title, fool!) and they had no idea what ad hominem meant, someone saying I was like "Jeremy Clarkson, but a version you would find in Oxfam", which I took as a compliment - even being a poor man's Jeremy Clarkson is better than being no man's nothing, and being told I had a small penis and an even smaller brain. There was no actual rebuttal, no effort made to discuss things, to try and change my mind, just fairly lame name calling. Jesus, I wouldn't even mind the name calling if they had been cool or original with it...

Controversy will get you more views. It will bring people in for one time only. But it won't do what I hoped it would and actually start anything interesting. Well, unless the people who disagree with you are cleverer than the people who disagree with me...

Tip #4: Reveal nothing about yourself, it's funnier that way

OK, so this only works on a certain type of blog. If you write the diary style of blog, where you talk about yourself and what books you are reading and put up pictures of your cats and stuff, obviously you can't use this tip at all. As an aside, those blogs can do quite well. I had always wondered what the point was and thought it was a bit fucked up, people reading about someone they don't even know and their minor daily events and hopes and dreams - kind of like looking at somebody you have never met's photo albums. I wondered how nosey one would have to be to enjoy reading that. But a mate of mine, someone I have known since she was five (that sounds creepy, but it isn't, we're the same age and were in infant school together), has one of these and it is actually fascinating. It's kind of interesting to see how someone you know represents themselves to the world, and the content is good too - sometimes she reviews books and movies, but it all has the personal, conversational feel and you really get the impression she is writing for fun, rather than to make any kind of point or somehow make money. Hats off to people who can pull off that sort of thing and make it compelling.

What I do here is nothing like that.

I have, on a couple of occasions, given away my age, and alluded vaguely to the sort of work I do, but that is it. One thing I have never come out and said is whether I'm a man or a woman (I did on Twitter yesterday though, so if you want to know simply follow me ;)). This is partly because it shouldn't be important, but more because it's more fun that way. If I am a woman, those comments about my tiny penis look a bit stupid and assumptive. If I'm a man, then, well, I guess all that casual misogyny makes a whole lot more sense. But hey. It's interesting to see the assumptions people make when they need to fill in the gaps. It's also easier to not get fired if I at least try to conceal my identity...

I hope these tips are useful to you, and if not that you have enjoyed this kind of "behind the scenes" thing. Normal service will be resumed as soon as something interesting happens in the news.

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