Rogue Ink

July 1, 2008

5 Smart Things to Do When You’re Going to Abandon Your Blog for a Time

Filed under: Blogging — Tei @ 4:20 am

In advance, I realize I have done none of these things. However, as the wise man said, sometimes we only know what we should have done in retrospect. Of course, the other wise man said, Try not. Do or do not. There is no try. And I think we can all agree that wise men who are puppets beat out wise men who are men any day. Therefore, here’s all the stuff I should have done before taking a leave of absence from the pub.

1. Tell people.

This is smart in most situations. Not, obviously, if you intend to rip off a bank. Or throw a surprise party. Or fart in a crowded elevator. Or if you see Sally Bowles’ mother on the street directly after seeing Sally herself in one of the most dazzling burlesque reviews in the German World War II circuit. In those situations, as Ms. Bowles tells us, mum’s the word. However, if you are about to disappear off the face of the earth and you don’t want to stand your bloggers up, you should probably let them know about it.

Did the rogue do this? No.

2. Plan posts for the nonce.

Nonce is an amazing word, and we should use it more often. For one thing, it rhymes with ‘sconce,’ another delightful word and surprisingly lovely decoration not often encouraged by today’s overhead-light loving set. For another, ‘nonce’ indicates ‘for the duration’ in a much more pleasing, romantic way. If I had planned posts, ‘for the nonce’ would have described my absence beautifully. For the nonce, please enjoy these delightful posts I have prepared with my own two delicate hands for you, I might have said. And you would have swooned both at the lusciousness of my prose and the exquisite construction of my posts, and not noticed my absence in the comments at all.

What actually happened was more like ‘while you fucking left us’. As in, ‘while you fucking left us, there was nothing to read and we contemplated drinking all your booze and peeing in the corners of the pub.’ You don’t say stuff like that with ‘for the nonce.’ Try it. ‘For the nonce, please enjoy trashing my pub.’ It doesn’t work.

Did the rogue plan for the nonce? No, she fucking left you.

3. Ask someone to blogsit.

This is a cooler way, I think, of saying ‘guest post’. It’s more or less the same theory as house-sitting. You get to come in, make use of my space in whatever way so pleases you, and as long as you don’t annoy my neighbors or burn the place down, I’ll thank you for keeping an eye on things and making sure Brett keeps his kilt right where it’s supposed to be.

Guest posts also neatly eliminate the necessity for number two, if you are so inclined. You can even still use ‘nonce’. Try it. ‘For the nonce, please enjoy the verbal stylings of my friend King Writacular.’ Works a treat.

Did the rogue ask someone to blogsit? No, because the rogue does not ask nicely. After the rogue was done asking, her intended guest-poster was weeping in a puddle of jam and eggnog. Don’t ask. You don’t want to know.

4. Plan something really cool for your comeback.

If Cher went on tour again (and oh, you know she will) and she didn’t bust out the most ridiculous outfits you had yet laid your eyes on, would you not be horribly disappointed in Cher? Would you not demand something with absurd amounts of fringe and a hat to make the good women who attend horse races cringe? So would I. Similarly, your return to the blogging stage ought to come with sparkles and spangles and other sp- beginning words. Spaghetti comes to mind. Your reappearance should be dripping in spaghetti. The oft-cited Incident of Calvin & Hobbes would not have been the glory that it was without the spaghetti, nor would it have required capitals.

The Spaghetti Return. That’s what your blog comeback should be. Or spork. Ooh, sporks. Spinach? No. Definitely not spinach. I hereby forbid everyone from returning to blogging with the word ‘spinach’ in their post.

Did the rogue use the word ‘spinach’ in her comeback post? She did.

5. Become Cap’n On It.

I have a devil duck whose name is Cap’n Onit. This is neither here nor there, but I feel you should know that the name has been put to good use. Once he conquered Florence (true story). At any rate, the name Cap’n Onit arose because, as the name implies, he always was.

On it. He was always on it. Keep up, people.

Which is what you should be when you return to blogland. Every day a new post, every day new glories. Which is the single only item on this list to which I shall be adhering. Since it is also the last item on this list, I shall feel I have done well. I am Cap’n Onit, people. New blog posts all the week, including tomorrow an entry into the War on English, because we all know the bloodshed between the grammarians and the text-messagers is what pays the electric bill around here.

Is the rogue on it? She SO is.

One extra special bonus DON’T for leaving your blog.

DON’T come back to blogging, post one tantalizing promise-I’m-back post, and then disappear for another week.

Did the rogue – shut up. I don’t want to play this game anymore.

Subscribe. I’m back.

June 11, 2008

Mourning Grovers.

Filed under: Blogging — Tei @ 4:54 pm

I’m sure everyone’s wondering what the hell happened to me this morning. Me too. I am wondering. You see, when I first moved into my new house, I was delighted to find there was wireless all around me. One in particular was very strong. It was called Grovers. I loved Grovers. My desk corner lived and basked in the glow of Grovers’ free wireless. And it was good.

About a month later, someone got greedy. Some other dude started to download tons of stuff off Grovers. He was the kind of guy Napster worried about, and Grovers slowed to a crawl. I was sad. The owner of Grovers was sad. And he put a lock on it.

Now, I respect that. If you are freelining off someone else’s wireless, it is common courtesy to not use it for crazy downloads. For one thing, then the owner catches on right quick. I kind of want to catch downloading dude and give him some rogue lessons, because even I knew what he was up to, and I suck at technology. Every time Grovers’ owner and I would be happily checking our email on the speedy Grovers wireless and suddenly, without warning, everything started to freeze up, we knew he was there. Not subtle. Bad form.

