Get Your Message Across Clearly, Whether You’re a Blogger or a Beauty Queen

September 30, 2010 | 2 Comments

For many of us, communicating in English is not just an option but a requirement. Is it because more people can understand us when we speak that way? Or is it because we appear to be more intelligent and more successful?

Whether you’re writing a blog post or answering a question in the Binibining Pilipinas pageant, it is more important that what you say makes sense.

Our priority should not be to speak in a language that makes us look better, but in a general method that communicates our ideas more clearly. The choice of language is just part of that.

How do you get your message across clearly? Although this list is generally aimed at bloggers, you’ll see that it applies to anybody who wants to reach out to a group of people, large or small. Yes, even beauty queens.

Find your target audience. What is your blog about? Which types of visitors will find your blog interesting? Your target audience will help you figure out the tone, length, frequency, and depth of your blog posts. If you crack a certain joke, will they find it funny? If you write about a new topic, will they still understand it, much less comment on it? This is why surveys, polls, and statistics are very important; they give a very good idea of who you’re dealing with so that you can better prepare for it next time. (Beauty pageant metaphor: Find your strength and play it up. Remember that you’ll have to appeal to many different audiences too: your hometown crowd, the foreign crowd, and the judges.)

Organize your thoughts. At the heart of blogging is writing, and if you don’t know the basics of building around a main idea with the different techniques you’ve learned in school, better brush up on that. Form an outline of what you want to say, then expound on it. (Beauty pageant metaphor: This is especially difficult since you have zero preparation time for the questions you’ll be asked. Think fast, don’t stumble on your words.)

Keep it simple, keep it real. Don’t use complicated words or excessive paragraphs just to give others the illusion that you’re the expert. People are considered smarter when they can turn complex ideas into really simple-looking ones. And if you’re not that smart, don’t even try to cover that up; your audience will figure that out sooner or later. (Beauty pageant metaphor: Need I say more?)

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Protect Your Most Valuable Blog Resource, Stop Content Scraping and Plagiarism

September 17, 2010 | 8 Comments

There’s a very popular saying amongst bloggers, and it goes: content is king. As a blogger, your content is your most precious resource. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to let sploggers and feed scrapers take that away from me. Not if I can help it. Not if you can help it. How?

Label your feeds with copyright notices.

Add your name, website, and URL (site URL or post URL) to your feed so that when it is read elsewhere, others will know where it really came from.

Recommendation: FeedEntryHeader Plugin. Many feed customization plugins exist, but I like this particular plugin because it affixes the necessary information before the content of the post rather than after, as feed scrapers usually truncate the content. And if you can help it, spell out the URL in plain text to your website or blog post rather than link to it using HTML. Scrapers will definitely want visitors to think they didn’t steal someone else’s content.

Feedback: Do you use summaries instead of full feeds because you don’t want scrapers to access them? Or do you provide both?

Block questionable visitors.

If they can’t find your blog, they won’t be able to take advantage of it.

Recommendation: AntiLeech Plugin. This plugin ideally stops potential scrapers from accessing your website content and instead feeds them fake content. You can enter either IP addresses or User Agent strings that identify the scrapers. Read more about AntiLeech here.

The tricky part is figuring out who your enemy is. They will have to scrape your feed first for you to know about it, right? You can use ©Feed to figure out who is reading your feeds, but more often than not they actually send trackbacks to your post once they’ve scraped it, so you can get their IP address from that as well.

Feedback: Where do you find your IP address blacklists?

Disable hotlinking.

Hotlinking is a term that describes how other people use your content with your own server bandwidth, which is how much data your server transfers over a period of time. Every time someone loads your website, all those files that get loaded is equal to a certain bandwidth. So if people keep hotlinking your photos, music, or videos, your bandwidth quota for the month (or quarter or year) gets used up. Now hotlinking may not be an issue for you—if you have lots of bandwidth, and don’t care about attribution or who uses your content. Normally it is; it’s bad netiquette. If you do care, you need to stop people from hotlinking.

Recommendation: Hotlink Protection Plugin. Enter the file location which you want to protect, and if an external website loads any image from it, a different image will be displayed (which is customizable). Since images are the most common target anyway, this plugin will suffice.

Feedback: Do you host your own images or do you hotlink them from sites like PhotoBucket?

*Note: What the plugins can accomplish can also be done in less straightforward but more flexible methods like PHP programming, .htaccess editing, cPanel configuration, web applications.

Take action.

