Menyoal Blogger Yoga di Indonesia

Peluang menulis sebuah blog mengenai yoga belum banyak dieksplorasi. (Sumber foto: Wikimedia Commons)

Menonton sebuah tayangan di televisi mengenai blogger bidang fashion yang mengklaim bisa mendapatkan pemasukan sampai Rp50 juta per bulan, saya hanya menganga. Benarkah? Atau itu cuma klaim sepihak saja dari pihak penayang acara yang bersangkutan agar menjadi headline yang menarik pemirsa yang ujungnya hanya untuk meningkatkan rating tayangan sehingga lebih banyak pemasang iklan tertarik?

Saya kemudian ingin tahu laman daring (online websites) dan blog-blog di luar sana yang ditulis dalam bahasa Indonesia dan membahas mengenai yoga serta yang tidak kalah pentingnya, mampu menghidupi si blogger pemiliknya.

Saya ketikkan sejumlah frase kunci dalam kotak mesin pencari di Internet seperti “blog yoga di Indonesia” dan “blog yoga Indonesia” dan menemukan sejumlah URL yang cocok dengan harapan.

Untuk frase pencarian “blog yoga di Indonesia”, saya temukan https://jaishrimataji.wordpress.com di baris teratas. Di dalamnya tertera keterangan “Sahaja Yoga dalam Bahasa Indonesia”. Blog itu cukup lengkap tetapi sayangnya cuma membahas aliran atau ajaran Sahaja Yoga, bukan yoga secara keseluruhan di tanah air.

Kemudian saya menemukan blog saya sendiri (akhlisblog.wordpress.com) yang sudah saya isi tulisan sejak tahun 2009 sebelum saya pindah ke domain akhlis.net. Di blog ini, saya menuangkan sejumlah tulisan bertema yoga di antara begitu banyak tema lain yang saya minati pula.

Selanjutnya, saya temukan URL blog milik sesama rekan guru yoga yang malah lebih berpengalaman dari saya: Astrid Amalia (astridamalia.blogspot.com). Astrid secara konsisten berkreasi di blog ini sejak 2003, jauh sebelum saya mulai menulis blog. Ia juga sudah menulis sebuah buku bertema yoga, “Tetap Sehat dengan Yoga”.

Untuk frase pencarian “blog yoga indonesia” di Bing, blog akhlisblog.wordpress.com saya malah menduduki peringkat pertama. Sementara di Google dengan frase pencarian yang sama, saya menemukan https://jaishrimataji.wordpress.com. Sayangnya, blog terakhir ini ditulis dalam bahasa Inggris, sehingga kurang sesuai dengan ekspektasi saya. Dan tampaknya tidak ada upaya monetisasi ini.

Lain lagi dengan sebuah blog baru yang bernama yoganesia.com yang baru-baru ini muncul. Saat saya menulis ini, hanya lima artikel yang ada dalam blog tersebut. Bahkan satu artikel pertama hanya berisi perkenalan. jadi bisa dikatakan cuma 4 artikel yang sebenarnya membahas mengenai yoga. Kekerapan (frekuensi) terbitnya artikel blog teranyar di sini juga kurang banyak. Sekarang bulan Februari mendekati penghujungnya, tetapi artikel terbaru di yoganesia.com masih bertanggal 16 Januari 2016. Apakah Adnan, demikian nama sang blogger, sudah kekeringan ide? Saya kurang tahu.