So Grovers’ owner putting a lock on his wireless was the only smart thing for him to do. The sad thing was, this left me without wireless. Which is when I discovered something about my new house.

No wireless box.

I couldn’t get the wireless. There may be a box hidden somewhere, but it might be up in the boarded up haunted attic. It might be in my neighbor’s side of the house, since I’m in one half a duplex. Figures. I get the giant ugly water heater, he gets the wireless box. ‘Course, I got the claw-footed bathtub, and I think really nothing trumps the claw-footed bathtub. Unless it’s a butler like Jeeves, but that’s a dream I fear I shall never realize.

Oh, Jeeves. Why do you not appear every morning with a cup of the revitalizing liquid to soothe my pain? You would fix the wireless, Jeeves, I know you would.

Here’s the problem with a Rogue with no wireless: I’m a horrible insomniac. I do some of my best work between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. Guess when the internet cafes close down? No, really. Guess. I want you to.

So I have to solve the wireless problem. Five hours of lost potential work time isn’t acceptable, and (just to bring it back around to you people) it often means that I can’t put up a new blog post on time. Last night, I spent two hours trying to get the measly linksys signal I can sometimes tap into to work. No dice. Either I’ll have to get dial-up or I’ll have to go bang on my neighbor’s door and see if we can’t share his wireless box, and he might be one of those guys who isn’t inclined to share. Though he’s kind enough to share his secondhand pot smoke with me on a regular basis through the wall, so maybe I’ll get lucky.

Anyway. That’s what happened to the blog posting. I’ll write it earlier today and get it up before the cafe shuts down.

June 10, 2008

Twitter. The Honeymoon is Over.

Filed under: Blogging — Tei @ 7:56 am

After the ridiculous lovefest that was yesterday’s post, I feel I owe everyone a round of snark. So we set forth into the anticlimactic linkfest that was Twitter.

Everyone was talking about the Twitter. I read the Wired article and made a noise that sounded very much like “Pleh.” I read the New York Times article and felt justified in my snobbery (bless you, NY Times, for indulging my superiority complex). And then I got to blogging, and it all went to hell in a handbasket. James and Harry were talking about giving in to the Twitter. Naomi was talking about how NOT to use Twitter, and when Naomi lays down a gauntlet like that, you are honor-bound to pick it up and smite her briskly across the face with it. In the most loving way possible.

The point is, while I may not be a sucker for the printed media, I am evidently easily persuaded by the digital bloggery. Twitter became that guy in your class who you hadn’t thought was cute until you realized everyone else had a crush on him. I caved. To Twitter I went.

In the Beginning

All was sweetness and light. Twitter said delightfully funny things, it introduced me to all the people it knew. We talked for ages, in little 140-letter vignettes. The Twitter cared about my business and helped promote my blog – so sweet. The Twitter wrote me haikus. It is possible this is because the Twitter was incapable of sonnets, but I was not to be troubled by such trifles. I was enamored. I braided daisies into crowns and sang love songs, people. The Twitter was so good to me.

Then There Was Turmoil

Twitter stopped communicating with me. Someone would send me a message and three minutes later I’d get it. I would find myself with only part of a haiku that I was sure had a preceding part, but I couldn’t find it, and Twitter couldn’t find it, and the Tweet ‘and then fell off a snow bank’ really needs an introduction. I realized very suddenly that Twitter possibly had a drug problem, or was off its medication. I would have been concerned, but the other problem was that I was getting tired of the Twitter. Its conversation had ceased to sparkle. It was repeating stories it had told on our first date. It was boring me to tears.

Then There Was Smiting.

Twitter started to boot me randomly out of the house. Other people too. The Tweet galaxy was all full of people calling into the blackness. “Hello! Are you there? I’m not there. I’m here.” We began to sound like bad Emily Dickenson imitators. “I’m Tweeting – in the Twhirl. Are you – Tweeting here – like me? Are we both – fucked – and speaking – to no one? – Stupid Twitter. I – want bacon.” Then Twitter got all passive-aggressive decided it couldn’t handle my shenanigans and wiped all my old Tweets, which was really just uncalled for. It started to play games with my head, and then I would yell, and it would go off and sulk and not talk to me for days, and we continued in this destructive cycle, neither of us willing to admit that we were just not meant to be. No we were not.

Then There Was the Flood.

I dumped the Twitter. We had a lovely little affair, but it was just one of those things. Just one of those nights. Just one of those magic flights. And now I’ve begun to quote Cole Porter, which just goes to show how damaging this relationship was. It hurts a little still. Inside.

I may sometimes go back to the Twitter, but it will only be to use it shamelessly for blog promotion. Yes, it’s cruel to do to an old flame, especially when you know it secretly still wants you, and you know perfectly well it can’t have you back. That is just the way it is, though.

On another note: Heading over to the Twitter randomly for the first time in about a week, I discovered that James does not, apparently, love me every day. Why, James? How can this be so? What day was ever a wrong one with me?

That’s the other thing about Twitter. It’ll rat you out. Is it any wonder I dumped it?

Subscribe. Lambasting to be continued.

May 22, 2008

Hi, My Name is Tei, and I’m a Widget Addict

Filed under: Blogging — Tei @ 4:03 am
Tags: , , ,

Actually, neither of those things is true. My name is actually Taylor Catherine Lindstrom, and I am to understand that ‘widget’ actually refers technically to those applications you use on a website. However, it is easier both to refer to me and the problem I am about to describe by our simpler pseudonyms (ooh, alliterations that doesn’t LOOK like alliteration! I love it!) and so, damn it all, that is what I am about to do.

