After 9 Years of Blogging Tirelessly…

I am still going strong!

The 27th of October has always been a special day on my calendar since forever. Besides the fact that it’s my birthday (cough!), it’s also National Blogger Day in Indonesia. Today also marked my ninth year of blogging. I’ve never thought I would’ve gone this far. Especially these days, when social media enjoyment has taken over the joy of hitting ‘publish’ button on your blog dashboard and get some likes and comments from readers of your blog(s). But this is definitely not the end of my blogging pursuit.

It’s true that I’d never planned to develop this blog to be a really professionally-managed one so that I can make some money of it. As you can see, this blog has some spots of Google Ads but to be brutally honest, it doesn’t generate even a single cent of income for the blogkeeper. That said, I get into thinking that I must soon take down all these useless ads and quit being the disgruntled ad publisher. It doesn’t add value for my readership anyway.

So why do I keep blogging if I don’t make money AT ALL? You may ask.

In my first amateurish blog (akhlispurnomo.blogspot.com), in the most confident and shameless way I picked a tagline, “Blogging, My Second Religion”. You can laugh at it now, but that’s somehow still the perfect description of my reason of writing this blog (and some others).

Very few of these write-ups on my blogs generated enough money to feed me, at the very least. Yet, I always long for the satisfaction that I can only feel when there are some readers who leave comments or silent readers who never leave comments but someday I ran into and told me they liked some of my articles a lot. Probably this is very self-centered. It’s a way to satiate my hungry ego, but once again why should I stop blogging when I can entertain and inform people around me or around the world with some bits of my thought and opinions?

I’ve got to admit that I almost completely abandoned this blog’s domain, which is like a hard-earned domain. I once had a domain of my full name but along the way I failed to renew it (blame it on the M@#$%^& credit card!) and it got bought by some opportunistic domain buyer who may have thought I would beg him or her to give me the domain at a much higher cost.

Just a month ago, before my domain expired, I came to a decision that I might just let this go. “It’s a hobby so why bother spending money for it?” I thought. I considered relying only on the free blog hosting service like WordPress.com and Blogger.com but then I reweighed it after a course of content marketing that I took. It said owning a domain that bears our name is a must if we aim to be a competent, competitive digital player. Well, I made up my mind and renewed it.

Each word in this blog (and some others) shows you my ups and downs; progress and regress; happiness and sorrow. It’s a long winding road of my life journey and self-development. I get almost completely intellectually naked in my blog write-ups, which I further think is quite scary and risky in the future. That’s why every time I write, I keep reminding myself of the risk of posting stuff on the web. No blogging allowed when I get angry and emotional! Or else I’ll regret it. And even if I intended my write-ups to be less offensive and more helpful for some, I still find some others getting upset by what I write on this very blog.

Lesson to learn? We can never satisfy everyone.

Though I humbly admit that my blog is not an extremely popular one, I take pride of it. In this social media age, when Instagram caption or Facebook status or tweets is what you call ‘write-ups’, I can still find time and collect my intellectual energy for this seemingly pointless undertaking.

I guess this clearly defines what passion is really. Passion is something we still do even if we no longer (or never) can make money of it, or something we keep doing even if we have to make money from other jobs but we still stick to this one ‘useless’ thing.

So I can say after 9 years of tirelessly blogging, I hardly made money from this blog but the blog has made it POSSIBLE for me to land many jobs, ranging from a journalist, a copywriter, a translator, an editor, a book writer, a magazine writer and even a guest lecture, which never snapped on my mind. All these jobs are paying ones (forget about the image of a lonely, tortured, poverty-stricken writer). This would be different if I had spent my time for writing Facebook updates, producing tweets like crazy, or selecting the right diction for a caption on Instagram to impress followers.

Anyway, happy National Bloggers Day! Keep blogging no matter what! (*/)

Blogger Idealis VS Blogger Komersil: Pilih Mana?

img 20150122 123724
(Dok pribadi)

“My blogging life is basically goalless. I like the zen nature of that, and paradoxically, it improves results.”- Seth Godin

SEBAGAI blogger, saya bukan termasuk blogger yang gemar mengunjungi acara-acara kolosal yang dihadiri blogger-blogger atau citizen journalists. Mungkin karena saya memulai menulis blog bukan hanya sekadar keinginan mengikuti tren. Saya pantang menyerah dan masih juga memperbarui konten tanpa ada insentif apapun meski saat itu [tahun 2009] saya hanya bisa mengakses internet berbekal koneksi nirkabel yang kecepatannya membuat saya harus berkali-kali mengelus dada dan begadang sampai pukul dua pagi [entah kenapa koneksi internet makin lancar saat langit makin gelap. Saya ingin bertanya pada Smart sebagai penyedia layanan saat itu tapi belum sampai pada mereka].

Saya tidak bermaksud arogan saat mengatakan saya tak lagi memiliki hasrat untuk menghadiri acara-acara blogging tetapi karena saya merasa saya sudah menemukan tujuan saya dalam menulis blog.

