Tag Archives: blogs

Minus Manhattan Artwork Feature

20 Jun

Big thanks to Minus Manhattan for featuring my artwork today!

Minus Manhattan

My photomontage, “Light Electric,” featured at the Minus Manhattan site.
For more like this, check out my creations at Flickr, 500px, or Pinterest.

Readers of rsmithing.com would likely enjoy this well-curated and prolific visual blog by Chase Turner, with a huge selection of “links and stories on photography, art, politics, design, advertising, technology, music, and culture.” The site has been featured on The Daily WhatGizmodoJezebelAmerican Photo MagazineThe Village VoiceBoing BoingBlackBook, and Buzzfeed.

Thanks again to Minus Manhattan for the feature!

How To Write The Perfect Blog Post

18 Jul

I don’t often straight-up repost content without elaborating much, but wow — this is one great infographic. And I don’t often say that either. Click for full-size, see what you think & share your thoughts below (credit: Alex Mangini of Kolakube, Derek Halpern of SocialTriggers; first spotted at FamousBloggers via Gregory Ciotti):


What do you think? Do you employ these practices? Is this really a recipe for perfect post? And if not, what else would you do? What would you do differently? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Blog Post Artwork

8 Mar

This post is kind of about art, kind of about technology, and hey, there’s even a link referenced about music. But mainly… it’s about writing. That’s the great thing about having your own blog: you make the rules.

Beats Antique A Rosy Photo Edit Tutorial Contrasts Make Connectionss
Digital Ancestry - KITT Wallpaper Moth Drama Cheap Trick In Color 1998
Blogging About Blogging Photography, Technology, and Connections in the Name of Art Insect Photography Tips

Though I’m going to go on about these images, I consider this post to be about writing since all the above visuals were created specifically to promote blog posts (linked in the above images). One thing I enjoy doing to promote my posts, even though results are limited – but fun when they happen (see comments here) is to create images with text and visuals on my phone hyping the posts via Instagram.

iPhone Text Apps

I use the apps Phonto and Labelbox to overlay text onto images created using something from the posts. Having been a graphic designer for years, producing advertisements, brochures, order forms, whatever… it’s amazing to me to have not only such image editing capability at my thumbs via my iPhone, but now to be able to put together decent layouts with text as well.

It’s Like Flyers for Your Blog

I got my start in graphic design by creating flyers for my various bands’ gigs (more on that here), so whipping up these mini-promos comes naturally. I also like the limitations of the square format, the imprecise-yet-as-precise-as-allowable ethos of dragging text around with your fingertips, the instant gratification of working in such small file sizes, and the direct connection to principles of graphic design.

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept…

I challenge anyone reading this who hasn’t done so to create a layout using these tools and not encounter considerations of space, hierarchy of information and typesetting (and maybe, just maybe, have fun in the process). If you do this for the first time, definitely come back here and comment with a link to your artwork and details on how you did it.

It’s part of my designer thinking to consider typography, negative space, flow and whatnot, so doing this as a complement to blog posts is a rewarding outlet. I’ve noticed a few others on Instagram doing similar stuff, and I nearly always check out the posts if the visuals are cool enough. Below are some more examples by Maddy McCoy, aka The_Real_McCoy of the MadAboutPixls blog. Great stuff there about mobile art; check ’em out.

What do you think? Would seeing visuals like this leave you inclined to click through to a blog post? Have you ever created layouts with text and images on your phone? If so, what apps do you use and what has your experience been like? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Best Buy Going Bye-Bye?

6 Jan
Best Buy Distressed

Best Buy Distressed: illustrating a less rosy, more hazy future. Created with Hipstamatic. Free for your use with attribution. Click to Download Hi-res at Flickr.

At Forbes.com this week, Larry Downes expands thoughtfully on “Why Best Buy is Going out of Business…Gradually.” Among other salient points, Downes slices and dices the following corporatespeak issued to some about-to-be-very-disappointed customers (you know, those who keep the company in business):

“Due to overwhelming demand of hot product offerings on BestBuy.com during the November and December time period, we have encountered a situation that has affected redemption of some of our customers’ online orders.”

And then Downes totally pwns them:

Let’s parse that sentence for a moment.  The company “encountered a situation”—that is, it was a passive victim of an external problem it couldn’t control, in this case, customers daring to order products it acknowledges were “hot” buys.  This happened, inconveniently for Best Buy, during “the November and December period,” that is, the only months that matter to a retailer. For obvious reasons, the statement ties itself in knots trying to avoid mentioning that the “situation” occurred during the holidays.

Ugh. I can see Best Buy’s directors from marketing, legal and fulfilment all in a conference room drafting that missive, the poor souls. I don’t envy them, and I will not get on some high horse about how this kind of bad news could be better delivered — because it’s so obvious, as Downes rightfully notes. He continues:

The situation that Best Buy “encountered” has “affected redemption” of some orders.  Best Buy doesn’t fill online orders, it seems. Rather, customers “redeem” them. So it’s the customers, not Best Buy, who have the problem. And those customers haven’t been left hanging; they’ve only been “affected” in efforts to “redeem” their orders. It’s not as if the company did anything wrong, or, indeed, anything at all. — Larry Downes, for Forbes

Best Buy at Forbes

Click to view original article at Forbes.com

YIKES. So does Best Buy Even Apologize?