Protecting your content isn’t just about setting up defense mechanisms. You should be vigilant enough to find out if you’ve been scraped or plagiarized and then do something about it.

Recommendation: 6 Steps to Stop Content Theft. These are six long and tough steps, but if you value your work, you will be thankful when it gets you through:

  1. Detection
  2. Preserving the Evidence
  3. Contact the Plagiarist (if Practical)
  4. Contacting the Advertisers (optional)
  5. Contacting the Host
  6. Contacting the Search Engines

Feedback: Do you think Filipino bloggers stand a chance in a battle against plagiarism, with all these (US-biased) steps that need to be accomplished?

Feedback: Do you know that Creative Commons Licenses like the CC Attribution 3.0 License have been ported to play nicely with Philippine copyright laws?

Sugod mga kapatid!

Right now, fighting plagiarism especially in the form of sploggers and scrapers is very tedious. Hopefully things get easier in the future, but for now, at least we stand a very good chance against it.

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Tip: create a blogging workflow

July 15, 2010 | No Comments Yet

Chris Brogan writes that keeping up a steady blogging pace is no easy task, so you need to be ready with goals, tasks, tools that can help you out when that “blog drought” comes.

See what makes the front page of Digg.com (or your industry’s most likely haunt) – learning by emulating is an important blogging skill. Don’t be a clone, but if you pick up some tricks from writers you come to admire, all the better.

The article contains lots of excellent tips for those who still haven’t quite kept up with their blogging routines. It’s useful for amateur and professional bloggers alike.

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Sharpen your commenting skills too!

March 15, 2010 | 1 Comment

So you’ve learned the ropes of blogging, both the publishing and maintenance sides to it. But how are you doing on the commenting front, or have you put no thought to the way you interact on other people’s blogs? Good thing Quick Online Tips can answer why you should be honing your commenting skills as part of your blogging regimen.

Thousands of blogs are waiting for you to read. Many excellent bloggers are posting great content every day. It is easy to subscribe to far too many blogs, skim the posts and leave nothing of value behind. It is doubtful, no it is ridiculous that you would subscribe to hundreds of paper magazines. Consider, if you had to pay for all your blog subscriptions. Would you do that? Far better to read a few, become involved and comment with purpose and quality..

The post also mentions some of the cardinal rules of commenting: add substance, don’t spam, take a deep breath before resorting to flaming. Bottom line: commenting isn’t quite as refined an art as crafting posts, but with more discussions on them that could change.

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WordPress Plugin: Zen: Distraction-Free Writing

February 18, 2010 | 1 Comment

Zen WordPress plugin

Zen is a WordPress plugin that lets you focus on writing by eliminating all the unnecessary elements in the WordPress admin.

If you’re a fan of WriteRoom, OmmWriter, or similar tools that help you focus on your words instead of the tools you’re using, this plugin will soon make your wildest dreams come true (and give you a simple clean environment within WordPress to write to your heart’s content)! While Zen does not replace the existing Edit Post/Page screen, it provides a layer on top that will help you focus more on the quality of your words and less on the distracting fine-tuning of minuscule details.

The plugin comes with different themes from light to dark, and can be toggled with shortcut keys. Compose blog posts as you normally would in the text editor, with or without HTML. Autosaving also works with Zen.

Download Zen

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Win a mobile broadband modem, domain registration & hosting, Bob Ong books from Tinig.com

June 24, 2009 | No Comments Yet

Buwan ng Wika comes early this year with the launch of Tinig.com’s writing contest entitled Wikang Filipino sa Panahon ng Twitter.

Ayon kay Gat Jose Rizal, na ang kaarawan ay ipinagdiwang natin kahapon, “ang hindi magmahal sa kanyang salita, mahigit sa hayop at malansang isda.” Ngunit sa panahong ito ng Twitter at iba pang makabagong kagamitan sa pandaigdigang komunikasyon, lalo na sa Internet, ano ang papel na ginagampanan ng ating sariling wika?

Very good question. In fact, it feels inappropriate to even write this blog post in Filipino.

But anyway, the mechanics are simple: register at Tinig.com and submit an essay with 500-700 words discussing the importance of the Filipino language in this modern era. Entries should not have been published elsewhere (including blogs). Deadline is on August 19, 2009.

Join now!

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MTV Asia blogger contest

June 18, 2009 | No Comments Yet

MTV Asia, in cooperation with Nuffnang, invites all all bloggers to be part of their trendy blogging squad, which means taking part in lots of MTV events around the world and enjoying lots of goodies. To join:

We believe that words speak volumes, and if your writing oozes with confidence, sass and personality, don’t languish in the background, let your opinions shine! Express yourself and be the voice of MTV Asia as one of our official bloggers.