Tidak munafik, dulu sebetulnya saya sering berusaha menyempatkan diri untuk menghadiri acara-acara seperti itu tetapi seiring berjalannya waktu, saya merasa makin lelah dan merasakan adanya desakan untuk meningkatkan ilmu dan pengalaman dengan tidak melulu mempelajari hal yang sama berulang kali.

Setelah sembilan (9) tahun menggeluti dunia blogging ini, saya sangat bersyukur karena saya sudah bisa menggapai banyak hal dengan berbekal blog-blog amatir yang sudah saya tulis. Maksud saya ‘amatir’, blog-blog saya hanya bercokol di domain-domain platform blogging gratis semacam wordpress.com seperti ini atau blogger.com.

Saya menggunakan blog-blog itu sebagai batu loncatan dan latihan untuk meyakinkan diri saya bahwa saya memang bisa dan piawai menulis. Dan saat saya sudah meyakinkan diri saya bahwa saya bisa, giliran saya meyakinkan orang lain mengenai hal yang sama. Dan saat itulah, saya tunjukkan karya saya dalam bentuk blog-blog ini. Sebelum mendapatkan pekerjaan sebagai jurnalis, saya memakai blog-blog ini sebagai portofolio yang saya bisa sodorkan pada pemberi kerja dan syukurlah, pemberi kerja yakin dengan apa yang saya sudah lakukan itu.

Jadi, sekali lagi saya tidak berkata saya menulis blog hanya untuk idealisme. Saya juga tentunya ingin mendulang keuntungan dari sini. Tetapi masalahnya keuntungan itu, apapun bentuknya, tidaklah bisa didapatkan secara instan dan bentuknya tidaklah mesti keuntungan finansial yang jumlahnya menggiurkan dan konstan datangnya.

Lalu muncullah keluhan-keluhan mengenai munculnya blogger-blogger yang passion utamanya ialah memfasilitasi brand-brand tertentu [entah mau mereka benar-benar pakai atau tidak, mereka sukai atau tidak] dalam upaya marketing dan sales.

Saya akui saya juga tidak kebal dari iming-iming semacam itu. Di blog ini, beberapa unggahan artikel saya adalah tulisan yang saya buat dalam rangka mempromosikan produk dan layanan brand tertentu [Anda bisa cari sendiri].

Namun, dari semangat yang menggebu-gebu untuk meraup hadiah, lama-kelamaan saya berpikir ada yang salah rasanya jika saya mengobral ruang di blog saya ini dengan memuat konten apa saja yang bersifat komersial, tanpa mempedulikan pandangan dan opini saya sendiri.

Ini bisa jadi karena saya sudah mulai menemukan ceruk saya sendiri untuk menulis secara profesional. Saya tidak menganggap blogging sebagai suatu sumur minyak satu-satunya yang saya harus eksploitasi secara maksimal. Saya menggantungkan sumber nafkah pada pekerjaan saya yang utama sehingga saya bisa lebih berdaulat di blog saya sendiri. Kedaulatan itu berupa kebebasan saya untuk menentukan konten atau tulisan seperti apa yang bisa saya masukkan atau tidak di blog saya. Mau ada yang membaca atau tidak, saya tetap memperbarui blog saya karena saya masih yakin bahwa konten yang bagus dan bermanfaat akan didatangi pengunjung bagaimanapun caranya. Organik, begitu satu istilah untuk menggambarkannya.

Seorang blogger yang sudah menulis lebih lama dari saya menyinggung soal suasana blogger saat ini terutama di Jakarta yang dipenuhi persaingan dan komersialisme. Interaksi sesama blogger, katanya, bukan lagi soal-soal substansial mengenai isu yang berkaitan dengan ketertarikan/ passion mereka tetapi melenceng ke monetisasi. Pokoknya bagaimana menambang uang dari blog. Atau jika bukan soal monetisasi, malah mereka membahas soal prestise semu semacam pagerank, Alexa rank, dan sebagainya. Lupakan soal influence, dampak yang diharapkan agar perubahan menuju ke arah yang lebih baik itu ada di masyarakat.

Menulis di blog pribadi memang tidak bisa 100% dianggap sebagai sumber penghasilan dan memang jangan sampai dianggap seperti itu.

“Blogging ONLY for money is a total bullshit.”

Itu menurut saya. Kecuali bagi orang-orang yang sudah memiliki komoditas yang jelas dan dibutuhkan untuk dijual ke masyarakat, seperti kepakaran, reputasi, ketenaran, ketrampilan, produk fisik, atau jasa.

Blogger-blogger yang ‘gagal’ memiliki atau membangun komoditas berharga untuk dijual via blog mereka biasanya berpikir pendek dengan ‘membangun kerjasama’ bersama brand-brand dan perusahaan-perusahaan untuk tetap bisa menghasilkan sesuatu dari aktivitas blogging mereka supaya tidak dikatakan pekerjaan yang sia-sia atau mubazir oleh orang-orang di sekitar mereka. Tak heran sekarang banyak blogger yang merasa sudah dikenal dan mulai berani untuk mengajukan diri sebagai pengulas produk dan jasa dengan imbalan yang biasanya berupa produk, voucher, tiket, kesempatan berwisata atau menginap yang semuanya gratis. Kalau tidak ada freebies sejenis itu, setidaknya ada goodie bags [yang biasanya berisi flash disk, notes, kaos, pulpen, wadah kartu nama, dan sebagainya] yang bisa dibawa pulang. Fenomena semacam ini nyata adanya di  antara para blogger gaya hidup (lifestyle) dan pelesir (traveling) yang memang sedang jaya-jayanya sekarang.

