Category: Blogging

Dirty tricks will not make you Instagram famous

Dirty tricks will not make you Instagram famous

Let’s start by setting things straight here. Yes, I want to grow my following on Instagram as a way of furthering my career as a storyteller. And since you are reading this article chances are you have a similar purpose with being on Instagram.

Maybe it’s just to validate your ego, and that’s totally fine too. We all need validation. Let me know in the comments, by the way, if I am completely wrong here. As far as I am concerned, though, you and I both need to quit the bullshit if we want to get some real value out of being on Instagram.

I just recently joined Instagram and quickly saw a pattern in most people’s behavior there. People would follow me only to unfollow me shortly after. I also received a lot of comments on the photos I posted. Some people would like five or more of my photos, but for some reason none of those people wanted to follow me, even if they apparently liked my work so much. I was perplexed to say the least.

So I went to google to check out what this thing about follow/unfollow and mass liking photos was all about and got a whole lot smarter on the inner workings of Instagram. Don’t hate the player, hate the game, right?

Consider this for a second though. The net result of how people are using Instagram is millions of people spending valuable time they could spend doing or creating something worthwhile on this never-ending game of following and unfollowing each other. How silly is that?

My question for the interwebs is this: how many people do you think stop to consider whether the followers they get really matter in any significant way?

I want followers. But I want followers who gives a real damn about my art, and I couldn’t care less about everyone else. I also don’t want people to like my photos for just any reason whatsoever. I want people to only like my pictures if they genuinely think that what I am producing is worthwhile spending time looking at. My sole hope with displaying my art publicly is that it can brighten someone’s day or that it moves someone in one way or another. I view art as a way of making what is otherwise for many a grim world just a little brighter.

You’d think that Instagram, or I guess Facebook really, would care about all of this? It can’t possibly be good for business if your whole business model is based off of people who really don’t care about other users and only about themselves?

I don’t think they care at all. What Facebook and Instagram cares about is how much time people spend on their platform. Because the more time you spend on Instagram the more advertisement they can sell. As users we are the product.

Of course this is not the whole truth. I know there are many genuine people on Instagram, but I can’t help but feel that they are hard to find sometimes.

I didn’t want to write this article to bash all the following/unfollowing going on. I just wanted to address why I think it is a bad strategy and for the most part a waste of time to do so. Don't get me wrong. I think follow/unfollow will get you thousands of followers! It works! But wherein lies the real value of THOSE followers?

I think there are really only two ways to be successful while at the same time being happy and proud of what you have accomplished. And that is a) working hard on a core set of skills, and b) networking. “Network, network, network!” as Steve Balmer (formerly of Microsoft) used to say.

Working on building a core skillset

My goal is to be a good writer and photographer, maybe even earn some money from either or both eventually. I strongly believe that the best way to get there is to get out there the trenches and get mud on your hands. I.e. get busy with taking photos and learning about Photoshop and Lightroom.

Don’t get me wrong, I am upping the time I spend on social media management, but I believe that I should be spending at least 5 times the time I spend on Instagram etc. on working on my core skills. The bonus is the more I work on my skills the more great content i'll have to share on Instagram and elsewhere.

I think that if what you produce is of a consistently high value, and by that I mean much higher than most, followers will come without having to hesitate to these follow unfollow methods.

Network, network, network

I don’t think you’ll be successful from skill alone though. You have to get out there and sell yourself. I learned that the hard way through maybe 50 + tinder dates. In the beginning I was horrible at the whole first date thing; now I don’t have a problem with it at all and have had much more success because of my experience with promoting myself, so to speak.

But wait a minute, didn’t I just tell you not to promote yourself? No, I told you not to follow and unfollow people mindlessly. Yeah, they are also real people just like you and me.  Not just numbers to make your ratio right.

I think that if you want people to care about you, you have to show them that you care about them first. So while I will continue to build relationships on Instagram, I am dead certain I will have more success with actually going out in the real world and connecting with people face to face.

Next week I am going to go shoot a badminton tournament for free. This allows me to a) work on my skills, and b) connect with people. Maybe I’ll be lucky to take some great photos of a player, who will then recommend me to his or her friends and family. Maybe I won’t. It’s a chance to take, but I am sure that it’s a lot better strategy than to follow someone and the unfollow them again once they begin following me.