Categories for submissions include VJs & Celebrities, Lifestyle & Fashion, Gadgets & Gaming, and Music & Entertainment. Deadline is June 30, 2009. Enter here.

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Filipino Voices

April 2, 2009 | No Comments Yet

Filipino Voices

Filipino Voices is a powerhouse of Philippine bloggers who report and comment on news, politics, and society in this country and the rest of the world. Barely over a year old this April 1st, this group publication is the place for fostering a collective conversation on our direction as a nation.

Filipino Voices is more than a blog, it’s a start to the growing power of The Filipino to manifest his own destiny in the online world, which hopefully will have an impact on the physical and more tangible world we live in. Words are powerful and we the bloggers of FilipinoVoices.com know this to be the true power of this blog.

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Win DSLR camera, show & event guesting from TV5

March 18, 2009 | No Comments Yet

TV5 bloggers writing project

TV5 is holding a bloggers contest/writing project for viewers of the shows Lipgloss, Flo, and Midnight DJ and the prizes at stake are pretty interesting. Up for grabs are a DSLR camera and either an invitation to be on one of the shows or a VIP guest at one of their events.

Here are the mechanics posted at this page:

1. This Contest is open to all bloggers who watch the following TV5 shows: Midnight DJ, Lipgloss and/or Flo.

2. Participants must blog about any or all of the 3 TV5 shows listed above. Anything goes! Entries may include comments, recommendations on how to improve the show/s and reasons to watch them or otherwise. They can also express their take on the technical elements of the show like the plot, over-all appeal and other aspects of production.

3. All participating bloggers must register at the TV5Kommunity and post their blog entry’s entry’s URL in the specific thread assigned for this contest.

4. Entries shall be judged via ‘point system’. For every hit and positive feedback generated about the program on both the contestant’s personal blog and their entries in the TV5Kommunity page. Contestant earns ‘points’.

5. The Top 3 bloggers with the highest points shall receive special prizes and their blog entries shall be posted in the TV5 Blogs. Moreover, they shall be given special credits/acknowledgment within their ‘blogged’ TV5 shows.

6. The Grand Prize winner shall receive a DSLR camera and an invitation to be in one of the program’s episodes or in any TV5 event as a VIP guest.

7. All entries must be submitted on or before May 20, 2009. Only hits and positive feedback received until May 20, 2009 shall be considered.

Don’t forget to read the disclaimer too. Isn’t it great to see mainstream media companies reaching out to online media?

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Looking for a blogging philosophy? Try these on for size

February 2, 2009 | No Comments Yet

One of the biggest issues traditional journalists and people who do not understand the internet have against blogging is how easy it is to publish articles with filled unverified facts, lopsided views, and that narrowmindedness one develops in middle of an uproar.

While I don’t agree that all bloggers should be held up to certain standards similar to that of journalists and other members of the media, you might have started wondering how to best approach blogging about a burning topic next time.

Let’s have a look at three philosophies on blogging and writing on the web:

  1. SpeedBlogging: The idea is to always be prepared with ideas, so you can always pick from one of them later. Now expound out by listing key points and mind-mapping. In the words of that famous sports brand (or that former Health Secretary), just do it.
  2. Slow Blogging: In the simplest sense, it’s the “rejection of immediacy”. If you can help it, don’t get swayed by the hype and choose to write when it makes most sense for you to.
  3. Blogging without Obligation: Somewhat leaning toward the Slow Blogging manifesto, BWO also rejects immediacy and every other expectation put in place by the so-called experts. On your blog, you’re the expert.

You might want to ponder on why you started blogging in the first place. If you’re an aspring new media journalist, you probably have to brush up on reporting ethics and whatnot. Try updating your “about me” blurbs to clarify objectives to your audience. Or not, if you don’t care what anybody thinks.

So how do you blog? Do you scramble to hit the publish button ASAP? Do you sleep on your post and come back to it the next day? Or do you raise your middle finger and yell, “screw the rules, I’m doing this my way!”

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Freelance Writing for Dummies by Nina Terol

January 8, 2009 | No Comments Yet

Get a chance to hone your writing skills under the guidance of communications consultant, freelance lifestyle and business journalist, and political communicator Nina Terol in a 2-day workshop entitled Freelance Writing for Dummies.