Feedburner. Why is it a mathematician?

I have discovered my Feedburner likes number sequences. The first time I looked at my subscribers, I had seven. Then I forgot Feedburner existed until some other blogger mentioned that their subscribers had hit twelve kajillion, and I checked it, and it said fourteen. Then I forgot again, and someone mentioned it again (does anyone sense a pattern here? No, besides the number pattern, don’t be a twit), and then I had twenty-eight subscribers.

My plan is to take an amnesiac pill every time I check my blog stats, rinse and repeat. I figure I’ll erase about half my memories and motor skills in the process, but my subscribers will equal the number of people with internet access the galaxy over. Worthwhile trade-off, no?

Incidentally, I’ve noticed that other bloggers like to casually mention the number of subscribers they have, like they were keeping track of their golf handicap. “I got three thousand today, not bad for a Saturday. What say we go get a martini and mock the poor sap in the golf cart?”

Blog stats. Why do they think they are an Etch-a-Sketch?

I think my blog stats no longer reflect the actual number of visits to my blog. I think that some goblin uses my blog stats for a toy and is painstakingly attempting to reconstruct the skyline of the mountain ranges on the West Coast. To which I say to him, that’s all well and good, but I happen to think the journalism terms post was damned funny, and you’re cramping my mojo by telling me that only 200 people came around to take a look at it.

Goblin: “Ooh, looks like today we’re drawing Hell’s Canyon.”

Me: “I hate you, you slob-nosed green menace to tiny child-princesses and elves.”

Twitter. Why does it always know when I’m at lunch?

I like the Twitter, I do. I don’t quite get the way that some people find me, because I personally don’t sit around just waiting for someone to say something witty so I can follow them. This is partially because I find the random most intriguing, and I know this does not necessarily bode well for the long-term. Some guy could have been reading his grocery list piece by piece, but if all I get in the Tweet that I see is “Medium-large cabbages, the purple kind” – I’m intrigued.

But I do follow some very interesting and funny people, and they all seem to have delightfully witty and intriguing conversations. When I’m asleep. Or eating macaroni and cheese. Or finally turning off all social media to get some work done, for the love of all that is sacred and righteous in the world, by which I mean ‘chocolate’. I come back. Delightful commentary is still on the screen. And now I want to play, but it happened two hours ago and now everyone is gone, and I’m all alone, reading the Tweets over and over again, the way you listened to that message your teenage boyfriend left you when you were thirteen. It was so sweet. Maybe he’ll come back. Maybe. If I just stay by the phone long enough. But no. The moment you go to bed, you know what will happen, and so do I.

James and Harrison are going to debate which of them has better biceps, and I am going to miss it, and I will never be able to throw in the surprise write-in vote for Naomi, and she will be pissed. Check out the contenders here and here, ladies and gentlemen. And . . . all you others. Also up for grabs: are those their real biceps, or are they making gratuitous use of image archives? Curious minds want to know.

What are you addicted to? Stand up, we’re all friends at the Lusty Weevil. We’re here to help.

Subscribe. Otherwise you will break the numerical sequence, and my math friends will be sad.

May 8, 2008

Bloody Hell, or Why Rogue Ink is Not a Business Blog

My mother finally got around to coming over to my blog (she claims I never sent her a link, but she lies. She lied when she told me I couldn’t have a cupcake, too. She is an excellent liar when she chooses to be. Where do you think I learned the roguish tendencies?). She’s also a marketing expert, so the very first thing she did after she told me she loves my writing (because the mom gene comes first) was send me an itemized list of questions and critiques. Number one on this list – yes, she numbered this list – was:

1. Why swear or use off-color language when your clients (and mother) might read them and be put-off?

It took me awhile to answer this question, but I can almost guarantee the next nine words are going to make my poor mom sorry she asked it.

This Blog is Not My Business. It’s My Pub.

Here’s how I think about it. My business, Good Ink, is my place of work. Actually ‘place of work’ sounds awfully hoity-toity. It’s my office. It’s my nose-grinder. It’s the place with the flourescent lights and the water cooler and that accounting guy who picks his nose in front of you. I spend my whole day there, and I like my work, but when I’m done, I am done.

This blog, Rogue Ink, is the pub I go to after work. It’s where all my buddies are, where other people who work hard all day can hang out and commiserate. Brett Legree is here in his kilt and Naomi Dunford is mocking him about it, and Bob Younce is here talking stuff over with James Chartrand, and I am trying to say something funny enough to get Sandie Law to snort something out of her nose. There are a couple new guys here too, and we’re going to make them play darts later, and they don’t even know it.

If a client comes on into the bar, that’s great, and I will probably offer to buy that client a beer. By and large, I really like my clients, and I am thoroughly psyched if my client wants to come and hang out at my blog. However, I do not expect that client to be shocked that I said the word ‘hell’ to the barkeep while ordering him his drink. We are no longer in the office. We are at the pub. We’re going to tell stories and shoot the breeze and talk about other things than business. Later there’s going to be a pinata and a reggae band and Wendi Kelly and Matt Tuley will sing karaoke duets. It will be awesome.

That Damned Polonius Quote Again

This is all Harrison’s fault. “To thine own self be true,” he said, but he also said this, and I liked this better: “The thing is, this is your personality. If you try to fit your site/blog into something you’re not, it will show through and no amount of sprucing up will help you with that inconsistency.