Saya kemudian berusaha menelisik ke situs-situs sekolah yoga di Indonesia. Kebanyakan tidak ada bagian artikel atau blognya. Namun, ada juga yang memuat blog di dalamnya. Salah satunya ialah YogaLeaf.com yang digagas oleh Pujiastuti Sindhu. Di sini, tampaknya geliat blogging relatif ada meski kekerapannya bisa dikatakan belum konsisten. Mulai muncul sejak 18 Maret 2010, artikel-artikel di situs ini hanya berjumlah 45 hingga saya mempubilkasikan tulisan ini. Artinya selama 5 tahun lebih kira-kira 9 tulisan saja yang dihasilkan selama setahun. Bayangkan jika bisa dipersering lagi frekuensi menulis itu. Pastinya akan ada lebih banyak orang yang berkunjung dan makin banyak pula orang yang berminat mempelajari yoga melalui situs dan sekolah yoga tersebut, sehingga pada gilirannya akan meningkatkan peluang bagi para peminat itu untuk mengikuti pelatihan guru yoga atau workshop atau acara apapun yang diadakan sekolah yoga tersebut. Sayangnya, kesadaran mengenai pentingnya membuat konten orisinal dan berkualitas semacam itu belum ada. Bahkan kalau sudah ada juga sumber daya untuk mengelola dan memperbarui konten di blog tersebut masih sangat terbatas. Itu karena menulis soal yoga tidak bisa dilakukan oleh sembarang orang, kecuali mereka yang benar-benar terjun di dalamnya dan banyak mengetahui seluk beluknya. Jika tidak, kedalaman ulasan dan opininya akan setengah-setengah dan meninggalkan kesan janggal di benak para pembaca.  Atau kalaupun bisa dalam dan panjang, tulisan itu kurang mencerminkan pemikiran dan sikap sang penulisnya secara apa adanya karena bisa saja diperoleh hanya dengan menyalin dan memodifikasi ala kadarnya di sana sini.

Masalah pertama dan utama mengapa blog tentang dunia yoga di Indonesia masih langka ialah karena masih sedikitnya para praktisi dan guru yoga yang bisa meluangkan waktu dan mau untuk menuliskan pengetahuan dan pengalaman mereka dalam bentuk tulisan baik secara cetak dalam bentuk buku atau secara digital dalam bentuk konten teks, foto atau video yang terkemas secara apik dan sistematis. Mereka memiliki banyak sekali ide, saya yakin, bahkan tidak kalah dari para pelaku yoga di luar negeri. Hanya saja kendala internalnya ialah rendahnya kemampuan dan kesadaran untuk mendokumentasikan semua itu secara serius dan profesional. Apalagi mengelola blog bukanlah sebuah perlombaan sprint, tetapi marathon. Sehingga sangat konyol jika kita hanya memperhitungkan tujuan jangka pendek seperti keuntungan finansial instan. Mengelola blog dalam tema apapun — tidak hanya yoga — jika dilakukan dengan terlalu ambisius dalam perkara  mengejar keuntungan material hanya akan membuahkan kekecewaan. Itu sebuah keniscayaan.

Saya pun bertanya perihal peluang menjadikan blog yoga sebagai sebuah sumber penghidupan. Seorang blogger profesional urun pendapat. Menurutnya, hampir semua orang ingin tahu mengenai kesehatan dan kebugaran. “Dokter bahkan memberikan tarif tinggi untuk saran medisnya namun jika mereka mendapatkan nasihat serupa di Internet secara cuma-cuma, bisa dibayangkan betapa banyaknya kunjungan (traffic) yang bisa dihasilkan dari konten itu. Sebagian besar blog kesehatan memberikan tutorial mandiri yang gratis dan bisa diakses siapa saja,” terangnya. Ia menambahkan bahwa dari segi pemasukan AdSense (iklan Google), bidang kesehatan menduduki peringkat ketiga setelah iklan asuransi dan jasa pengacara. Bisa dikatakan, menulis blog yoga juga tidak kalah menguntungkan jika kita mau memaksimalkan upaya monetisasinya. Katanya lagi, yoga termasuk dalam tema besar olahraga dan latihan yang bisa meningkatkan kesehatan manusia sehingga akan terus diminati sepanjang waktu.