FREELANCE WRITING FOR DUMMIES is a two-day workshop that takes the freelance writer-wannabe through the whats, whys, whens, and hows of freelance writing in the Philippines. It will tackle the myths, the realities, and the possibilities that make freelance writing intriguing, challenging, and–ultimately–fun. Whether one seeks to freelance part-time or full-time, this workshop will show that a freelance writing career can be rewarding.

Here’s the schedule:

DAY 1: 10 JANUARY (SAT), 9AM-4PM

AM (9AM-12NN)
• Introduction
• DISCUSSION: Why freelance?
• EXERCISE: Your “Life SWOT”
• EXERCISE: Your “Circle of Friends”

PM (1-4PM)
• LECTURE/DISCUSSION: Myths, Realities, and Opportunities of Freelance Writing
>> Including a talk by Carissa Villacorta, author of Surreality
• LECTURE/DISCUSSION: Opportunities in Freelance Writing
• LECTURE: Ready to Write? Here’s What You Need
• Day 1 Wrap-Up

DAY 2: 17 JANUARY (SAT), 1-4PM

• Summary of Day 1 and intro to Day 2
• EXERCISE: Practicing “The Pitch”
>> Guest panelist: Candice Lopez-Quimpo, Editor of Baby Center Philippines
• DISCUSSION: Oops! Traps and Caveats
• Open Forum

*WHAT YOU SHOULD BRING:
• Yourself ?
• An inkling of why you want to get into freelance writing
• A pen and extra paper, if you’re anal about taking notes
• Extra food (light snacks will be served, but you can opt to bring your own lunch or order from the nearby cafes and restos)
• Whatever homework will be assigned for the day

Only 25 slots are available. Register here.

(Via Azrael Colladilla)

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Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty

October 10, 2008 | 1 Comment

Blog Action Day 2008 happens this October 15 and the topic is poverty. Exactly what is it?

Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion.

Here’s a promotional video:

This year’s topic is especially close to Filipino hearts, so I’m sure a lot of bloggers from the Philippines will be participating. Be sure to join as well!

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Write about Cinderella and win Lea Salonga goodies

July 30, 2008 | No Comments Yet

As the Philippine version of Cinderella launches, the Lea Salonga Fans Club is sponsoring a blogging contest. Here are the prizes:

First prize: $100, plus Cinderella soundtrack album (the one that Lea and cast are recording in Manila) and original US-made DVD copies of The Making of Miss Saigon and Hey, Mr. Producer! (Not familiar with the latter? Here.)

The two co-finalists will receive the same package minus the $100 cash prize.

Everyone else who participates will also get a chance to win something, with more copies of the Cinderella soundtrack album and DVDs to be raffled off.

The best part is that Lea Salonga herself will pick the top three entries. The contest duration is the same as the schedule of Cinderella: July 29 to August 24. Winners will be announced by the week of August 25th.

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Photography, Creative Writing and Videography Talk

June 19, 2008 | No Comments Yet

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at Bonifacio High Street is sponsoring a talk on photography, creative writing, ande videography on June 24, 7:00 pm.

Speakers will be Ocs Alvarez in photography, Dean Alfar in creative writing, and Mike Cabardo in videography.

To get into this event, leave a comment here. Only 60 slots are available.

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Tip: Write in Fullscreen Mode in WordPress 2.5

April 10, 2008 | 1 Comment

Still not convinced about switching to WordPress 2.5? Here’s another great feature that might change your mind. While writing a post, you can now block out all the distractions by shifting to fullscreen mode!

Note: you have to use the Visual Editor for this to work. Just click on the icon that looks like a computer screen or hit ALT+SHIFT+G and you have a screenful of writing space instantly! Gone are the days when you have to grab a specialized text editor like WriteRoom or Dark Room just to remove all the unnecessary elements hindering you from writing that million-dollar blog post.

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WordPress Plugin: Zemanta

March 29, 2008 | 1 Comment

Zemanta is a “content suggestion engine for blogging”. Just write a blog post as you normally would and eventually Zemanta suggests relevant links, articles, images, and tags. Needless to say, this is a really convenient and innovative way to help bloggers with their posts.

It currently works with WordPress and Firefox, as well as other blog platforms like Blogger and TypePad. Here’s a video demo of Zemanta for a WordPress blog:


Zemanta WordPress Plugin Teaser from zemanta on Vimeo.

You can also check out a demo at their website. Why not download and install Zemanta and try it out for yourself?

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