He is right. I am a funny, funny chick. I make people laugh. I get my client’s voices because I like talking to them, finding out about them, and I like knowing what cracks them up. If they want to hire a copywriter who really gets them and can also handle the professional part of meeting deadlines and marketing strategically, they have found their woman. If they want someone who never says a word stronger than ‘darn’ and would faint at the very idea of an off-color pun, they should hire someone else. I will refer them myself. I don’t want those people unhappy. If I can’t make them happy, I will send them to someone who can.

I can make an awful lot of people happy, though. I know. I’ve tried.

There’s Nothing For ‘Em Here

Mitch Hedberg tells a good story. I like this one: “I was in downtown Boise Idaho and I saw a duck. I knew the duck was lost, because ducks aren’t supposed to be downtown. There’s nothing for ’em there.” True. There’s nothing for ducks in downtown Boise, Idaho. And there is nothing for clients seeking posts on copywriting at Rogue Ink.

I know there’s a possibility clients may come around the blog just looking for useful information and articles on copywriting. I am sorry to tell them we do not offer that service at this pub. We offer useful information and articles, made to deliver, all day long at Good Ink. Here at the pub we mostly tell jokes about weevil sex and make fun of bad grammar. Sometimes we touch on copywriting, but it is bounded by jokes about being broke and frosted with rants about cheese, and I am pretty sure they were looking for something more straightforward than that.

I know that it may take them awhile to figure this out, because other blogs often have useful information, and they are not yet aware that we don’t play by the books over here at the Rogue Ink pub. And while they are figuring it out, it is possible they might see a bad word. So I will probably, when the website is up and running, have something right at the top of the blog that indicates this is not a Shop O’ Useful Copywriting Tips. It is a Pub O’ Awesomely Random. And if the client is still down to hear all about that, he should pull up a stool.

Aretha Knows What’s Up

Respect goes a long, long way. I’m not going to curse at my clients just to make them upset. I’m actually not going to curse at anyone to make them upset. Very frequently, though, I cuss not because I am being offensive or mean (unless we are talking about Hitler again), but because I am really freakin’ excited. I have noticed this rubs off on my commenters, too, and that’s great. When a commenter tells me a post I’ve written on here was fucking awesome, I expect a client to know that this not cause for alarm. This is actually good for them. People do not get that psyched about mediocre writing. If my writing can inspire a delighted oath or two, that is also – if I may use the term – fucking awesome. My clients are savvy people. They know from complimentary cursing.

I respect my clients. I respect that some of them are made uncomfortable by off-color language in their business affairs. I respect that, and I promise I won’t do it around them when we’re talking business. Since I have a pretty good radar for that sort of thing, I will probably even anticipate it before it becomes an issue. No one need ever worry about going to my website, hiring me for a gig, and having me make them uncomfortable. They might need to worry a teeny bit about me knocking their socks off, but that is okay. I will buy them new socks. It’s part of the package deal.

Those clients who don’t want to see me when I’m off duty over here at Rogue Ink absolutely do not have to. I won’t treat them any differently and I certainly won’t work for them any less hard. If they want to see only my professional side, that is okay with me. I personally feel my rogue side is equally awesome, especially because it wears leather and throws knives more often, but all do not share my tastes, and I respect that. I’ll meet those clients at the office in the morning. I’ll have their first draft ready for them.

What Happened to Mom?

I read her, verbatim, with all the cuss words in it, Naomi’s post from yesterday. And she laughed so hard she choked on a hiccup.

Tune in tomorrow and I’ll tell you why the Rogue Ink pub is a different kind of blog, and why you should all hang out in it and play darts. It’s going to be revolutionary – my first blog post written in advance. I actually feel a little faint.

Subscribe if you believe in rogues. It’s the only way to save me.

April 23, 2008

Milestones in Blogging

Filed under: Blogging — Tei @ 5:24 am
Tags: , ,

I have my first mean comment today!

I am secretly sort of delighted. It wasn’t even a misspelled, ignorant sort of mean comment. It was a numbered, listed, analytical mean comment, and it touched several times on my insecurities, my ineptitude, and my mental health. (Note to hate commenter: that’s what I do, dude. Quit stealing my material.) You can check it out here, at the tail end of yesterday’s post. You can’t miss it. It’s the long, unkind one.

According to Mr. Oscar Nardini:

  1. I have a disturbed personal life. (Everyone who is actually in my personal life concurs.)
  2. I resent babies. (TRUE. I want someone to spoon feed ME. I am taking applications.)
  3. Nobody really breakdances anymore. (I know a couple of dudes in the Grand Central Station subway who will give Oscar the lie on this one. And these guys in Boston. They’re pretty awesome.)
  4. Ugly babies are ugly; talking on the phone is no substitute for real contact. (I am not sure how those two subjects relate. Though I agree heartily with both statements.)
  5. I am no good at being a phony, and yet I am wildly untrustworthy. (I somehow objected to both of these. I’m not sure why.)
  6. My missives are narcissistic. (Probably.)
  7. I am shallow. (Then why is my cat ugly?)
  8. I am successful at my job. (Oh, Oscar. I wish.)

Being new to the blogosphere, and this most certainly being the first time I’ve had an audience large enough to merit dissenting voices, I don’t know how often other bloggers deal with unkind commentary, nor if there is some communally accepted way of handling the situation. Do you ignore it? Do you have a private little chuckle with your friends? Are you supposed to take it personally?

Now, with material like that, you will not be surprised that my first impulse was to make fun of it. But first, I did what any reasonable person would do:

I Googled the sucker.

And found this blog, in which an author of the same name (and I am assuming, here, that there is only one Oscar Nardini in the world, and if not I most humbly beg the pardon of the wronged party). In this blog, Mr. Nardini speaks of his clinical depression, including medications for Paxil and Celexa. His description of himself on his blog is “By a lot of people’s standards, I live a rather dull existence.”