Sekarang ini saya telah menemukan dan akan terus berupaya memelihara keseimbangan dengan sesekali ikut lomba blogging yang temanya sesuai dengan minat, passion serta opini pribadi saya juga. Jadi kecil sekali kemungkinan saya mau menulis soal produk yang saya bahkan tidak pernah pakai, atau bahkan saya kurang sukai.

Ada tanggung jawab moral untuk mencoba dan membuktikannya dahulu agar orang lain tidak mengalami kerugian yang sama [bila memang ada kerugiannya] dan bisa mendapatkan faedah yang serupa [jika kita temukan manfaat positifnya].

Dan tentu saya masih akan terus menulis opini, pengalaman dan pemikiran saya yang tidak akan didapatkan dari blog-blog orang lain betapapun mereka lebih segala-galanya dari saya. (*/)

The Roadmap to Writing Like an Expert

Anyone can write. Your 4-year-old child can write simple sentences on the wall of his bedroom. Your nephew writes an essay on how more civilized and developed this country can be without Trans TV airing Raffi Ahmad’s live update of the wedding ceremony. Your teenage neighbor writes rants on Twitter every minute of his waking hours. And your 76-year-old grand father writes replies to your BBM messages on his smartphone.

Not everyone, however, writes and gets the acknowledgment as an expert and gets paid with a hefty sum of money.

Jason Calacanis – an Internet entrepreneur cum blogger – spills his tricks on how to approach writing and blogging so people will know you as an expert. Here’s the roadmap.

Pick a subject you’re most passionate about.

Spend one hour a day writing about it on a blog called “your first name + the topic” or “the topic + your first name”. For instance, “yoga akhlis” (or “yogakhlis”, like I’ve invented in my Instagram hashtag for my yoga photos). So I have to write about yoga every day for an hour (or more, if I want to speed up the process).

And then write about other people writing about it. This makes you more connected and relevant to the world, or at the very least to people around you.

Don’t forget to link to these people whose writing you praise, criticize or review. Let them know you have your own opinions on their thoughts. Of course, you may add or negate or improve what s/he wrote. Be yourself when you write.

After that, write comments around the web as the name of your blog (in my case, it is yogakhlis). And then after you have a year of your work, you may bring that to people who want to write about that certain topic (in my case, it’s yoga), and you’ll be likely to get more access. Because you have brain and have more knowledge on the subject like an expert (but by this point, definitely you’ve become one, if you really really write it on your own, not paraphrasing or quoting others’ thoughts only).

Now, you’re likely to get into writing and get a writing job because you manage to differentiate yourself from everybody else!

Calacanis added,”If you’re really good at what you do, they cannot stop you!” If you have performance with so refined skills after years of practicing and mean into it, you’re bound to be successful.

In journalism, said Calacanis, some people write so well and they practice it over and over again and they write some long-form pieces. You should keep on writing, regardless of anything. Only you can stop yourself, he firmly stated.

{source: A Fireside Chat by Sarah Lacy with Jason Calacanis /image credit: YouTube screenshot }

Building a Blog as a Business

‎If you were not like most blog readers, you’d find comments below a post a lot more engaging than content of it. It’s not because content in discussion is boring or a cliche, but more because it manages to spark a (luke)warm exchange of ideas amongst readers who decide to leave comments.

I saw a male commenter trying to make sense‎ the whole thing, as to why a blog needs investors. He argues,”It’s just a blogging software, pay for some hosting and call it a day, right?” He doesn’t seem to take staff’s salaries and other aspects into account, which he should have.

But he got it all wrong. Blogs can be an entity of serious business if founders or bloggers wish to operate it like a REAL business instead of a small home-based business. It’s obviously not one of those diary blogs where you can read daily rants of a blogger who may be using the f word at his or her disposal.

Setting up a blog is ‎one thing and maintaining it is another. Even if your blog has reached millions of visitors, things are not that easy for most bloggers who expect to earn a living by making profits of his blogs.

‎But a blog alone won’t make bloggers or writers go too far these days. You cannot just sit and post writeups on a daily basis and hope business is going better on is own. You need to figure out the best ways to build products around the blogs. Something you can sell, a business model that makes money and solve problems at the same time.

That explains why ‎writers and bloggers publish ebooks, produce paid webinars, podcasts, and provide consulting service as well.

And that’s what separates blogs as a medium of rants and a serious business entity. Pretty much…

Not Everyone Must Be a Blogger

matt mNot everyone should be a blogger, says WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg. Simply because not everyone has the passion to share things online. “Not everyone’s a creator,”claims he.

But maybe everyone’s a creator, Matt. But not everyone has the passion of sharing.

