Matt Sussman, Technorati Executive Editor
We've got some great ideas for you wherein you can become an expert in your field of expertise. There lies within the chambers of our mysterious website an untapped potential that many of you can and should harness. If any of you have ever said to yourself, "My topic of interest must not be wanted because there is no channel/category/place for it," well, you have the power to CREATE that community within Technorati.
I am, of course,
talking about feature columns, for example:
In case you didn't
know how to get a feature started, let's go over the three steps:
Step 1: Decide what your feature will cover.
Be very specific. Few will be very interested in a topic consisting of "my unique thoughts on the world around me," but if you were to focus on a series of, say, thoughts on reality TV or mobile technology, suddenly you've defined your territory. And don't try to bite off too much.
Say you want to write about "the media." Well, that's actually a very good idea, because bloggers have unwittingly become the watchdog of the fourth estate. But there is so much media out there, and you are but one mortal human! Try sizing it down to "political media" or "gaming media" or "celebrity/gossip media." Now it's a lot easier to digest.
Step 2: E-mail any editor with the following information:
1. The name of the feature
2. 100-word pitch/intro/mission statement. Speak in the present tense. What does this feature cover? Why are you particularly interested in this topic?
Step 3: Write under the feature with regularity.
The best way to build a community is to write as frequently as possible. Strive to write four or five days a week if you can - but volume should only be as much as you you can handle on a regular basis.
There are also collaborative features. The 12th Man, The Ballot, Social Goodness, and PerpPlexity are such examples; you really needn't do nothing more than write under these features and be proud of it. (If you don't have this listed under your "feature" pulldown, notify an editor and we will add you to it. Some of these features have specific criteria by which one must adhere.)
This may all be old information to you. But for those wishing to embark on their own feature -- or who have one and are still trying to get the most out of it -- here are some ways you can take it to the next level. They're all technically optional suggestions, but I would quite honestly recommend buying into as many as possible:
Suggestion 1: Network with other bloggers/writers of the same topic.
Say you're writing a feature about bicycling. Seek out other people on the Internet who are writing/blogging about bicycling. Add them as friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google, Flickr, Digg, StumbleUpon, or any other social media sites that you both frequent. And be sure to communicate with them. If you like what they write, include links to some of their bicycling posts in your articles. Better yet, interview them for a story. Like any other social setting, be vocal but don't come on too strong. E-mail them all and get a roundtable going for an upcoming article. (Ex: how many miles a day should one bike?)
Suggestion 2: Be original.
This is just a no-brainer when it comes to writing. Why summarize a Microsoft press release when this has probably been done quite several times already? Link to it instead. Don't waste your time reinventing the wheel; instead, write something new and unique that doesn't seem to be out there.
Suggestion 3: Promote your work.
Twitter. Facebook. Digg. StumbleUpon. Yahoo Buzz. Use some of these, all of these, or different ones altogether. It's anyone's cup of tea, but the secret to any promotion is to make it organic. Don't tweet if you don't use Twitter. Don't submit to Reddit if you don't know what you're doing. If you read Fark or Slashdot, and know the key to submitting articles there, then do it, because those aggregators have gatekeepers which control front page access, so they are priceless if done properly. There are dozens of how-tos for online news aggregator success available online.
Consider using Twitterfeed or dlvr.it to automatically tweet articles once they are published, since you may be "afk" when an editor gets to it. Facebook lets you syndicate some or all of your Twitter posts. Perhaps create a separate Twitter account or your own Facebook fan page. And finally: e-mail! Yes, e-mail is still a very useful tool. Consider e-mailing writers' or blogs' "tip lines." Compose the e-mail personally to them. And don't spam these people with everything you write. Do this in moderation, and don't take it personally they choose not to link back to you. But also don't be bashful: if you like something you've done, make it known.
Suggestion 4: Maintain sub-features.
The best example of this is Nicolas Lewis, whose series of posts called "Hope For the Future" rests within his larger hockey feature. It highlights the worst teams in the league and how they can get better. Note how each first paragraph is italicized boilerplate which explains what the sub-feature is about. The name of the sub-feature is in the headline, and you could even go as far as to tag the posts the same way.
Suggestion 5: Tag team.
Hey, speaking of
teams... For one person to try and cover everything about one topic can be a
lot to do for an individual with many other priorities in life. Are two of you
writing about Dancing With The Stars? Is there some reason you can't
share the work? Alternate the work; each week one person can do the recap/review,
and the other can go in-depth on different Dancing With The Stars topic.
If there aren't two of you writing about the same topic, perhaps invite other
bloggers or friends who haven't signed up to write that can join you in your
Suggestion 6: Localize stories.
Some of you may know what "localization" is in the newspaper industry. It's taking a national/global story and discussing how it will affect one's community. The Minot, North Dakota paper probably had a story about how will the health care bill affect Minot, North Dakota.
Now consider Technorati features to be pseudo-communities of their own. Suddenly there are more story ideas to be had. For example: the iPad. There were scads of stories about how this would affect not just the tech sector, but also that of education, reading, gaming, sports, cooking (it's like a virtual cookbook!), travel, TV ... there are just so many angles on this, and they weren't all done on tech blogs.
Suggestion 7: Have fun and be awesome.
You already know how to do this.
I'd love to see more people give these a shot and succeed with them. Writing ad hoc on a variety of topics can be time consuming and a little frustrating because it's hard for a high volume of readers to find only the articles which they'd like. "If you build it..." It can be a little daunting to shine on a website where hundreds of writers commune and OVER ONE MILLION users have an account, but this is the best method to carve out your own little community and shine not just on Technorati, but really make a name for yourself on the Internet. Sign up for a feature today. If you have any ideas for features, please share them in the hopes that other writers may want to help you with that.