I can’t be MAD at a clinically depressed guy.

This is a man suffering from depression. I do not suffer from depression. I am, in fact, happier than I have ever been in my life. I just moved to the first place that’s ever felt like home. I live in a house that has roses just beginning to climb up the front porch. I’m starting my own writing business, an endeavor in which all my friends and family avidly support me. My work satisfies me emotionally and ethically. I have good friends and a love life that suits me down to the ground. My town brews good beer. I have nothing to complain about but one guy, who doesn’t know me, pretending he does.

And a lousy cold. The cold really sucks, actually. Anyone out there working on a cure for the common cold: I salute you. But other than that, I’m good. I don’t need to make fun of sad folk. I feel that probably sinks me into a deeper circle of hell. And mine is plenty deep already. I once mocked a midget. No, it’s cool, he was a friend. But I’ve done other stuff. Unspeakable stuff. Stuff Oscar would disapprove of.

So I’m going to ask a favor of the couple hundred people who wander through here on a regular basis. Go on over to Oscar’s blog, and say something nice to him. Don’t offer judgments. Give him a bit of poetry you liked, or an inspiring quote, or just a friendly hey-it’s-okay kind of exchange. He seems like a sad guy. Give him something to not be sad about.

Hope that’s what you were looking for, Oscar.

For all you other nasty commenters out there

I am not usually this benevolent. I will strike you from above if you come around here saying mean things just to be douchebags. I will most certainly not link to your blog and indicate that others should go be kind to you. This is a special event, in celebration of my mean-aversary (named by GirlPie, who is studiously awesome and also referred to this event as my ‘deflowering’), and for Oscar only.

Because I have secretly always liked the name Oscar, ever since Sesame Street.

NEW DEVELOPMENT: Oscar has evidently removed his blog from the net. I don’t quite know what to make of that. Um . . . vengeance is mine?

Stick around. I’m funny when I’m not saddened. Better yet, subscribe, and I’ll be funny at you from your inbox.

April 9, 2008

Welcome IttyBiz Peeps!

Be it known that Naomi over at IttyBiz is my deep and abiding nemesis forthwith, for the cacophony of readers she hath brought to my tiny little blog. As proof, I give you this taunting little note she left me:

Haha. Now you’re going to have to start writing “Content is king” all over your blog and using numbers in your post titles because YOU’RE A REAL BLOGGER NOW! Na na na na NAAAA na.

Oh, very clever, most excellent adversary. Very clever indeed. You think I will be overwhelmed, but I shall prevail! And live to blog another day. Today, actually. ‘Cause, you know. I’m already here.

Today, I’m going to answer an astoundingly relevant question from one of my new commenters, which is: What is it you write about over here, exactly?

I’m SO glad you asked.

No, really. I prepared for this. I had a whole diagram plotted. Graphs and charts and the whole shebang.

Unfortunately, sticking a diagram in here is an aspect of bloggery that I have not yet mastered, so I give you instead


Rogue Ink is going to provide you with a slew of great information on writing professionally, freelancing by the seat of your pants, and blogging rogue-style (which is to say, with no idea what I’m doing). Why Rogue? Because no matter how desperate the situation, I will manage to wiggle my way out of it. I will climb trees, pick locks, and seduce devilishly handsome men to do it, but I will post daily, goddamnit. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. I’ll be adding things to this as they become necessary.

  • Entrepreneurship: I will be officially founding (and by officially founding, we mean “putting up money to register with the state of Colorado”) my copywriting business, Good Ink (because not everyone likes the idea of a delightfully mischievous rebel writing for their company), on May 1, 2008. I’ll be chronicling all the ups and downs of that venture, including any marketing and business-running advice that has proven useful to me. The good news: my mother’s a marketing guru. The bad news: my aforementioned nemesis is also a marketing guru, and as we have seen, she will stop at nothing. Stay tuned for the ensuing exciting chronicles. If they’re really good, we’ll make them into a comic book.
  • Copywriting: By dint of its being my bread and butter (no, not literally, that would be greasy and disgusting), copywriting is the only topic on this bog on which I am able to speak with authority. And so I shall do so. With aplomb. And that bread and butter. Toasted.
  • Blogging: For the real experts, go check out the ever-growing list of blogging blogs in my links. The stuff you find here on blogging is strictly for newbies, but if you’re like me, you get so desperate looking for matter-of-fact information (HOW do you add an RSS feed?) in a world full of professionals that some of the things I recently figured out may be just what you’re looked for. Here’s hoping.
  • Journalism: I have a dream that one day I will write for Mother Jones and The Atlantic Monthly. I secretly want to be Tom Chiarella. I want to write epic, amazing stories that will make you weep and think and wonder softly to yourself late at night. Until that day, I write a little column now and again for the SF Chronicle’s Employment section, and will be keeping you posted on any new tricks I discover in journalism. And if I ever get any idea what’s really going on in the White House, rest assured, you will hear about it.
  • The War on English: Screw the war on Christmas. Christmas isn’t going anywhere, and I think we all know it. There are, however, powerful threats to the English language out there, and they will stop at nothing until we are all babbling as incoherently as those typo-endorsing, phonetic spelling, technology-addicted HEATHENS who live in the lower ranks of the comment filters. We, the Coalition of English Majors, shall not take this assault to our beloved language lying down. Nay, we shall blog about them, and we shall blog with a righteous fury, and they will know that we are free writers here. Freelancing writers, for the most part. But still. Free as all hell.
  • Off Topic: And now, as Monty Python says, something completely different. These will be the posts that are utterly unrelated to starting, owning, and running a freelance copywriting business. Except insofar as they will generally be starring the exploits, antics, and personal irritations of yours truly, who is the starter, owner, and runner of said freelance copywriting business.
  • Quotes: Quotes are sometimes from famous people, sometimes from other bloggers out there, and mostly just whatever I felt like repeating. It is distinct from Out of Context in that these people wrote it down, and thereby gave their implicit permission to be quoted. Whereas the Out of Context folk were stealth-quoted. That’s why it’s called Rogue Ink. For the stealthiness.
  • Well Played: Sometimes there are people who just do it up right. Occasionally, I’m going to give them some props. Because I grew up in Oakland, and that’s what they called it.