That reminds me of a friend who happens to like sharing long long updates on Path. She rants a lot once in a while on stuff she cares so much about like parenting but she tends to refuse the idea of blogging because she assumes it’s not what she really is. In many ways, the blogging thing is something  she thinks way too time and intellectual labor intensive. Yet, she can afford the hassle of writing such long updates on Path, which makes me confused. It turns out she doesn’t think sharing ideas to the rest of the world without limit is her thing. That’s something I could never understand. Why writing for only yourself or a limited number of people when you know what you share is useful to not only your inner circle but also everyone who shares the same shoes with you?

Blogging should be done with passion as it’d be tiresome for many without passion to write up like every single day. And this is not everyone can and wants to do. Writing every day is a grind and writing every day to get significant audience is another challenge to conquer.

There’re bloggers who shift path to microblogging like Twitter simply because it’s more succinct and instant a a tool of interaction. The Great Robert Scobble would be one of the examples. In Indonesia, we’ve got Nukman Luthfie, who happened to be an early adopter of blogging and online journalism in the country but as Twitter emerged as a new channel of communication, Nukman spends more time to tweet than blog. It’s all about passion once again. And not all bloggers are all that consistent when it comes to writing consistently. Of course they still write but not in the long form as often as they did before. Instant gratification? I bet.

Blogging may be adopted and then abandoned or vice versa but no one can ddeny that blogging is constant in the way that it serves as our digital home. You can have as many social media accounts as you want but all those lead you to one single place: your site or blog.

Jika Menulis Jadi Otomatis (Tren Robot Penulis Berita)

Berhati-hatilah dengan impian dan harapan Anda. Begitu kata pepatah dari negeri China. Jika Anda bekerja sebagai pewarta, dan Anda pernah mengeluhkan betapa beratnya beban kerja Anda selama ini (misalnya karena harus turun ke lapangan, mengejar narasumber, menjalani piket/ shift malam dan dini hari yang membuat jam tidur kacau balau) dan ingin proses membuat berita menjadi semudah mengayunkan tongkat sihir dan mengucapkan mantra, selamat! Impian Anda sudah terwujud.

Beberapa waktu lalu saya pernah membaca sebuah artikel tentang bagaimana menulis buku yang praktis, yang ternyata dilakukan dengan bantuan software tertentu. Saya anggap ‘inovasi’ itu sungguh absurd. Jikalau memang teknologi semacam itu akan marak nantinya, tak serta merta ia bisa menjamin kualitas buku yang dihasilkan. Tetap saja harus ada campur tangan manusia dalam prosesnya. Otomatisasi tidak akan bisa seratus persen menggeser peran penulis dan segenap intelejensia, pengalaman, gagasan dan emosi mereka yang khas dan tiada duanya. Inilah yang tidak akan bisa dimiliki oleh buku-buku yang dihasilkan dengan mekanisme otomatis semacam itu, terka saya. Intinya, software itu tetap tidak bisa menggantikan peran para penulis buku fiksi dan non-fiksi.

Itu pula yang terpikir saat saya mengetahui dua media di Amerika Serikat mulai mengadopsi teknologi dalam proses penyusunan berita mereka dengan lebih inovatif. Los Angeles Times dan Associated Press dikabarkan telah menerapkan robo-journalism dalam proses produksi artikel berita mereka.

Sejak Maret 2014 media Los Angeles Times, yang menjadi pers lokal bagi kota Los Angeles yang dikenal sebagai kota yang kerap digoyang gempa bumi, menghadirkan inovasi berupa Quakebot, sebuah software karya Ken Schwencke yang selain bekerja sebagai jurnalis juga adalah seorang programmer andal. Konon hanya diperlukan waktu 3 menit untuk menyusun sebuah artikel berita gempa, yang relatif lengkap dan memenuhi syarat jurnalistik 5W (who, why, what, where, when) dan 1H (how).

Sementara itu, Associated Press sejak bulan Agustus 2014 telah menggunakan software penulis berita Wordsmith buatan startup Automated Insights yang bertugas merangkum berbagai laporan finansial korporasi. Dengan Wordsmith, tugas pewarta AP jauh lebih ringan. Bila dikerjakan manual, pastinya akan lebih memakan waktu dan energi. Dalam kasus AP, teknologi diperlukan untuk efisiensi kerja dan penyajian berita.

Bagaimana proses software Wordsmith mengolah berita hingga siap saji? Pertama, data mentah dijaring dari pelanggan, penyedia data pihak ketiga dan repositori publik seperti jejaring sosial. Banyak sekali format data yang bisa dijaring sehingga akurasi dan kelengkapannya relatif tinggi. Selanjutnya, dilakukan telaah data yang terkumpul dengan bantuan matriks canggih pendeteksi tren menarik dan menempatkannya dalam konteks sejarah. Kemudian data akan diidentifikasi dan dibandingkan dengan data lain yang sudah ada sebelumnya. Tahap berikutnya yaitu penyusunan struktur dan format laporan. Di sini, algoritma akan menyusun kalimat-kalimat untuk menghasilkan jenis format berita yang dikehendaki, misalnya narasi panjang, artikel pendek, visualisasi, tweet, berita dan sebagainya. Akhirnya, laporan tadi siap dipublikasikan secara real time via API, Twitter, email, laman web dan perangkat digital. Tugas editor hanya memberikan polesan akhir agar artikel tampak natural saat dibaca.

