WordCamp 2007: Lorelle VanFossen, Kicking Ass Content Connections

[fr] Lorelle VanFossen explique comment avoir du bon contenu.

These are my notes of Lorelle’s talk, as accurate as possible, but I’m only human. There might be mistakes. Feel free to add links to other write-ups, or correct mistakes, in the comments.

Lorelle: if you want to make money, invest in transportation. We order stuff on the internet and want it now. We should have all got a copy of her book today, but transportation has broken down (UPS) and they aren’t here!

WordCamp 2007 Lorelle Van Fossen

Problems with blogs: so many blogposts look like they were written in 10 minutes by people who

  • can’t type
  • can’t think
  • make you think they were released for the day by an institution.

If you want someone’s attention, you need to show them something they’ve never seen before, or in a way they’ve never seen it before.

Look for the missing subjects. Find the missing pieces. Not everything has been said, and even if it has been said, it can be said better: cleaner, more efficient, or in a new perspective.

Do we really need another “how to install WordPress” article? Before you start writing, do a search. If there are many copies, point to the good ones, find a new angle, don’t regurgitate.

Write about what’s missing. There is always another way, always a better way. We’re trained in school to not ask why. As bloggers, we’re asking why. Ask the whys.

1994: website about travels and stuff… a kind of blog before a blog.

Be an editor for your blog. When is the last time you generated a really good sitemap, looked at what you wrote, what you think you covered and you didn’t? steph-note: I need to do more of that. More editing. But so much screams to be written!

Unless you blog the news, read your feeds at night, sleep on them, think about it. You don’t have to be first out the gate, because other people are first out the gate, no matter how hard you try.

When you jump right in, you’re in a panic to get the stuff out there, you’re just processing and not thinking. And people who read it are the “panicked to get the information” ones. Wait, and you can be the sane voice a few days afterwards. The perception of your audience will also change. (Reader psychology.) The calmer the reader, the wiser they think you are.

2006: tagging; 2007: relationships

What’s the difference between a website and a blog? Comments, conversation, relationships.

Liz Strauss: gives out Successful Blog Awards. She’s started a series on blog strategy building. When you write your blog, you blog for one person: you. steph-note: totally agreed.

A successful blog is a blog you arrive on looking for information, and it gives you a feeling of “home” — safe, has the info I want, looks like me. (We like comments which say “You’re right! I agree with you!”) First impression to go for: this is the place that has answers I need, it’s familiar and safe. Blog for you and to you. steph-note: gosh, I really need to work on CTTS

How do we know when a blogger is faking it (audience):

  • factual information that’s wrong, when we know better
  • too many ads and affiliate links
  • excerpts and no added value — blog-quoting
  • people that just re-post their twitters

Dead Sea Scrolls: scraps containing journal entries or info about people’s everyday lives.

Our blogs are note on our boring everyday lives for the future, at the least. Write for the future.

Playstation fake blog: top search results are about the fake blog, not about the playstation itself.

I don’t get any comments! Tips:

  • too many people are still writing for their eighth-grade teacher. Complete sentences, complete thoughts, complete ideas — complete essays. Doesn’t leave any space for response. Don’t finish the idea. Leave things out on purpose.

Don’t respond to every comment, but make your readers think that you do. Blog your passion, your ideas, show that you care, say thank you (don’t fake it, though). Avoid “Now, what do you think?”. Doesn’t work.

Be with your readers like an old married couple — let them finish your sentences. Blog about what other people are blogging about. Blog about their conversations, and add stuff. Don’t challenge people to blog about something. Be linky. Comment on other blogs, but intelligently. Make people want to see your blog! We all do it. It’s our job to help our fellow bloggers continue the conversation. Comment in a way which will help the conversation go further. steph-note: un poil didactique, là.

steph-note: Lorelle giving a shout-out to a bunch of people from the WP community who are in the room.

Help each other, share connections, blog about each other, comment on your friends’ blogs…

Lorelle has been under WordPress since pre-1.2.