Today’s well played: Naomi of IttyBiz.

A clever gambit indeed, sending your readership over here. I would almost think you meant well. Oh, but I know you have secret plots in store, I do indeed. I will be watching you VERY closely.

If only because your blog is kind of, as we have mentioned before, ridiculously awesome and hilarious. And offers incredible insight into what entrepreneurs should do when they’re scared shitless (this would be me), as well as cutting commentary on bad marketing, truly unique SEO words, and some of the funniest analysis of the current media scene I’ve yet encountered. And your husband is absolutely adorable, and clearly loves you in a deep and abiding fashion.

For making me welcome, for sending your readers, for being clever and funny and encouraging and calling me a bitch several times in a way that somehow made me feel as though I had attained a new level of epic, I would like to say, well played, Naomi. Well played indeed.

Duel at dawn? Your place or mine?

April 8, 2008

The Blog Do-Over

Filed under: Blogging — Tei @ 10:17 pm
Tags: , ,

Remember the do-over? Lose a game of Rock Paper Scissors and you got to do it again, with that magic little phrase? It didn’t matter if paper covered rock. You called a do-over. Because the sun was in your eyes and a caterpillar crawled over your bare foot and you were distracted by a shiny piece of tinfoil on the ground. And you got that do-over, didn’t you, every time. Because five-year-olds understand what is just and righteous. Man, I miss being five years old.

I’m doing over my blog. I’ve learned a few things, which I’m going to list here, and I’m about to take my own advice. If you come back in and some old posts are missing and there are new categories and everything is strange, bear with me. I am trying to do this up right this time. Because scissors cuts paper, damnit.

Here’s what I should have done. Learn from my mistakes, people.

Browse first, blog later. I started browsing after I’d already begun blogging, and that was a horrible mistake. Go to blogs that are similar to what you hope your blog will be. Look around. Look at all the archives you can find. Link to the people who leave comments, and go check out their blogs. When I first started looking around, I thought I was only looking for other writers. If I hadn’t been browsing the comments at Men with Pens, I would never have found IttyBiz, and if I hadn’t found her, I wouldn’t have found Shane & Peter, Dosh Dosh, and Skelliewag (the latter of which has an incredibly relevant post on how to increase your blog’s popularity, but I’m not there yet. I’m just going for ‘good.’ ‘Popular’ I will aspire to later. Like, next week.) Observe these blogs. They are doing everything right. You will learn from them.

Write a plan. Nothing too fancy. If you want to write on a few different topics, or if you have ideas for a good feature, write those down. If you’re going to be blogging on recipes and you want to include one post a day on an unusual use for chocolate, write that down. And then post it. And tell me about it. Because I want to know about unusual uses for chocolate. Decide what you are going to talk about, and what you are not going to talk about, and how you are going to be interesting. Because boring blogs suck. This is the number one rule, in fact. Do not be boring. It applies everywhere in your life.

Start writing. Do not be boring. Try to be clever, try to be interesting, try to stay on topic, whatever that topic may be. If your topic is your long-standing love affair with your OCD disorder, then so be it. Tell me all about how many times you waxed the floor. Tell me about the best kind of wax. Tell me to stir it counter-clockwise instead of clockwise. Do not tell me any of this if your blog is on executive media relations, because I do not care. Try to spell correctly and form coherent sentences. It bothers everyone when you don’t. I’m not talking about a random typo, just as a general rule. Or I might have to get all ranty on you.

Write one post a day. Or close to it, especially if you’re trying to build traffic. People who are momentarily amused by you will expect to be momentarily amused again the next day. And the next. And the next. If you do not amuse them, they will move on. It’s a long, slow slog into the territory of ProBlogger, where if there were no posts for a day, people would rend their garments and keen. Which brings me to . . .

Be prepared to stick it out for the long haul. You are not your readers’ reason for living yet. You are only the guy at the bus stop that they chatted to one day. A very nice guy, personable, funny, entertaining. If that guy is there the next day, the reader might chat with him again, and eventually that guy and the reader might become buddies, and then they might go out, and then he might be the reader’s reason for living. Way, way down the line. That guy is YOU. Moral: do not think that the readers have fallen in love with you just yet. You have to stick it out. Unless the reader in question is your mother. She already loves you. You don’t have to worry about her.

Unless she’s about to marry some shady guy she just met on a cruise. Then you should worry. Otherwise, you’re good.

Blogging is not one-sided. Blogging is just as much about reading as writing. You could write the most brilliant commentary in the world, and you would be very, very lucky to get a good readership. Go to other people’s blogs (you remember, the ones you researched? Go to those. You already like them). Comment on things you think are interesting. Click on the links to other commenters if you think they’re funny or you like what they have to say. Bookmark those blogs if you think they’re brilliant. You won’t be able to find them later. Seriously. It’ll be like your keys.