Kalau begitu mudah membuat berita sekarang, apakah para jurnalis tidak lagi dibutuhkan di masa datang? Editor pelaksana berita bisnis Associated Press Lou Ferrara tidak sepakat. Ia beropini bahwa robo-journalists ini justru memberikan banyak jurnalis manusia untuk melepaskan beban pemberitaaan yang simpel untuk lebih berfokus pada penyusunan berita-berita yang lebih mendalam. Argumen Ferrara menurut hemat saya memang cukup beralasan. Alih-alih membuat jurnalis kehilangan pekerjaan, inovasi robo-journalists justru harus dianggap sebagai pembebas dari rutinitas menulis berita yang membosankan dan itu-itu saja. Jurnalis tampaknya memang makin didesak untuk bisa berpikir dan menulis dengan sudut pandang yang khas dan pembahasan yang lebih analitis karena inilah yang tidak bisa dilakukan robot-robot itu!
Mengamini pernyataan Ferrara, Ken Schwencke dari LA Times juga menandaskan bahwa robo-journalists hanya melengkapi keberadaan human-journalists. Justru inovasi ini akan “membuat pekerjaan semua orang lebih menarik”, ujarnya.

CEO Automated Insights Robbie Allen juga memberikan pernyataan serupa, bahwa software buatannya bukan dirancang sebagai pengganti jurnalis manusia. Allen menambahkan kelebihan robo-journalists hanya ada pada ketepatan dan kecepatan pengolahan data. Sementara gaya bahasa, gaya penulisan dan sebagainya cuma bisa dihasilkan oleh human-journalists. Tugas robo-journalists jelas hanya menyajikan data agar lebih cepat dan layak baca. Titik.

Karena itu, jika Anda seorang pewarta yang setiap hari hanya bekerja untuk menyalin tempel artikel berita atau cuma menyadur tanpa membubuhkan kepribadian Anda di dalamnya, rasanya Anda harus siap-siap ditelan persaingan oleh robo-journalists ini.

Saya teringat dengan kata-kata jurnalis teknologi AS Kara Swisher, bahwa banyak jurnalis menyajikan berita dengan cara yang membosankan pembaca. Besar kemungkinan kemunculan robo-journalists akan memberangus jurnalis-jurnalis semacam ini, karena seberapapun cepat otak mereka bekerja dan jari jemari mereka mengetik, tetap saja tak akan bisa mengalahkan software-software seperti Wordsmith atau Quakebot. Maksudnya membosankan mungkin adalah penyajian yang mengikuti pola atau template tertentu, yang terus menerus berulang dan tak berubah. Alur cerita dalam berita juga relatif mudah ditebak. “Setelah itu, pasti membahas ini, ah basi,” begitu gumam pembaca. Tidak heran mereka juga bekerja seperti robot! Pastilah penyajiannya lebih kaku.

Dan satu poin yang menjadi perhatian bagi mereka yang mengaku jurnalis – bila mereka tak ingin tersingkir – adalah perhatian yang harusnya makin besar untuk membangun pemikiran sendiri dan tidak segan untuk menunjukkan kepribadiannya. Elemen kepribadian ini menjadi sorotan terutama jika Anda bekerja sebagai jurnalis online atau blogger. Tanpa kepribadian yang unik, karya-karya Anda akan kurang menarik minat pembaca. Bahkan jika kepribadian itu sangat sarkastis, atau emosional sekalipun, jangan ragu untuk menampilkannya dalam tulisan Anda. Karena kepribadian inilah yang sampai kiamat pun tidak akan bisa dimiliki oleh robo-journalists yang secanggih apapun. Contohnya, kata Swisher, adalah para jurnalis cum blogger teknologi di TechCrunch.com pasca keluarnya Michael Arrington, Sarah Lacy cs. Meski blogger-blogger TechCrunch itu kerap diremehkan dengan alasan memiliki bias atau sikap kurang objektif serta kurang piawai menggunakan prinsip jurnalisme dalam penulisan konten mereka, toh orang-orang itu sanggup menunjukkan kepribadian mereka yang menarik via jejaring sosial dan konten-konten yang mereka tampilkan. Tentu saja kata “menarik” di sini bersifat nisbi. Namun, yang patut digarisbawahi adalah bahwa kepribadian mereka menjadi salah satu faktor daya jual atau selling point yang turut mengungkit pamor konten berita yang disusun.

Jadi apakah masih ingin menjadi wartawan biasa-biasa saja? Itu terserah Anda. Namun alangkah baiknya bila mau berubah sebelum binasa.

Happy Birthday to This Blog!

IMG_3325.PNG

 

If I didn’t have this blog, I might have gone mad, psychologically troubled. It helps a lot when I need to shout but my mouth cannot say a word. It aids me to handle the influx of ideas, which would be otherwise a waste of intellect. These ideas would be wild, unorganized but the blog helps me organize them all when someday I need them again.