When you go out there and take an actual photo of someone you connect with them for life. When you follow someone and then unfollow them again you are showing them that you don’t care about them, only about how many followers you have.

Conclusion

So to conclude, I think that time spent on tactics to get more followers is wasted time you could have spent building your business by creating actual content that’ll give people a genuine reason not only to follow you, but to like and enjoy the stuff you post.

What do you think? Am I completely out in the woods here? Is there a grain of truth to what I am saying? Please let me know what you think in the comments section.

3 Effective Types of Blog Posts

3 Effective Types of Blog Posts

For a while now, I have been thinking about structuring my blog posts from a new set of predefined rules. The following three types of blog posts will in my opinion work great with my blog,  and – hopefully – with yours too.

  • The Seth Godin Post. Seth is the master of short form blogging, or micro-blogging. Many of his posts are only a couple of paragraphs long, and that can be a great thing when utilized correctly. He cuts out all of the bullshit and delivers only what he deems absolutely necessary. This is a great way of being more effective – in blogging, and in life in general. Find Seth Godin’s blog Seth’s Blog here.
  • The Leo Babauta Post. Leo Babauta is the master of bullet points, of lists, and of breaking up longer posts into more digestible bits. Many blog followers will only read text that is in bold or text that is broken up into small peaces. Leo knows this, and he has successfully built one of the largest worldwide followings based on this knowledge. Find Leo Babauta’s blog Zen Habits here.
  • The Minimalists Post. Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus mainly write what they consider to be somewhat long form essays. This approach works well for them because they are really good writers, and because they have a lot of personal things (to their own lives) to say. Out of the three types of blog posts, I think this type is the one that is the most useful to the reader because it’s not as much about the information as about the people, but I also think that it is very difficult to master. Find Joshua and Ryan’s blog The Minimalists here.

All three of these highly successful bloggers get along just fine by structuring their posts the same way over and over again. They understand that simplicity is key – even if their approaches are quite different from one another. I don’t think any of these styles are superior to the others. Just as there are many ways to reach spiritual enlightenment, there are many way to become a great blogger.

Was this post meaningful to you? If so, I always appreciate comments, likes and shares. Thanks! 

How I Find Free Photos for My Blog Posts

How I Find Free Photos for My Blog Posts

In blogging, every little detail matters. From site design to quality content. I am not an expert in either of these areas, and while I am not always good at practicing what I preach, I do know that it is VERY important to make sure that you don’t infringe on anyone’s copyright. It is all about credibility, and credibility comes from paying attention to details like these.

At the moment I don’t copyright anything on The Measured Life. I might switch to a creative commons license one day, but, at least for now, I believe that it is in my best interest to allow everyone to do what they want with the content I produce. (Let’s be real here: no one is going to “steal” my stuff anyways.) I won’t worry about copyrighting my own material as long my audience is as small as it is.

As my blog presumably grows, however, I will have to be more aware of copyright, both in relation to my own material, and to the material I “borrow” from elsewhere. And since this is a challenge all of us face, I thought it might be useful if I shared what little I know about finding uncopyrighted photos for your blog posts.

Now, writing “how to” posts is a new thing for me, as it has always been a huge challenge for me to structure more or less anything I write. So it will probably serve you better to look up the info elsewhere. Still, here is my personal take on finding royalty free quality photos for your blog posts:

Do an advanced Google search

There are many places on the web where you can find uncopyrighted photos. The more professional your blog is, the more should you probably consider using a payed service. Where I am at in my “career” as a blogger that is not at all necessary, though. Doing an advanced Google search does the trick most of the time. The process is quite simple:

  • I do a regular Google image search on whatever kind of photo I need.
  • I then click advanced search on the settings menu.
  • Next, I scroll down to usage rights at the bottom of the page and click free to use or share.
  • I then click the advanced search button below, and bingo, I’ve got a bunch of photos that I know I am allowed to use.

It couldn’t be simpler than that (It probably could, but I just do this every time I do an image search for the blog anyways). Of course, this approach is quite limited, and you are not going to find truly original content by doing an advanced Google search alone. But it is an easy step to take to at least make sure that you are not breaking anyone’s copyright.

Or search through Flickr commons

I haven’t used Flickr Commons much, but this is one of the options I am considering trying out, as I am taking blogging more and more seriously. At Flickr Commons you will find a lot of those great, original photos that you might not find through a regular Google search.