Show some love for others. One of the best things you can do to increase traffic to your blog is to comment on other awesome and noteworthy blogs and link them to your site. DO NOT comment on blogs if you don’t actually like them. DO NOT link to blogs just because those blogs get a lot of traffic. Do not, in short, be an ass about it. These guys are out there. They do little hit-and-run jobs, drop a comment that says ‘hey come look at my blog its coool!!!’ and then they run away again. Do not be that guy. We HATE that guy. I have only been here a few weeks, and if I saw that guy on the street, I would hit him in the nose.

Now, on the other hand, if I were to encounter any one of the lovely people who’ve been by just to post a nice comment, I would buy them a cup of coffee and ask after their children’s health. You see the difference?

Respond to your comments. All of them. Even if it’s just to say thanks for stopping by. If you really like the person and think they’re clever and funny, you should say so, and get a little bit of repartee going. Naomi at IttyBiz has agreed to be my nemesis, and I have never been so thrilled in my life.

Respect your elders. And by this, I mean elder blogs, not necessarily elder people. Though you should respect your elder people, too. Give them your seat on the train. Come on!

Some of the people out there blogging successfully for ten years are only about my age (and I am VERY young. In fact, I wet my bed last week). Thank them profusely when they show up on your blog and say kind things about you, and do not, by all that is holy, abuse their comment boards. Remember that many of these people are very intelligent and could probably kill you with the sheer power of their Digg page status. This is a mighty power indeed. It is a good thing Darth Vadar never found out about it, or that whole Dark Side issue might have ended differently. Then again, we might not have had to suffer through Episodes I-III. So it’s kind of a toss-up there. But still. The point is, it is a MIGHTY power, and though most bloggers are benevolent folk, they can bring WRATH upon you.

Don’t plagiarize. I should not have to say this, but I will anyway. Don’t plagiarize. It is just WRONG. However, one thing that is completely allowed is saying ‘DoshDosh did something brilliant today, and I’d like to riff off it for this next post.’ I wouldn’t do this all the time, or people will think that you cannot think for yourself. Yes, that is correct: the blogosphere will judge you. Sometimes they will judge you worthy, sometimes they will judge you sadly wanting, but judged you will be. Get used to it.

So this is my do-over. I’ll be posting over the next couple of days about the categories I’ve come up with that I’ll be referring to regularly, some of which will be off topic, but they will say they’re off topic in big, friendly letters so you can identify them easily and from a distance. Those are also probably the categories where all the naughty words are going to be, so if you get a kick out of that kind of thing, come on down.

What do you wish you could do over? If you have additions, I want to hear, because everyone remembers that there are infinite reasons to get a do-over, and all of them are valid.

Look! Shiny piece of foil!

Totally legit.

April 6, 2008

Things Bloggers Know.

Filed under: Blogging,Writing — Tei @ 4:15 am
Tags: , ,

I am not part of the technology-savvy generation. I was sick that day.

For those who don’t know, I am twenty-four years old. I am smack in the middle of the digital revolution. I am the exact correct age to have started an internet company eight years ago, from scratch, and played a lot of Guitar Hero in the conference room with my buddies while laughing about our 401(k)s right up until the moment we sold the whole shebang to Google, whereupon we began to laugh about our freshly-acquired personal islands and what we were going to name them.

I have not done any of this. I bought my first iPod last year and I’ve never played an Xbox. I am, in fact, not certain that I have capitalized the correct random letters in either of those references. I handwrite letters, people. I still write in cursive. In a Moleskine notebook. Hemingway and I would have gotten along great, excepting the whole ‘I have a uterus’ problem.

The end result of this is that I know how to write. I know how to fashion a sentence and spell properly. I am a skilled enough grammarian to screw with the rules of grammar in an ironic fashion when I feel like it, and well enough versed in the definition of ‘irony’ to know that those kids bringing Converse All-Stars back are not, in fact, being ironic. I’m a pretty good writer.

I’m discovering, as I tool around the blogosphere, that I am not a terribly good blogger. I’m new. I’m a little bit in awe. But I am a bright cookie, and there are some things going on here that I’m pretty sure I could do, if I were paying a little more attention. For example:

Bloggers know how offer useful information.

I’ve started to click on funny people who comment on blogs I’m reading, and I wind up at places like IttyBiz, who actually made me laugh Mike’s Light Hard Lemonade out of my nose (it’s only in my house because a friend of mine brought it over, and since she brought it over, I have to drink it, or other people will find out that it is in my house and shun me forever), and Write From Home, whose hostess I would sincerely like to ask to marry me because her glasses and her writing make me happy in nearly equal quantities. These women are hilarious. But every single post, even the Mike-snorting one, is somehow pertinent to freelancing, writing, or running an at-home business.

Their blogs are on-topic, effortlessly organized, and useful. Not always to ME, and I’d like to speak with all of them about that, because I think we can all agree that all blog posts everywhere should always pertain immediately to me and the particular problem that I’m having that day, but they are useful. My posts? Not so much. My posts are simply spewing whatever is troubling me online so that other people have to deal with it, and I can finish writing up case studies for a marketing firm in Oakland.

Potential solution: I could figure out how to solve the thing that is troubling me, and explain to other people how I have solved it. A twofold accomplishment, that. I will no longer have a problem, and my post will be useful to others.

Potential problem with the potential solution: All of my problems will be solved. And then what will I tell my therapist?

Bloggers know SEO. And understand keywords. And statistics on their visitors, and tracking, and other things that appear to me to be MAGIC, because how the hell else did you know I whispered two of the four words in the title of your last post into the bottom of my coffee cup? HOW DID YOU KNOW?