Alasan lainnya ialah popularitas yoga yang makin tinggi dalam bidang terapi kesehatan dan kebugaran fisik. Tak heran, makin banyak orang yang ingin mempelajari yoga, cara melakukannya dengan benar, manfaat-manfaat kesehatannya. Meskipun tentu saja saat ini sudah ada banyak literatur yoga di Internet, tetap saja masih ada celah untuk menyuguhkan materi yang mungkin sama dengan cara pandang yang lebih unik dan personal.

Blogging with Meaning (My Reflection of a 6-Year Period of Blogging)

Six years of blogging and here I am.
Six years of blogging and here I am.

In Indonesia, today is National Blogging Day. I had no idea why it should be October 27th but years ago the Indonesia Minister of Communications and Informatics Muhammad Nuh initiated the celebration on the day. On that specified date, a bunch of bloggers would get together and do whatever they wanted to do, such as discussing the advancement of the Internet, the web freedom, the still-pricey-yet-slow Internet connection of the country. And what made me remember most is that the bloggers day is also a special day to me, personally speaking. More on that later.

Till this very day, I have so many reasons why I did, do and will always love blogging no matter what. It — the sharing spirit — runs through my veins. There is some tingling sensation when you’ve been idle on the blogosphere for a while and you feel so hollow inside because to be useful, you have to share whay you’ve got.
Having retreated from the corporate world for almost a month, I now come back to where I started: blogging. Years ago, months before I landed my corporate job, I was blogging like I had nothing else to do in my life. Every day I sat and type, and read other people’s blogs, learning a lot from them and at the same time, trying to adopt what is applicable to my amateurish blog and what seemed impossible so I could save the strategies and apply them later on when things were more ready.
And here I am now; I have my own self-hosted WordPress blog, something I’d always longed for. I feel professional and free (as I have more freedom to or not to set up an ad space here).
Unlike blogging for a company, now I’m blogging without any constraint of themes. I can roam, explore, and experiment with whatever themes I wish. Yet, mostly I’m atrracted to writing and yoga, two of my main interests currently.
Blogging is fascinating. It’s indeed part of my personal branding campaign but that doesn’t necessarily mean I do it for money or personal benefits. Not always. It’s not my one and only main motive of blogging after all.
It is true that blogging helps me get some clients. I had an offer of yoga private classes after someone visited my blog and sent me an email saying he needed me to teach him yoga on weekly basis. I had no idea before that blogging can enable me and other people to ease our problem of getting clients and getting services needed.
That’s not all. I have a yoga student who also found me offline and then stumbled upon me on the web. I have a fanpage for my blog and this person happened to like my posts. Hence, from that moment on, she has been stalking me, my thoughts, my yoga practice (I uploaded my asana photos a little bit too frequently back then, but now I give more thought before publishing anything on my wall or timeline). It sounds like a trade-off for the privacy but if you manage to set up boundaries on what to post or to refrain yourself from posting, you’ll know the online world is not that unsafe.
I don’t say blogging is all about sweet memories and great, inspiring experiences that makes you elated day by day. I’m no lover of sugarcoating truths. Some days were so lame and mundane and soul-crushing. And of course, I hate being an ordinary blogger, who copies and pastes online stuff and enjoys some extra money for himself, or paraphrases others’ thoughts and gets away just like that without thinking too much about responsibilities for spreading unique and honest yet ethical information.
I too did make some mistakes on the journey of blogging. Once I published too private information which some others deemed too risky to share on the web. And things went awry when my stuff got republished without my permission and knowledge. So some people hunted me, criticizing I must have taken down the very information off my blog and even deleted it. But little did they know, I almost immediately (several hours after having hit the publish button) deleted the information on my blog after giving a little further thought. What I aimed at was how I could be of help to this certain person who I guessed needed assistance. It was too late for me to realize that people may have different interpretation of your supposedly good deeds. There’s likelihood that they construe your deed in a very different way, using different perspectives that never entered your mind before you hit that publish button.

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!

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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.

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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 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.