Also, this approach is a match made in heaven, if you ask me. As a newbie blogger I am interested in giving my blog a great visual appearance while the photographers over at Flickr Commons are interested in gaining public exposure. So by using Flickr Commons photos I am hitting two birds with one stone, helping out both myself and up-and-coming photographers in the process.

You can find Flick Commons here.

Other resources

I am still a novice at finding good, free photos, and will have to admit that I mostly still just do advanced Google searches. So while I haven’t tried out any of his photo suggestions yet, I can recommend Hongkiat as a great resource for design and technology tips in general:

30+ Websites For Stock Photos and Royalty Free Images

If you know of other places to find good, uncopyrighted photos, please post below in the comments section. I would love to check out your suggestions and learn more on this subject. Thanks!

Photo is “Copyrighted Rock” by photographer and Flickr user James Glover.Enhanced by Zemanta

Was this post meaningful to you? If so, I always appreciate comments, likes and shares. Thanks!

Why a Tablespoon of Honey Before Bedtime will Improve your Sleep

Why a Tablespoon of Honey Before Bedtime will Improve your Sleep

Taking the advice of Seth Roberts, who wrote a much more extensive post on the subject, I began taking a tablespoon of honey every day before bedtime, about two weeks ago.

At first, I was quite skeptical about the idea. My understanding was – and still is – that too much sugar (especially refined sugar) will cause havoc to your blood sugar levels, and that eating just before bed will upset your stomach, and thus have negative effects on the quality of your sleep.

This short article does a good job explaining why honey before bed might just be a very good idea. Basically, the human liver stores about 8 hours of glycogen (a form of energy storage)  necessary for proper brain function. If the last time you eat before bedtime is at six, your brain will release the steroid hormone cortisol at 2 am (8 hours later). If you are out of glycogen storage in your body, the cortisol will melt muscle tissue and convert it into glycogen. This process causes your heart to beat faster and will raise your blood sugar levels abruptly. Not a good recipe for a good nights sleep!

Since eating before bed causes the digestive machinery in the body to go hard at work, it will be a bad idea to get our glycogen from processed foods or any substantial amount of food at all. Based on the same reasoning as Seth Roberts applies (keeping blood sugar levels at optimal levels) Tim Ferriss recommends eating something rich on proteins and fat before bed. His suggestion is peanut butter, which might also be worth trying out.

The reason why honey works wonders is because it is half glucose, half fructose. Glucose enters the blood rather quickly while fructose takes a bit longer, therefore ensuring that your blood sugar levels will stay steady over the night period of 6-7 hours where you won’t consume anything else that can provide your brain with the energy it needs.

This advice made a real difference in my life so I hope you will try it out as well. And if you do, please get back to me with your experiences with honey before bedtime!

Note: It doesn’t have to be a table spoon. A tea spoon can be fine as well, depending on the individual. They key is always to experiment, to find out what suits you the most.

Main source: Seth Roberts blog

Other sources: 2007 study, 2010 study, 2012 study

If you found this post useful, please feel free to like, share or make a comment. Thanks!

Meditation, Focus, Music, Art

Meditation, Focus, Music, Art

Today I woke up experiencing the same feeling of desolate sadness that has pervaded me often in the mornings lately. First thing I did was picking up my mobile phone and checking Facebook, as I do often…too often. But something has changed this morning and I think it has to do with how meditation is changing the way I perceive and think.

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8 Reasons Why Good Typography Matters in Blogging

8 Reasons Why Good Typography Matters in Blogging

Until today I didn’t know much about typography. I knew that fonts are important, but I didn’t know what to do with that rudimentary knowledge. So I decided to get smarter. Read on below for a list of the 8 reasons why understanding typography is essential for the 21st century blogger.

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10 life-changing blogs you should know about

10 life-changing blogs you should know about

This post doesn’t need much of an introduction, really, but I’ve figured that it would be a good idea to practice building more “structured” articles from now on. So I am doing that.

Below you will find short descriptions of great blogs that have all played important parts in my personal self-development journey.

To this day I read all of them with great detail and I am truly thankful towards their authors for their continued  output of amazing, high-quality content!

So without further ado, lets get the show going with Zen habits, one of my all-time favorite blogs.

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