“I lived in Israel 5 years. I know about terrorism, so I know how to handle comments on my blog!”

Lorelle doesn’t care about stats. They’re not important for what she does. She’s been doing this too long, doesn’t care anymore.

Write timeless stuff. One of her posts from two years ago was dugg over Thanksgiving.

Q: fictional blogs. Good or bad, when it’s not clear? Blogotainment.

A: if people know, it makes a difference. disclosure.

Q: could too many guidelines/rules turn us into the traditional media?

A: has a lot of rules for her blog (ie, doesn’t blog about politics, personal life, dad dying, being sick…) — she has very focused blogs.

Q: Fighting comment spam?

A: Akismet, Spam Karma, Bad Behavior.

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10 Responses to WordCamp 2007: Lorelle VanFossen, Kicking Ass Content Connections

  1. Jessi says:

    Thank you for transcribing notes! I was there. I enjoyed Lorelle’s hammy, chummy delivery. Her direction to leave “holes” in our posts that our readers can fill in with comments was the most sound advice given the entire day.

    Wow, when I tried to post this comment just now, an alert came up that said since I use Safari, I have to change my security prefs to allow all cookies always. Then it refreshed the page, getting rid of my comment draft! Luckily I was able to use my back button to get to it. I’m changing my prefs and will change them back after this posts. I won’t do it again, though! I hope you change your commenting system to make it easier for Safari users.

  2. Bart says:

    I liked Lorelle’s talk the least. She sounded like a car salesman / church pastor and I didn’t like her telling people how to blog. There were also a lot of contradictions in her talk, like the part about “finding holes to fill,” then telling us to leave stuff out of our posts on purpose just to elicit comments. I take offense to the notion that the quality of a post can be judged by the number of comments it receives (go to TMZ.com and you will find the opposite to be the case) and it doesn’t seem very authentic to be writing posts just to get more comments. On my favorite blogs, I’ve read many great posts that didn’t generate a lot of comments. It’s nice to see something written so well that makes you think “wow, that was so great I don’t even have anything to add”.

  3. Lorelle says:

    Actually, I believe that if I said anything about the quality of posts it was about the quality of the comments, not the quantity. Quantity isn’t important. That’s why I don’t look at my stats very often, nor blog for them. I blog for the one reader, not the many and most of my posts don’t get comments.

    The point of the two points mentioned, Bart, was that we as bloggers need to share our experiences and expertise to find what’s missing that isn’t being talked about. Sometimes those are the most important points to be made, not the obvious ones.

    And IF you want comments, a constant question I get teaching blogging techniques, then present your information in a way that lets the reader join into the conversation. You can write a “complete” idea that invites participation, but expecting comments when you leave no room for conversation won’t get you comments.

    Stephanie, thank you for the great description of my talk. I love all the audience input that helped guide the program. Oh, and my comment about knowing about terrorism, that was against handling comment spammers not comments in general. :D

  4. Bart says:

    Personally, I think people should say what they want to say in their blog as thoroughly and effectively as possible, then the comments and traffic will follow. Rarely is anyone perfect enough that they will stop all conversation with their writing.

    I feel like “how do I get more comments” was an overall theme of how you (Lorelle) talked about things, even when you were commenting on other people’s talks. When I’m following someone’s blog, there’s nothing worse than seeing an author’s writing shift towards doing things to get more comments instead of just focusing on what they want to say. I’ve known many people who get discouraged when their posts get few comments and stop writing the things that got me reading their blog on a regular basis in the first place. Even worse is when people start complaining in their next posts how this and this didn’t get them the attention they wanted.

    This gets into artistic integrity. Should an artist change what he paints to fill up his galleries more quickly? Should a musician write songs about topics that more people are interested in? I think it should all just come from the heart and the rest will follow.

  5. Lorelle says:

    You are so write – I mean, right. :D

    Integrity wins. Always.

    I just wish it wasn’t so hard for everyone to think, live, and work that way.

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