Seven great ways to pimp your blog from Karl Schneider


This week I went to Pimp my Blog: an event held at City University about ways to use social media, widgets and apps to get your blog noticed (much more effective than a t-shirt, that’s for sure)…

The panel – including FT journalist Martin Stabe, editor Patrick Smith and Tim Glanfield (editor of Beehive City) – all agreed that the trick was publishing good content on a regular basis whilst having the mindset that it is a public and professional site not a ‘blog’ about your cat or other such trivialities.

Karl Schneider – another panellist and the Editorial Development Director of RBI – came up with a nice little list of widgets and apps that are free to use and which make the experience of visiting your blog a bit more exciting. So, in no particular order, here are seven greatways to soup-up your blog:

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NFD: some obscure and obvious freelancing tips

If – like me – this is your first National Freelancers Day then you’ll be sharing in my unbridled excitement.

Just like when old Saint Nick slides down our chimney chutes the NFD is a great excuse to revel in the merriment and help your fellow freelancing man… All we need now is a horrendously alcoholic cake and a drunken family punch up and the holiday is complete!

As an NFD gift to you I am sharing in a few personal freelancing lessons learned… a couple the hard way.

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Guest Post – Sarah Moore: TV journalism

This week – in a Hacks special – we look at a Wanna-‘be’ and a Wanna-‘been’ in the TV journalism industry. Our Wanna-‘been’ is the award-winning TV journalist Sarah Moore who has worked with ITN, ITV, GMTV and now lectures in broadcast journalism at Salford University.

Sarah is a journalist that has traveled and reported all over the world. Basically, she has bags of experience and that means there’s lots of advice… Here it is.

Lesson number 1: you do not break into television expecting it to be glamorous!
Sarah Moore #4

Of course elements of the job can be. It’s pretty glamorous being sent to Paris Fashion Week. It’s not however glamorous when you’ve been given just a few hours to get there and you’re not exactly dressed for the occasion or able to speak the same language as your crew.

I’ve spent the past ten years working in television news. I was very fortunate to get my first job at ITV Central in Birmingham, one of the best regional news stations. It was a big step for someone straight out of a post-grad course in Broadcast Journalism at the Cardiff Journalism School.

So how did I break into the industry known to be one of the most cut-throat and competitive of them all?

Lesson number 2: sleep is for wimps; a life is something you can have another time.

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Guest Post – Charlotte Hawkins: TV journalism

This week – in a Hacks special – we look at a Wanna-‘be’ and a Wanna-‘been’ in the TV journalism industry. Our Wanna-‘be’ is Charlotte Hawkins, who blogs here and currently interns at the Discovery Channel…

Charlotte Hawkins

Just like some of the Wannabe Hacks I too graduated this year and am now trying my hand at breaking into journalism. In my case, however, it’s the TV journo industry that I want to crack.

When I first researched a career in television I came across several horror stories of wannabes being exploited through “work experience” schemes. I have indeed experienced this myself, to an extent. The majority of the professionals I have encountered have been lovely, but there’s nothing more infuriating than working for nothing for a month only to overhear on your last day that it’s me who should be thanking them with the cake.

Also – in spite of the placements I have managed to secure – I am still distinctly lacking in show-reel material. Having decided only recently on this career path I (regretfully) only got involved with my Uni TV station during my final year. Dissertations certainly hindered my participation.

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Dealing with application rejection

The much-clichéd “current economic climate” has really hit me hard recently. Not only has it left a gaping hole in my already-low bank balance but job opportunities have also been very few and far between…

Added to the misery is that fact that there are several hundred fellow graduates and wannabes all jostling and jumping for the same few jobs…

With such incredible competition, rejection is rife.

Job Hunting

Image courtesy of Robert S Donovan

Rejection is something that can manifest and affect us in many different ways. Some will brush it off like petty schoolyard banter and think nothing of it, whilst others will treat it as an injection of adrenaline – a spurring of enthusiasm to push ever higher. Unfortunately there are also those that it can truly crush, bringing on yet another give-up-and-go-home day or Ben & Jerry’s binge.

I was the victim of such rejection just yesterday and although I avoided raiding the freezer for my favourite two American ice-cream makers (I seem more inclined to build my own coffee coffin) it seemed that rejection was the one part of wannabe journalism that I hadn’t yet been advised how to approach

Often added as an afterthought to most how-to journo articles, the “be prepared to be rejected” is often followed by a “don’t worry” – but it’s perhaps a little more complicated than just that.

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Getting it on with multimedia: Audioboo style

(Direct Audioboo link here…)

Man speaking through meagphone

At Hacks we are always looking to practice what we preach – a couple of weeks ago we introduced our first podcast and today we are continuing our foray into the audio world with an Audioboo. The idea behind these shorter, more informal posts is to allow us to communicate some thoughts, ideas and insights to you in bite-size pieces. No doubt at some point you will hear the Chancer moan about the price of coffee on his patch or the Freelancer giving some impromptu pitching advice.

These ‘boos will be available from iTunes so you can get them on your iPods (or non Apple mp3 players… as you should be able to do with our podcast soon as well). This way you can have the Hacks at your side even when you don’t have access to the Internet.

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Guest Post – Joseph Stashko: three-year journo degrees

In another guest post special, Wannabe Hacks is delighted to introduce Joseph Stashko: a writer and blogger who likes online, student journalism and social media. He is currently working on several online projects and – this week – takes us through the ins and outs of straight three-year course in Journalism.

University is a daunting prospect for anyone.

Joe Stashko

Before you arrive fresh-faced at student halls there’s the question of what exactly you’re going to study. For those aspiring to a career in journalism, traditional subjects along the lines of English, History and Politics are typical of many in the industry. Despite new courses springing up frequently, the study of journalism itself has now been around for a long time. My course (BA Journalism) at the University of Central Lancashire has now been active for over 40 years, so it’s becoming a fairly well-worn path.

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Freelance Rules: know when to say ‘No’

The fact I’m writing this article at a little after midnight is certainly pertinent. You see, it has taken me all day to actually find enough freedom and clear headedness to write something engaging and interesting enough for Wannabe Hacks.

I began my day this morning at 8:30 with the email checkout: it is here that I am allocated and offered any freelance articles or pieces for the day. Today’s schedule: an Autumn/Winter accessory collection article for high-end luxury brands; interview preparation for a Michael Bastian press breakfast next week; six or seven eHow fashion and lifestyle articles; a few freelance pitches and a personal website piece. Here I am now.

Stack Of Work

I said “Yes” to all of them and now I’m paying for it.

If you are diving – as I am – into freelancing then you’d be foolish not to flutter and jump at the chance of ANY work. However, you should beware of being so eager.

Swamping your head with words and swimming in articles all day long is not particularly good for your health. It’s worse for your writing. Every freelance relationship (be that casual or professional) can be over in a matter of minutes. Simply fall off your game or write a shoddy piece and you’ve shot yourself in the foot – that foot in the door.

I’m tired and I’ve been struggling. My back aches from sitting in a poorly designed chair all day and my writing punch and prowess are all but tatters on this technical blogging screen. I should have said “No” to at least one thing today – given myself a chance to regroup and recuperate; picked it up tomorrow.

Instead I’m flying risk to the wind by producing a series of potentially sloppy pieces when I could have produced one or two mighty, career-defining signature articles.

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