How to Conquer the Blogoshpere (NEH Magazine)

A version of this article was featured in the October “Geek Issue” of NEH Magazine.

Blogging in Korea is far from a new idea. Down economies worldwide has caused an increase of expats fleeing to the peninsula for employment opportunities. The result is a booming online documentation of their experiences.

Some are extremely insightful. Many are not.

Here is how I imagine the majority of Korea blogs originate.

Move to a mysterious Asian country that most people from home don’t know a thing about. Bewilderment, confusion and culture shock set in, as well as frustration over the inability to speak or read the language. Haven’t met a lot of people yet and don’t want to spend any more time with your co-workers. Miss home but have decided it’s not for you right now. All that said, you love it here, and are looking for a challenge.

So you decide to give the people at home a piece of your far away life. What better way to do that than by starting a blog? They just have to see this strange food you’re eating. Your students are adorable. That constipation advertisement in the subway, with the cartoon character red in the face from trying to squeeze one out, is hilarious. And the bizarre use of the English language, Konglish, is everywhere.

And that’s where most Korea blogs die. Write about these topics for a while and you’ll start to realize a handful of things. The only people reading are friends and family at home. They already thought you were crazy adventurous for coming here. Stat tracking reveals that they don’t check in as often as you would like. Begging for readers on facebook isn’t working. And most important, the longer you live here, the less weird Korea becomes.

Welcome to the blogging crossroads. You lose interest in what you have been writing about. It is harder than you imagined and new ideas are not flowing freely. It’s decision time. Do you give up, allowing your blog to sit in a pile of obscure, outdated, never to be updated cyber trash? Or do you flex your writing muscles in an attempt to be creative, informative, and most important, relevant?

Should you accept the challenge, here are my top 10 suggestions to guide you in the direction.

1 – Not so personal
There are exceptions, but generally, the majority of readers don’t want to learn more about you. But they may be interested in the fundraiser this Saturday, or what art market to visit for the most amazing hand crafted silver jewelry. Try less stories of how wasted you got in Hongdae last weekend and more about the fun you had at the 63 Building Sky Art Gallery.

2 – Write frequently
If you don’t often put words out to read, not many will return to see what other insight you have to share. You may have discovered life on Mars, but if you turned off potential followers because your post about the poor driving habits of Korean ajoshis was the home page of your blog for a month, Martians will remain our undiscovered, distant galactic neighbors. Nobody will see it.

3 – Don’t write too often
Unless you are an already established blog, with hordes of dedicated readers flocking to your every word, posting every day might be a bit much. The wonderful things you do have to say might get lost in the masses. Find the balance that works for you, where you are still able to crank out quality pieces without getting on the bad side of your significant other because the amount of time you spend on a blog that no one reads.

4 – Respond to your readers
When someone comments or sends you an email, write them back. It shows that you appreciate their efforts to read your blog and encourages them to return. Most likely they will share what they have enjoyed with other people.

5 – Read other blogs and make comments
Commenting on other blogs will get you noticed. Typically, when you fill out the form to make a comment, you can link your blog. Educated, well thought out comments will allow you to stand out, perhaps encouraging their readers to click through to your blog. Ignorant comments might do you more harm than good.

6 – Enter contests
Keep a look out for writing, photo and video contests. The results will reveal whether or not your material is meeting quality standards. If it’s not quite there yet, you now have plenty of examples to point you in the right direction. And if you are successful, it’s excellent promotion for your blog.

7 – Keep it organized
Utilize categories and consistent titles to your pieces. When readers find your blog and enjoy what you have to say, give them an easy way to navigate your site to find more of what they are looking for.

8 – Avoid re-posting
Unless you can provide quality original content in response to what you are re-posting, think twice about making this a common option for content. What’s the point in getting information from your blog when they can go straight to the source?

9 – Compliments go a long way
People like to read the nice things you have to say about them. I’m not suggesting you turn in to a back-side smooching suck up. But if you have a good experience, genuinely share it with the world. Then make it accessible to the people you are propping up. You’ll be amazed at how fast your words get passed around.

* I’ve heard complaints lately about how many of the blogs and publications in Korea tend to be loaded with warm fuzzies. What may be lacking is the criticism, perhaps a truthful take on what’s not so great as well. Most experiences have positives and negatives, and we all choose what to highlight in writing. The public in Korea may be ready for a go-to place dishing constructive criticism, maybe even some cold pricklies.

10 – Don’t give up
It’s not going to happen overnight. But keep at it, provide consistent quality writing, giving readers a reason to return, and your chances of becoming successful will increase.

You may be saying, “Hey, I read a lot of successful blogs, and they don’t stick to your top 10.” They have already made it. People read. But how do you think they got there? Chances are, they made the right decisions at the blogging crossroads that guided their creative path in the direction of expression that others are interested in reading.

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~ by ripcitytoseoul on October 28, 2010.

4 Responses to “How to Conquer the Blogoshpere (NEH Magazine)”

  1. I agree that a lot of the points can help, but not so much with the point of this article in general. I think a blog should be done first and foremost because you enjoy doing it, not because you’re planning on becoming popular. Gaining popularity should never be the focus. If it is the main focus, then blogging would become a chore, no? It will be a means to an end rather than an end in itself.

    So I guess that’s an artsy fartsy way of just suggesting that people be passionate in what they do above all, and to do it because they love doing it, without having any goals in mind.

  2. Couldn’t agree with you more, if your aim is to have fun with no goals of popularity in mind. However the article was geared towards those looking to “Conquer the Blogosphere”, those looking for a wide readership. Those people exist.

    You two are the perfect example of people who have fun, love what they do, and because you’re so good at it, have gained an enourmous base of dedicated fans. The best of both worlds.

    • By the way, sorry if I sounded like an ass in that last response. People who do want to conquer the blog world do exist, yes. I’m just hoping they don’t lose perspective on their path to world domination 😀

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