To Best Buy’s credit, they did apologize later in the same communication. Yet I can’t help but slap my forehead and wonder what could have happened If only they were more direct, maybe even going out of their way to make things right (free $20 gift cards, store credit, etc.) — they could even have turned this into a PR win… instead of something bloggers are writing about weeks later as a burgeoning harbinger of disaster.

Though I’m not sure I agree with Downes on Best Buy going the way of Circuit City in the immediate future, it certainly does not look rosy for them at present. And I’m not even talking about their finances. I’ve had great service and lousy service there, but the culture hinted at by this kind of language does not sound like that of an organization built to last.

At least, if it doesn’t want things like this written about it in Forbes.

And in blogs.

What’s your Best Buy experience been? Have you ever had an online order cancelled on you, and if so, what happened? Do you think the company is spiraling toward the drainhole? Let us hear from you in the comments!

6 Mandatory Posting Steps for New Bloggers

4 Jan
That's my computer.

Blogging is your friend; you’re reading one now.

I’ve been blogging for a few months now, incorporating some techniques for engagement that I believe can also help in composing posts. I share these with you with the hope of improving and encouraging your own blog development.

As with any writing, simply getting started or maintaining consistency can be obstacles, but when you have a sense of the elements in mind already, the going can be easier because as you compose, you’re doing so with an idea of what could come next.

Like these images? See the full series at Flickr.
Free to download for your own use (with credit).

Blogging is more fun and you’ll likely be more motivated when you’ve got some back-and-forth with like-minded bloggers. And with every post, there are a few basic things you can do to spark discourse. Good general tips on interaction and growing site traffic abound — and you should definitely do those other things — but the focus of this post is methodology.

Now, the tips…

This. Weekly.

1. Post Regularly

I make it a point to do at least one post per week, going into detail about a singular topic at length. Part of the appeal of blogging for me is that this can be accomplished with as few as four or five sentences, especially if the main focus is an embedded video — sometimes those speak for themselves. Otherwise, just a few paragraphs are plenty enough for the quick-scan reading format of online publishing.

Regardless of length, commit to something; pick a schedule and do your best to stick to it, whether monthly, biweekly, or maybe just a sentence here and there every few days. I’ve found weekly works best for me, because as the days move on beyond a post, I’m noticing topics that might make interesting material for next time.

Blog About Blogging – A Metablog?

2. And Post When You Feel Like It!

Sometimes I’ll get inspired to share a quick photo immediately with maybe a paragraph or some thoughts on something I’ve just discovered online. The WordPress app makes doing this ridiculously easy for anyone with a smartphone. Plus, coming to do a quick writeup at the PC with the plan of only composing three or four sentences and an image can be all you need for a solid expression.

You can always save the post to flesh out later, or complete it and schedule for publishing at a later date and time (again, WordPress makes this easy). Even when posting by phone, you can revisit from the PC to add links or other content. Sometimes I’ll file them away mentally, or sometimes I’ll save an ongoing draft to flesh out later. Much of this very post I actually dictated using Dragon Dictation in the morning, coming back to add images and a few edits here in the evening. The important thing is just to get started — take that first step and you’re more likely to complete the journey.

Links. Gotta’ Have ‘Em.

3. Link Your Words

I’ll always link to other sites offering further explanation on subjects I think readers may find interesting. I search for relevant news articles, other bloggers’ writings, and sometimes just link directly to an image search result for a broad visual reference.

Seeking out and including just the right links (even to your own previous posts) is like adding spice to the sauce,  part of the creative process of your composition.

4. Always include a picture. This isn’t Twitter.

Whatever you’re writing about, it’s always more interesting with an image. The Internet is a visual medium, and pictures are easy enough to include, especially in your blog (vs. the text-centric Twitter). Chances are you have a camera in your pocket right now attached to your music player which also makes phone calls. So it can be just as simple to create original visual material for your blog as doing an image search. If you do include images found elsewhere, always give credit and copyright details.

Click to view the full-size series

How dull would this post be without images? Y a w w w n…

5. Ask The Question. Prompt Discussion.

Since comments and discussion amplify the rewards of blogging, I like to start the discussion just as readers have finished cruising the page, always ending each post with open-ended questions. I learned this from the site Mashable, a tech blog that does this with nearly every article.

Use the Related Articles tool to give props to other bloggers.

6. Include Related Articles

Finally, I’ll always add related articles as trackbacks, or, links to other blogs and sites. I’ve gotten a few trackbacks from other sites myself, and it’s a very cool complement to know someone else sees your work as authoritative enough to reference in their own post. WordPress makes this easy with its automatically included Related Articles tool, and it’s always worthwhile to seek out bloggers like yourself and link to their sites. Just search for topics akin to your subjects, then share your thoughts on those posts in the comments with a polite invitation to do the same at your place followed by a link. You’re also more likely to see interaction from individuals than major news outlets, so try to link to homegrown bloggers if practical (thanks, Sherrilynne Starkie for that tip).

So there you have some best practice basics for blogging excitement. These may or may not work for you, and they certainly aren’t required. But as part of the creative process, doing these things will very likely foster participation and to give greater dimension to your content.

What do you think? What techniques like these do you use on your blog? What’s your experience with blogging been like? How has it evolved from your first post to how you create now? What’s your process of creating a post like? Let us hear from you in the comments!
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