 

On Creating Viral Content (Hint:Quantity Sucks)

The web has become a place overflowing with crappy content. Crappy content? What is that in the first place? As a content writer, ‎I have seen too much crappy content published and consumed on the web. This is that particular content that sucks so badly. In my own experience, crappy content is something you can effortlessly copy and paste from another site onto your own without providing pleasure or value to the Internet users, having only one single goal in mind:SHORT-TERM PROFITS.

I tell you what, it will NOT work! And if you do it because you think you have no better options, I tell you:‎It sucks to be you. Because there are many better options of strategy to choose from.

I have seen a bunch of people doing this silly and senseless thing‎, pretty much every single day. And I am ashamed I used to be part of the ignorance sometimes. But as I realized more, I found out this was an insanity involving time and resources spending which produces little or meager, unsatisfactory results.

So let me tell you, I happen to know this bunch ‎of people who are so deeply obsessed with hits and Alexa ranks. They post content (in the form of articles from other sites) days and nights like hundreds of them. It is a toil. It is all about “how many” and “how fast”. It has never touched on the question of “how great”, which makes it miserable. No one wants to advertise on the site. But who wants? It is just another site with thousand articles with no distinct voice. By distinct, I can safely say it has a unique editorial voice, a mission to pursue, a stance to make, a proposition to defend or advocate, etc. They have none. They only have money to burn, with no creativity, no shrewd strategy and very low passion in their head. Plus, a leader who is too quantity-oriented and as stubborn as a swine.

PATHETIC!

Don’t be like these people. ‎Don’t let the same tragedy happen to you.

At first, we need to believe that publishing content on the web should be meant to provide quality content that addresses real problems of rea‎l people. Profits are side effects. Hits, Alexa rank and high ads revenue are some bonuses that follow after you provide quality content people need very much. It is all about changing mindset, from the idea that content is a pure tool of making profits to the more sincere and ideal proposition that content provides assistance for us to solve problems. Quite literally, stop think selfishly. Rather, start treating readers the way you want to be treated.

‎Creating content that goes viral would entail ‎a wide array of factors. The first is pick the right topic. Select the hottest, most talked about topics and you are more likely to succeed. The last time I wrote about politics during the presidential elections, ‎it was a blast as everyone was suddenly interested in political issues. Everyone wanted to read some content that enrich, verify or challenge their own political beliefs. Hence, as a content writer I naturally had the urge to share. To share things that I think useful, interesting and valuable enough for them to consume and then, of course, spread.

But aside from creating useful, great content, you need to make sure it also has to be authentic at the same time. Don’t let yourself be a follower. Create new and fresh content. The more authentic content is, the better it gets. Ensure the content is first published on your site. So you basically position yourself as a thought leader. That way, people will come to your site whenever they need the information. If you cannot make sure it is absolutely new, now you always can publish it but convey it in a unique way, and add some more values. Be different, that is the key! And that is as easy as becoming yourself.

The second is write long. If it is possible to write longer pieces, just do it. Even if it takes days! Don’t hesitate to be a perfectionist‎ when you are allowed. I met a guy who didn’t seem to mind waiting for days to polish his one long and comprehensive writeup on a topic. It is totally okay not to publish immediately sometimes. Take your time. It will not hurt if you pursue perfection anyway. And you know what? That is why his site only publishes one or two new articles once in 2-3 days. So slow I know it is. This guy’s site, however, ranks much better than the previously mentioned site that publishes hundreds of unauthentic, soul-less articles. I would never believe it if I had not seen it before my naked eyes.

The third is ignore quantity. You ought to prefer writing one great piece that impresses people and benefit them simultaneously to producing hundreds of pieces that makes you like a bot. Always remember, as quantity takes the reign, you will lose more of your time to be personal and profound on the web, i.e. to be yourself, because you only want to reach the targetted number no matter what it costs you. And I have to tell you, networking on social media is not about making other people’s newsfeed full with your updates and self promotional content. It is in fact more about building community around you and in a community, there should be interaction taking place on a daily basis. It does not mean paying attention to quantity is always a waste of resources but beware of the loss of the ability to enjoy what you do because contrary to popular belief, creating and marketing content successfully is a long-term work and meticulous type of toil. You have got to work hard every day, building everything bit by bit from the sractch and maintain it, then expand or improve what is already achieved. And if your main motivation is quick cash, you will NEVER manage to get through all this hardship.

Last of all, forget about SEO techniques. I seriously tell you. If you have important and unique messages to convey, even without SEO, people will always find your great content. Content that matters always attracts people to spread it further.

That said, I am convinced writing viral content shared by virtually everybody is easy. By easy, I mean it means natural, just like how you basically communicate by means of old media and tools. No special formula is required, to be blunt. Don’t be mean, selfish and you will get there.

IMG_2599.JPG

Writers’ Moral Responsibility

‎”The first job of a writer is to be HONEST.”- Irvine Welsh

I typed the word “honest” in capital letters as I cannot tell you how much I find this quote inspiring to me. ‎This quote at its best teaches us writers in general (whether they be bloggers, published authors, print journalists, online journalists, novelists, short story writers, or even mere Facebook updates’ creators) that nothing can substitute integrity and honesty.