Bloggers evidently understand all kinds of things that I have only been aware of peripherally up until this point. I know what SEO stands for, and I understand that, theoretically, when you have harnessed its power, you can make people find you even when they were secretly trying to find how to cattle brand children (that was the IttyBiz post that made me snort Mike’s, in case anyone was wondering). When I contemplate the sheer mass of things that bloggers understand that I do not, I pray deep in my dark little soul that they will only use this power for good. And by ‘good,’ I mean, ‘my benefit.’

Now, I’m slowly learning what some of these things are, but I am a long highway and a few bank jobs from being able to put them to any kind of legitimate use. Which is frustrating to me, since if there is anything I enjoy doing, it’s screwing around online looking for information on a topic I would be ashamed to broach to my fellow graduates of the University of Chicago. I have been online, at four in the morning, hunting for the year when Leonardo DiCaprio went from lanky pretty-boy to goateed beefcake, just because I couldn’t remember, and I had to know. Right that second. I’m sure that information would be useful to someone. I’m sure ‘celebrities who took a year off and came back looking studly’ is a blog post for a blog out there somewhere in the giant sphere, but I don’t know where it is. Why? Because I don’t get SEO, that’s why.

Just so all the University of Chicago graduates out there understand that I did not bribe my way into my education, I have also been up at four in the morning looking for who said that philosophers were defined as before and after Hegel. See? Completely legitimate.

Potential solution: I can go read all the extraordinarily useful blog posts on SEO.

Potential problem with potential solution: I am out of Mike’s Light Hard Lemonade, and I don’t have anything else to shoot out of my nose while I read. Also, I believe ‘browsing posts’ technically qualifies as ‘the antithesis of completing money-paying work.’

Potential solution to the potential problem for the potential solution: I live behind a liquor store. And I could call it ‘research.’

Bloggers know how to categorize.

Who came up with the whole ‘7 Habits of Successful Toilet-Cleaning’ craze? I want his name. I know it was a guy, because most girls I know actually hate the number 7, for reasons we discuss in depth at our semi-annual How to Make Men Suffer meeting. (Get with me on this one, Lori.) Even if it isn’t seven reasons, it’s five distinct categories, it’s eight precise paragraphs, it’s a six-series on Writing as The Art of War (I am looking at YOU, Men with Pens, though I continue to nurse a massive crush on you and it was a damned good series).

Now, I can categorize. I know how. But categorization is something that I generally do only when somebody pays me. Or when it involves my sock drawer. Because I can’t stand it when the big fluffy ones are in with the summer socks, because then I wind up wearing summer socks to bed and then my feet get bloody cold.

See that? Right there? That was me, digressing. That is what I do. My thoughts do not flow in a logical, ordered sequence. Bloggers can do this, and they can apparently do it without thinking about it too terribly hard, because rates for blogging are among the lowest I have yet seen for writers, and bloggers take them willingly. I can only assume that this is because bloggers find blogging EASIER than other kinds of writing.

Which means they must be able to naturally switch on the part of their brain that organizes socks and apply it to writing. I cannot do this. Socks remain socks. Online rambling remains online rambling. And the twain have never yet met.

Potential solution: Approach all posts as if writing short essay. With abbreviated paragraphs and no footnotes and no Shakespearian references.

Potential problem with the potential solution: No Shakespearian references?

Potential solution to the potential problem to the potential solution: Well, maybe just a few Shake – no, screw it, I’ll go get my graduate degree and write theses instead. And then I will bang those theses to the doors of churches, because Martin Luther had a great idea there.

Conclusion: Blogging. It’s way harder than it looks. But it brings you things like this. And this. And especially this. And, as I’ve recently noticed, bloggers are an encouraging and community-oriented lot. Which must make it all okay.

April 3, 2008

Some love for others. Especially Men with Pens.

I believe this is the article that started it all. Well, not for me, because I am not that good at keeping up with the blogosphere, but chronologically at least, this was the first in this week’s mad viral interviewing posts, and Lori over at Words on the Page credits it for inspiring her getting-ever-more-awesome series on interviewing (today’s post: How to Suck at Sales. Hey, that’s me! I suck at sales!), so here’s some link love for Freelance Folder.

I think it’s like yawning. You know how even if you didn’t see the person yawn, you still have to yawn? I think these interview posts are like that. With less likelihood that a fly is going to wander in there while your mouth is open.

In other news: I’ve discovered that the blogosphere is the best possible place to get advice on freelancing. When I first moved to New York (cue music), I called up every contact my mother had in the area, and believe you me, she has many, but most of them couldn’t be bothered and few of them had any useful advice for a just-starting-out writer.

Now, I’ve been corresponding with a bunch of folk over at Men with Pens about the difficulties of a freelance writer’s life, and my one measly whiny little post about hating to need gas money for an interview immediately kicked off a level of heavy-duty cheering-up, the likes of which I have not seen since the last time I knocked a front tooth out. There was James, one of the above-mentioned Men with Pens, who related a story that should bring tears to the eyes of any freelancer, about shoveling horseshit for a living, and this guy Brett, who said nice things about my blog and my writing, and this lovely woman Karen, who offered to advise me on auction sites, which I will probably be talking about in some detail when I grasp what they are and how to use them. And when I do, it will be because Karen helped me. Because she is more awesome than the professionals in New York all rolled together. I know. I talked to all of them.

Seriously. Men with Pens. They’re a great crew. They’ll make you one of them. Also, they’re just damnably good writers over there, and I need more brethren.

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