Tag Archives: Glyn Mottershead

The Fifth Judge: a successful blog?

The Aim

The purpose of my niche blog was to look at the contestants on the reality television show The X factor, in a light-hearted, tongue in cheek way. I wanted to present an unbiased judges opinion on the performances, as I felt that in recent years the judges on The X Factor had become increasingly more tactical with their comments. I also wanted to create discussion with other X factor enthusiasts, by posting bold, honest blog posts and communicating with them through the blog comments.

I aimed to do this by posting three to four times a week with two main posts after the two live weekend shows. I wanted to create discussion on my blog by becoming a regular visitor on other X Factor blogs and encouraging readers of those sites to visit my own.

The Reality

I posted on average four times a week. The first post revealed the song choice rumours for the upcoming live show, the next post revealed the official song choices for the live show, the third post reviewed the live show with links to all performances and gave an elimination prediction and the fourth post confirmed who had been eliminated.

I quickly realised that the key to my blog being successful was timing. Viewers of the show wanted to read about it and discuss it as soon as possible and as a result I had to get my posts up quickly. This was particularly true of the weekly post that showed the official song choice. The official song choices were revealed at 5pm on a Saturday, so I aimed to get my post up by half past to try and be one of the first sources on the internet with this new information. As a result the purpose of my blog did change slightly, although I was still presenting an opinion on the show and creating discussion with other enthusiasts, I was also trying to be one of the first sources of new information for X Factor fans.

My main post was my review after the live show; it gave a small round up of the evening, a short review on each performance, elimination predictions and also a “Dermot joke of the week” which was very popular with my readers. These pieces were often fairly long for a blog post (between 1000-1500 words) and although they contained links to the performances there were no other visuals on the post, which could lead to them being a bit intimidating to read. However I tried to break them up with bullet points and titles so that they were easier to dip in and out of.

Tellymix – The big hitter

These posts were the most popular of my four weekly posts and I continued to comment on other X Factor blogs. One blog, tellymix spotted my weekly review on the comments and offered me payment if they could post it on their site. I agreed and I also linked from tellymix to my blog. As a result of this I received considerably more hits. After my first post on tellymix I received 148 views in one day. In my 2010 automated wordpress review it read that, “A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2010. That’s about 4 full 747s.” I believe that a lot of this traffic was driven by my guest blogs on the popular and highly search engine friendly tellymix.co.uk

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow. (WordPress diagram from 2010 review)

Social Media

My social media strategy was to link to my blog through Twitter and Facebook and become a visible presence on X Factor forums. In practice I linked to every blog post on my Twitter feed and tagged it #XFactor. This brought new people to the site, particularly those looking for song choice rumours and official song choices. I also created a page on Facebook and posted a link to every new blog post; this was very successful and it brought in more readers and comments. Unfortunately I was not as visible on X Factor forums as I would’ve liked to be, and if I were to create this blog again this is certainly something I would like to build up.

Changes

The other changes I would make to my blog would be to have more images and visual excitement. I wanted to find lookalikes to feature on my blog, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to find any and with legal problems surrounding the use of X Factor images my blog posts looked a little dull. I would’ve also liked to have had more interviews with experts and possibly celebrities to get their opinions on The X Factor. I was lucky enough to talk to one X Factor auditionee after the show had finished and I felt this added more depth to the blog and I would’ve liked more of these. I thought polls would work really well on this blog as the whole show revolves around voting, however when I did try a poll there were very few responses and it didn’t work. I could’ve experimented more with different types of polls and tried to get more feedback on the shows in this way.

Success?

Overall I feel that my niche blog was a success and tapped into something that people were very eager to read and discuss. There are changes that I would’ve made to the execution, but the bullet points and short opinion paragraphs seemed to work well.

Top 3 posts

Blogging: it’s journalism Jim but not as we know it – A blog post after a talk with Adam Tinworth on the importance of blogging for journalists.

X Factor Live Show Week 8 – This was my longest blog post and it shows the layout of my reviews of the live shows. It also contains links to all the videos of the performances.

Official song choices for X Factor week 8! – The popularity of these indicated that people were beginning to rely on my blog for the X Factor news.

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Hyperlocal blogging: News Where You Are

Not necessarily the most interesting type of news it is true. Sometimes you don’t need to hear about the neighbourhood kids vandalising some trees, or the little old lady who is missing her cat. But beat blogging has brought local news back in vogue.

Glyn Mottershead outlined two strong examples based around South Wales. The first is the South Wales Argus from Newport. The most popular story in the last year was not to do with sport, or redevelopment or even the New York/Newport parody song.

It was regarding the information about school closures during the period of heavy snow. It was acting a local service to Newport people to inform them about important news in their area. It was there for them when they needed a community centre and they needed it instantaneously.

The second is the Guardian’s local Cardiff blog, run by Hannah Waldram. The blog displays news, details of upcoming council meetings, the opportunity to contact your councillors and the ability to report any problems.

These are the details that people really want to know and discuss with other local people. In a time when many complain that our sense of community is dissolving due to a growing global network online, these local news blogs are proving exactly the opposite.

Data Analysis: the heart of a good story

In a talk from Glyn Mottershead this week we learnt about data analysis. I thought doing a journalism course I would have safely got away from the nightmare of GCSE mathematics and analysis of journal sales from my previous job, but unfortunately no, it seems data analysis will follow me wherever I go.

It is not all bad though, turns out that in between nursing wounded soldiers Florence Nightingale was doing some pretty impressive data analysis, recording the soldiers causes of death.

Nightingale knew that data analysis was an excellent resource for looking at the bigger picture.

And that is exactly what data analysis allows us to do as journalists.

A more recent example of data analysis  is the MP’s expenses scandal. Hundreds of people were slaving away over data to find the gems of expenses claims such as duck houses and moats. A fantastic story that caused wave upon wave of uproar and controversy, that wouldn’t have materialised without data analysis.

Search Engine Optimisation: What the Lady Gaga Megan Fox Edward Cullen is that all about then?

In a lecture by Glyn Mottershead last week he examined search engine optimisation, or SEO as it is more commonly known and the process of encouraging web browsers to your blog or website.

Studies have shown that really the only links that matter on a search engine site are the first five links, or certainly only the first page. Users rarely sit and click through the pages and if your site doesn’t rank highly than it becomes like the proverbial tree falling in the forest; if there is no one there to read it, does it even exist?

A key message from the lecture was to use practical keywords in your title and introduction as this will ensure that people looking for the information contained in your article will be able to find and read it. Puns and a clever plays on word will not work as every bit of the title needs to be relevant and therefore searchable.

These facts have led to some unscrupulous methods by online users. Dropping in some of the most-searched-for words in titles, stand firsts and HTML boxes has become commonplace. This is undoubtedly effective at driving web views and online revenue, but incredibly annoying for the reader who has to wade through irrelevant material.

This is one of the processes known as “black-hatting” and is something that is being carefully monitored by the search engines with the hope of blacklisting anyone taking advantage. However with the unlimited amount of information being churned out daily on the web it is a difficult process to monitor and unfortunately looks likely to continue.