But for some reason I cannot fathom why some writers plunge themselves into this kind of abyss named politics a little bit too far.‎ Take Indonesian moslem writer Jonru Ginting as an example. The self-proclaimed writer, entrepreneur, and internet marketer (as he himself stated on jonru.net). He is allegedly to be the culprit behind the photo showing Jokowi as a priest at a church giving sermons according to islamtoleran.com (another site with unknown track records). The photo was found to be photoshopped and thus fake. Jonru (@jonru) himself denied the accusation via Twitter and Facebook. But long before that, when Egypt crisis broke last year, he was reportedly releasing a hoax to change the perception of those who did not believe in the sincerety of Ikhwanul Muslimin movement (source: badaruzz on http://www.kaskus.co.id, 14/07/2014). He was said to have used a photo of a smiling corpse, with the intention of convincing readers that Ikhwanul Muslimin casualties were died heroes. But the photo was found to be sourced from the web. The photo was allegedly taken from Malaysia, where the woman was only mimicking and acting as a corpse during a simulation of taking care of dead body before the burial based on Islamic regulations.

I am not going too comprehensive about who is wrong or right in this politically sensitive case but it may also be due to the implications of his involvement as a cadre of Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS) , who openly criticizes and frequently attacks Jokowi on his Twitter account and Facebook fanpage (https://www.facebook.com/jonru.page).

And that being said, I am not either about to judge him for being a politically biased writer ‎because that is his own preference entirely. Yet, what I want to highlight is how perilous it may get when you involved in affairs such as politics as you may lose your integrity and neutrality as a writer. Because as far as I can see, those two things are the most invaluable and intangible assets for writers of all kinds. You can tell lies in fictional works as much as you want but never ever spread lies in your reports, non-fictional works since it may put your credibility at stake.

Because I believe there is NO fine line between liers and truth tellers in writing. Either you tell a complete lie that still makes sense of course in some way (i.e. fictional authors) or tell the “truth” ‎as far as you possibly can do (i.e. reporters). Certainly, subjectivity may intrude in between but can subjectivity or bias leads a writer to lies or even worse libels, or defamation? Have your say.

To Write More and Better, Get Disconnected. Totally.

Cerebral…

I once said to my friend that being a writer means one should get cerebral. That entails the endurance of sitting all day long (or standing if you have that standing desk), working alone, without being and feeling lonely because one is much too busy, engrossed with and accompanied by all the intellectual work.

When I write, everything else comes second. That brings the consequence that I ought to entirely disconnect myself from the outer world. It keeps the mind laser-focused. Think only one thing on your mind and do write about it without hesitation, without fear or anxiety that you have neglected other things and people around you. Don’t bother thinking about the chats you can’t reply right away, the texts your parents sent, the phone calls your employer or client did to reach you. All these things can wait. Once again, they can wait. If you say they must wait, they’ll wait. It’s just a mind game. Be the master instead of the slave.

That said, I always try to write offline. Like now, I am typing on my BlackBerry without the mobile network turned on. Or if I find a desk, I’ll sit and work on my laptop without getting connected to the wifi or internet connection so I won’t be disturbed anyhow.

Rayakan Hidup dengan Blogging! #hariblogger #berkatblog

Tanggal 27 Oktober diperingati sebagai hari ulang tahun saya dan hari blogger nasional.

image

Tahu kenapa ada tanda penghitung mundur di bawah blog saya ini? Itu menghitung mundur dua momen paling mengharukan dan bermakna dalam hidup saya yang terjadi bertepatan di tanggal 27 Oktober. (Drum rolls) Hari ulang tahun dan hari blogger nasional!!!

Saya mulanya mengira Tifatul Sembiring-lah yang menggagas hari blogger nasional tapi ternyata salah. Muh. Nuh, menteri pendidikan kita yang dulu menjabat sebagai menkominfo-lah, orang pertama dari jajaran birokrasi yang memproklamirkannya. Saat itu tanggal 27 Oktober 2007 sejumlah blogger tersohor seperti Wimar Witoelar, Nukman Luthfie (sudutpandang.com), Wicak (NdoroKakung.com), Ong Hock Chuan (theunspunblog.com), Enda Nasution sebagai pucuk pimpinan penyelenggaraan Pesta Blogger 2007. Mereka sepakat mengadakan Pesta Blogger yang pertama di tahun itu. Komunitas-komunitas blogger pun berkumpul setiap setahun sekali demi merayakan pesta tahunan ini.

