Every time I reread my blog posts, the same thought comes to my mind – “man, I buried the lead again”.
I learned about leads from “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Chip and Dan Heath. It is a short book, but one that influenced me deeply. Every blogger out there should read it.
“Burying a lead“, in the jargon of journalists means boring the reader before getting to the juicy part. A “lead” or “lede” is the first sentence of the story.
In the book, there’s an anecdote about a journalism teacher giving his students an assignment:
” … They would write the lead of a newspaper story. The teacher reeled off the facts: “Kenneth L. Peters, the principal of Beverly Hills High School, announced today that the entire school faculty will travel to Sacramento next Thursday for a colloquium in new teaching methods. Amnong the speakers will be anthropologist Margaret Mead, college president Dr. Robert Maynard Hutchins, and California governor Edmund ‘Pat’ Brown. ”
Apparently, most students produced a lead that lumped all these facts into a single sentence. The teacher read all the submissions and then announced:
“The lead to the story is ‘There will be no school next Thursday’ ”
I am having a huge problem with writing in “inverted pyramid” style. The juicy parts of my posts are usually at the bottom.
Think about it, most blog readers, especially the ones that matter suffer from add, and often do not get to the bottom of the article. This means they won’t link to it, won’t digg it.
I am trying to improve, but writing is a difficult art to master. I just wish I took more writing classes.
For years now I’ve been writing down ideas on post-it notes, index cards, napkins and other various pieces of dead trees and storing them in a special folder. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been organizing my notes into an absolutely gorgeous Circa 3×5 note taking system that I splurged on at Levenger. This little note seems to be from 2002-2003 judging by my handwriting style. It was definitely before Digg and Stumbleupon:
As you might have noticed, for all my ranting about redesigns, I went ahead and redesigned my own site. It took me all of 3 hours. I changed the template a bit, fixed a nasty WordPress search bug that inserted unsightly escape characters into search strings, changed all the urls for more search engine friendly ones (while preserving all the original ones) and made navigation arrows a bit more consistent. Fascinating stuff, isn’t it? This is all a part of my effort to finally get over the thousand reader mark on the Feedburner counter. It stands at 915 today (and I used that counter graphic as one of my Optimus Mini’s applets).
I get a lot of Google and Google images traffic, as my humble blog is the second search result for “starbucks logo”. After reading my article about the Starbucks Melusine, most visitors just scamper away. I realized that I need some kind of a hook at the end of the page. I added the easy subscribe buttons, links to del.icio.us , Digg, Reddit and Netscape and a sampling of what I think are some of my better posts.
What I think are my better posts are, probably is not what you, the readers, think. So, if I may be so bold, please tell me what posts do you think should make “Best of Deadprogrammer” list, as well, as which particular post made you subscribe to my rss feed (or to bookmark my site). Also, in an effort to overcome the 1K reader barrier, I will even stoop so low, as to ask all of you for a link, if you can spare one. The thousand reader barrier must be broken.
Speaking of statistics, here’s a comparison of Feedburner’s breakdown. Since 2005 I went from 47 readers to 915. I am surprised to see a decrease in Livejournal readers since I quit it. Well, what can you do. I think I should give up my blog and move to Myspace. That’s where all the cool kids are and where most of my image traffic is coming from, even after I played a bit of a trick on them.
I am not suffering from writer’s block. Oh no. I have many, many, many things I want to write about. There’s a couple of dozen back-burnered posts in my Writely account, many with photos already uploaded. It’s just that I’ve been busy…
I was chatting with Joe Grossberg recently, an he said that my excuses are so Web 1.0. What do I have to say to that?
In other news: the steady supply of links, which it seems to mostly be an aftershock of the BoingBoing link to my Starbucks Mermaid post, has lifted deadprogrammer.com pagerank to 6. I wonder if all of my hotlinked and uncredited images going to myspace.com count towards pagerank.
I’d like to thank you all for your past and future links, as well as submissions to digg, BoingBoing and other fine MLP sites.
I am probably going to disclose my secret (well, not so _particularly_ secret) identity on “about me” page. I am still hesitant, but I’ll probably do it anyway.
Also, my posting frequency will go up. I’ll try for at least 4 posts a week, maybe as many as 7. I’m workin’ on it.