“My revenge is just begun! I spread it over centuries, and time is on my side!”
The question of who reads your blog visits your website or consumes your content is one that has perplexed many a mind greater than my own. Apart from my Mother popping in for a read or the reach a Facebook post gets, it is difficult to get to grips with the concept of Stakeholders or for that matter stake holders. There are a few questions to help focus the mind. What are you doing this for? What do you want this thing to look like? Who do you want to see it? How do you get to those people? Finally and perhaps most alarmingly, what do you do if Google statistics are scary and visitors scarce?
Without getting too academic it’s worth thinking about Freeman…
“A stakeholder in an organisation is (by definition) any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the Organisations objectives”
R.E. Freeman, 1984
Creating engaging content that draws groups or individuals to your organisation (See, blog, site, social, cafe etc) is a challenge. The first thing to consider is what do you want this thing to be. Consider if you will the NME site. What was for a time the home of great music coverage and the bastion of Britpop, NME has become nothing short of a laughing stock of slop, awash with purposeless nonsense that makes you regret visiting. There is no theme; anything that comes under popular culture gets rolled out and with that, you’ll find some content that is there to test the waters and make you wonder if anyone is getting paid. The physical magazine is now a freebie and little more than a vehicle for advertisers, though I can’t really be quoted on that as I’ve only lifted it once. Once was enough. I’ve just visited the site again and I have more questions than answers.
Firstly, who is Skrillex and what does he want?
If you are looking for engaging content in the field of music then I would vouch for Getintothis and The Thin Air (Obviously) Aside from that there is The Quietus where you’ll find a good mix of serious music heads who know their stuff, The Wire where you’ll find beautiful design and the kind of articles you’ll not find elsewhere and finally, the Manchester District Music Archive which does exactly what it says on the tin. If you’re looking for a mix of music, photography and art then head to Juxtapoz.
What ties these sites together is a definition of purpose, clear objectives, clickability and interesting reads. You’ll find a huge investment of time, creativity, energy and imagination. How do we find success in a world overflowing with information? You need to generate great content and bring people back again and again. Doing that on an ongoing basis is hard. Doing that on your own on an ongoing basis is even harder.
Figuring out what you want you and your site to be and do is key. I’m *cough* 40 (ish) *cough* years old and I’m not sure I have that ‘you’ bit figured out yet. What I know is that I can put a few words together on a page or screen, make sense of things and take a pretty decent picture. I can also rustle up a stakeholder programme In Real Life, manage a project or two without losing too many parts of it, raise some money for your organisation, create new ideas, rustle up an event or festival and look after weary artistic heads. It could be said I am prone to political outbursts and strong opinions. (See Twitter. I’m sorry)
How does any of that relate to this blog then?
We can all agree that the world does not need another blog, a quick search suggests there are endless lists of terrible blogs, terrible sites and atrocious social pages, the web is awash in nonsense. Why add to that? For me this blog is a collection of stuff from all kinds of places, some published, some not, some perhaps unpublishable. But I think I’m managing to narrow down the possible audience, the mythical thing that is stakeholders.
My guess is that my ‘stakeholders’ are anyone that reads my work on Getintothis, The Thin Air or elsewhere and fancy a little more, anyone looking for a photographer or stakeholder management specialist, my Mother and, well, you. I can use this as a launch pad for my other social pages and the rest and share my thoughts on the state of the world, share my resume in the hope of gainful employment and if my prose is appropriate perhaps I’ll get a writing gig or two. Who knows.
As for the What do you want this to look like? question I tend towards clean, clear and simple. As an aside, trying to find a free WordPress theme that keeps everything on the front page free of scrolling is harder than you think. Keeping the text on that page as simple as possible is key to getting clicks. I hope.
My photography site over at punksatonyphil.com (Dead link! everything is here) has been a work in progress for a few years. I’ve ended up with fewer albums, fewer images and a cleaner look. The site loads faster as a result.
It took a while to realise that not every single event needed to be posted, blogged or explored. Less is actually more. See any number of event photo albums on Facebook where the number of images is in the hundreds. He may well be a great bass player but I don’t need to see 27 images of him.
I’m always looking for interesting web designs on a simple platform, I’ve listed a few here… I host the Punksaphil site on Carbonmade, its simple, clean and quick. More importantly, its cheap and the service is impeccable, the options to make your site your own are plentiful, if you’re a designer or photographer it might be well worth a look. BlogTO is a favourite, its an all in Toronto blog that updates a few times a day, it has just had an overhaul that hasn’t been well received in T dot, being contrary I prefer the new site. Its slick and loaded with beautiful images.
The Dead Rabbit has won the best bar in the world award so many times its become boring at this point. Their site is slick, beautiful and deceptively simple. I’ll get there one day for a taster session. Ciaran Lavery is a true gentleman from the village of Aghagallon in County Antrim, not a long road away from my part of the world. His site and his sounds are sublime, itas easy to see and hear everything on the site. I have yet to make it to Jones&Co bookshop in Donegal but I know the owner.
Not only is Donegal the most remarkable place on earth but it is home to Jones&Co. Their blog is beautiful, the images are gentle and theme inviting. The most recent blog is on Orwells 1984, perfect timing…
I would be remiss not to mention the good Doctors work, the newly launched D’Sa Laboratory site designed by our good pal Scott is a marked difference from anything I’ve seen in science. Scientists aren’t great web designers so anything that looks different becomes a talking point, as this site has recently. That logo though? Beaut. Scott is also responsible for the beautiful Freedom Acts site and its gorgeous.
One final heads up has to go to Oliver Jeffers. Apart from anything else the man creates the most beautiful picture books, paintings and, well, stuff. His website is beautiful, everything loads in where you want it and it is quick. His social channels are beautiful, he creates themed images for world events and political issues. Have a look.
The last question and perhaps the most crucial is about clicks, statistics on SEO. Search Engine Optimisation. SEO is the big kahuna, this is the key thing you need to figure out. Great content, engaging content, that is what drives people to your site. Link to others, have them link to you. These links are crucial is building your profile. Build on social engagement, allow people to share, share and share again. Keep building, keep creating.
One final thought. If you take the time to figure out what you want to do, figure out how you want it to look, understand how you should engage, understand who your readers are, tailor your content to their tastes the world is your oyster. The only way to do that is to ensure you are open to discussions, sharing ideas and thoughts. It is crucial that you actually engage with your readers not just share ‘to’ them. All of this helps build you, build your brand and create the right image. Just try your best to keep it real to you.
Just look out for the vampires and keyboard warriors.
And Mel Gibson.
Always look out for Mel Gibson.