Kalau mau dikatakan, pamor blogging konvensional dengan tulisan sudah jelas tergusur. Social media seperti Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Path, sudah merajalela sekarang. Mau bukti? Lihat saja Nukman Luthfie yang jelas-jelas lebih banyak berkicau di Twitter daripada menulis artikel blog terbaru, yang jika ada pun tidak sepanjang sebelumnya. Atau Enda Nasution yang lebih sering men-tweet dengan hashtag #oldpost. Kehabisan ide? Tampaknya mustahil karena blogging bisa menggunakan ide dari mana saja. Kehabisan semangat dan konsistensi? Betul sekali.
Keduanya bukan cuma segelintir blogger yang merasakan dampak destruktif social media pada budaya blogging. Banyak blogger ‘jelata’ yang mulai meredup semangatnya karena terlalu asyik masyuk di ranah jejaring sosial. Bagaimana tidak? Lebih cekak, lebih padat pesan, tidak perlu bertele-tele, instan dan praktis karena bisa dilakukan tak peduli tempat dan waktu. Bayangkan blogging yang harus lebih serius. Upaya intelektualnya lebih intensif, kemampuan verbal dan linguistik serta kognitif lebih terkuras, dan membutuhkan waktu yang lebih panjang.

Dan tak lama saya mengikuti Social Media Festival di FX Plaza, Jakarta. Gema jejaring sosial meluas. Dan blogging harus menepi dari gelombang tsunami social media.

Bukan hal yang terlalu mengherankan bahwa makin banyak ditemukan blogger yang mulai meninggalkan lapak digitalnya karena konsistensi dan komitmen yang lebih tinggi mutlak diperlukan dalam menjadi blogger.

Tetapi sejatinya blog masih dan akan selalu relevan dengan dunia. Ia tidak akan bisa ditinggalkan begitu saja karena sudah menjadi kebutuhan pokok berekspresi di dunia maya. Jika bisa diibaratkan, jejaring sosial adalah staf marketing yang berkeliaran di jalan dan tempat umum untuk mencari konsumen empuk; sementara itu blog menjadi toko permanen atau booth sewaan atau kedai tenda yang bisa digunakan staf itu untuk menjelaskan informasi lebih detil tentang barang jualan. Jadi jejaring sosial dan blog haruslah berjalan beriringan.

Dan mengenai manfaat penggunaan blog dan jejaring sosial yang harmonis dan saling melengkapi, saya punya kisah sendiri. Saya mendapatkan seorang murid yoga karena saya menulis blog. Jadi kebetulan saya pernah menulis ulasan sebuah kelas prana flow Mira Jamadi di Namaste Festival tahun lalu dan saya mempublikasikan ulasan itu di blog dan memberi tag di Facebook. Mira mengetahuinya dan ternyata ia adalah yogini yang cukup tech-savvy alias melek teknologi. Ia membaca ulasan saya dan berinteraksi dengan saya, berusaha meluruskan pemahaman saya tentang kalimat-kalimatnya yang saya salah artikan. Lalu ia membuat tautan di blognya yang mengarah ke blog saya itu. Ia menganggapnya sebagai suatu testimoni dari murid. Dan tak dinyana, beberapa waktu setelah itu seorang pria ekspat di Jakarta ingin berlatih yoga dan menemukan blog Mira. Ia mau menemukan guru yang bisa mengajar di Jakarta dan kebetulan ia menemukan blog saya dari tautan di blog Mira. Akhirnya ia menulis email ke saya dan minta kesediaan saya mengajar padahal saya bahkan belum menyelesaikan pelatihan guru yoga saya! Saya berkata apa adanya, bahwa saya bukan guru tetapi saya masih berlatih untuk itu, dan tampaknya ia tidak keberatan. Dan kami pun menjadi guru dan murid sejak beberapa pekan terakhir. Ajaib bukan? Karena saya sendiri belum ada niat atau ambisi untuk menjaring murid dengan gencar berkampanye di social media dan blog. Saya cuma mengunggah artikel saya dan foto latihan di blog, dan siapa tahu ada yang tertarik tidak cuma untuk berlatih bersama tetapi juga menjadi rekan, teman, dan sebagainya? Benar-benar tidak ada ekspektasi muluk-muluk. Sebelum ini, saya juga pernah ditawari mengajar oleh pemilik sebuah studio di Jakarta Utara, tetapi karena merasa tidak sanggup, saya tampik. Saya kurang suka mengajar di gym, pusat kebugaran, atau studio yang cenderung ramai dan melibatkan terlalu banyak orang. Untuk saat ini, sebagai pemula rasanya tepat untuk memulai mengajar sebagai guru privat dulu saja.

Hari ini juga ada Mandiri Jakarta Marathon 2013, satu dari sekian tren terkini yang menurut Ong Hock Chuan bisa jadi akan bernasib sama dengan tren blogging di dekade 2000-an. Ditinggalkan perlahan-lahan oleh massa yang cepat bosan.

Want Greater Readership for your Blog? Use Reddit Now

No no no. I am not paid by any parties here to endorse Reddit but as recent as yesterday this very blog enjoyed a considerable stream of traffic a.k.a. visitors or readers. And I just signed up on Reddit the other day. Not really bad huh?
Maybe you have known this but I am pretty much sure some just haven’t. So I just shared. Besides Reddit, you bloggers can use any of these to enhance your exposure: Twitter (no brainer)
Facebook (no brainer)
Pinterest
StumbleUpon
BuzzFeed
Delicious
Tweetmeme
Digg
Fark
Slashdot
Friendfeed
Clipmarks
Newsvine
Diigo
Dzone
Chime.in

And now, happy experimenting!

%d bloggers like this: