Cristian Mihai on Growing Your Blog and Building a Readership

Originally posted on The Daily Post:

Cristian Mihai

From the feedback we receive, we know that growth and traffic are important to you, and that you’re interested in ways to grow your blog and build your readership. Today, we’re excited to chat with Cristian Mihai, a twenty-two-year old writer based in Romania, who has built a large community around his popular blog at cristianmihai.net.

Cristian writes primarily literary fiction and has published books like The Writer, which experiments with magical realism, and Jazz, a novel about ambition and deception. He launched his site in April 2012, and to date has 54,000 followers and counting. As you poke around on his blog, you’ll find short stories and essays in addition to posts, and get the sense of a prolific writer who is passionate about storytelling and curious about the human condition.

We’re glad to chat with him about his approach to blogging and promoting his…

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Germany’s World Cup triumph a victory for intelligent design | Barney Ronay | Football | The Guardian

Germany’s World Cup triumph a victory for intelligent design | Barney Ronay | Football | The Guardian.

Germany’s World Cup triumph a victory for intelligent design

The diligence of the country’s rebuilding of its football structure found fitting reward in Mario Götze’s winning goal

 

Germany v Argentina
Germany celebrate their World Cup triumph after the extra-time success over Argentina in Brazil. Photograph: Sipa/Rex

Oh, Germany. You left it horribly late. But then, after 24 years, €1bn invested and several half-cut new dawns along the away, you were always likely to. Welcome to the footballing future. Not only does Europe now have its first champions on South American soil; it also has the most European of all European champions: a sporting triumph of controlled, superbly engineered uber-Europeanism applauded at the end by both Angela Merkel and Michel Platini inside the portable corporate mega-drome that was once the distinctively Brazilian Maracanã.

This was an absorbing, if not quite free-flowing final in which Argentina played with great heart and tactical intelligence, breaking from deep and making enough chances to win the game in normal time. Indeed, as the match crawled through an increasingly fretful second period there was a dawning sense that this simply was not meant to be for Germany, who had seemed anxious at first and enervated at times later on.

There is a depth to this German squad, though, not just of resolve but of high-class attacking talent. What a goal Mario Götze’s winner was when it came, from a player who had been a genuine menace with his subtle passing and swaying, roly-poly lateral movement ever since his introduction as a late substitute. There is evidence even here of Germany’s wealth of talent: the substitute who scored the winning goal in the World Cup final also happens to be a £31m Bayern Munich player, a wonderfully talented No10 who has often found himself crowded to the fringes by the weight of competition in his position.

The finish itself also told a story in miniature. Aged 22, Götze is a product from boyhood of the modern German academy system. His habits are those of the Deutscher Fussball-Bund’s supremely successful coaching programmes, a player who fits not just the technical requirements but the favoured physical type, a short, scurrying, perfectly balanced rubber ball of an inside forward. As André Schürrle’s cross came from the left Götze produced two expert touches. The first on his chest was superbly cushioned, his body angled to drop the ball without breaking stride. The second saw the ball nudged with loving precision across Sergio Romero and into the corner.

If it felt a little like a training-pitch goal, then this was also oddly appropriate, as was the goal’s resemblance to Andrés Iniestas’ winner in the final in 2010. Both goals came from a well-executed finish across the goalkeeper, Iniesta’s in the 116th minute, Götze’s three minutes earlier here. Both were are also products of the kind of hard-won technical skill that looks less and less like luck and more and more like a heavily resourced, intelligently geared sporting system coming to deserved fruition.

At the final whistle Germany’s substitutes rushed on to the Maracanã pitch waving their arms above their heads in shock that tells a great deal about the spirit of this team, the magnitude of the moment and also perhaps just a little bit about the wider pressures of Germany’s position coming into this tournament. Certainly Jogi Löw’s expression at the final whistle was something close to blissful disbelief, Germany’s manager strolling the fringes of the pitch, grinning goofily and looking slightly wild in a moment of triumph that has been eight years and a great deal of wearing expectation in the making.

It has been possible to feel a little sorry for Löw, for all his genius manqué stylings – the polo necks, the highfalutin chat, the attitude, if not before now the medals of a genius. But there is a burden too in being tasked with transforming such concerted, systemic investment into victory on the pitch. Löw has lifted that now. Part of the national structure for a decade, he will feel not just vindicated but overwhelmingly relieved too.

Victory here was always likely to be presented as a triumph of that frictionless German system, and indeed it makes complete sense that Germany should win the World Cup. This is the most perfectly calibrated, most relentlessly first-world system for producing high-class footballers yet devised, a piece of intelligent design that has now flowered to its logical end point.

There is as always a very obvious lesson here for the mismatched Premier League-FA shemozzle that governs English football. If you build it – and spend €1bn on enlightened facilities – they will come. And so they have. Of this current squad 14 players, including the top goalscorer (Thomas Müller) and overall midfielder of the tournament (Toni Kroos) were all under-13 or younger when the DFB reorganised German football. Germany’s top tier has put the bottom line to one side, invested with speculative good sense and ended up hugely in credit. What riches!

And yet despite scooting through to this final on a surge of attacking success Germany found themselves caught up in a tight, gristly but still absorbing match. As the match kicked off on a lovely sunny Rio afternoon there was the thrilling spectacle of Argentina’s fans inside this open, shallow-tiered giant seashell of a stadium singing that great bouncing sing-along of a national anthem but the early pattern was clear: Germany took possession while Argentina broke swiftly when they could, pressing four times with purpose in the first half down Germany’s left. One thing was clear: Argentina were not afraid, as Brazil had apparently been terrified, of this fluid, feather-footed footballing superpower-in-the-making. And yet it seemed inevitable, logical, even a little irresistible that Germany should triumph: and fitting, too, it should come with a show of strength in depth.

Germany’s previous World Cup victories have all had something era-defining about them. In 1954 West Germany were still a middleweight football power prior to a final against Hungary that was decided by Helmut Rahn’s late goal, and captured in the famous, near-delirious commentary (“Tor! … Tor für Deutchsland!”). Twenty years later victory for the great team of Gerd Müller, Paul Breitner and Franz Beckenbauer was the first of an astonishing run of finals over the next 16 years. The 1990 victory against Argentina arrived with a sense of an emerging Germany on the verge of a more substantial dynasty. Or not as it turned out: the intervening 24 years have seen one European Championship win and a generational retrenchment.

This was an utterly merited World Cup victory, reward for the entire spectrum of German football, from clubs to football association, players to coaches. The challenge for the rest of the world is to interrupt the next entirely logical step – which is many more of the same from here.

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Posted in Soccer, Sports

Flying Flower

Originally posted on Photo Nature Blog:

ButterflyBeauty

Butterfly_On_Leaf

Photos Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

Photographing butterflies has always been a fun and interesting experience. I was happy to get detailed photos of these two.    “The butterfly is a flying flower, The flower a tethered butterfly.” French lyric poet ― Ponce Denis Écouchard Lebrun

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37 Books Every Creative Person Should Be Reading

37 Books Every Creative Person Should Be Reading.

Making things is hard. Here are some books to inspire and invigorate you. posted on June 18, 2014, at 6:00 p.m.

 

1. The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp

The Creative Habit , by Twyla Tharp

nainasingla / Via instagram.com

“I read for growth, firmly believing that what you are today and what you will be in five years depends on two things: the people you meet and the books you read.”

2. Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking Fast and Slow , by Daniel Kahneman

fremtidsnostalgi / Via instagram.com

“The confidence that individuals have in their beliefs depends mostly on the quality of the story they can tell about what they see, even if they see little.”

3. Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird , Anne Lamott

lrund / Via instagram.com

“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”

4. Steal Like An Artist, by Austin Kleon

Steal Like An Artist , by Austin Kleon

aklilizack / Via instagram.com

“If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.”

5. Manage Your Day-to-Day, by Jocelyn K. Glei

Manage Your Day-to-Day , by Jocelyn K. Glei

mgboudoir / Via instagram.com

“Like it or not, we are constantly forced to juggle tasks and battle unwanted distractions—to truly set ourselves apart, we must learn to be creative amidst chaos.”

(…)

 

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Posted in Books, Creativity, Inspiration, Reading

Use Images Not Just Words to Turn Your Distracted Visitors into Engaged Readers – Copyblogger

Use Images Not Just Words to Turn Your Distracted Visitors into Engaged Readers – Copyblogger.

Use Images (Not Just Words) to Turn Your Distracted Visitors into Engaged Readers

 

woman taking iPhone photo

 

If you have kids — or if you’ve ever been around kids — you’ve heard the sound before.

 

It’s a noise that’s somewhere between the cry of a lost wolf cub and the wail of a nearby car alarm. It’s one of the most annoying sounds you’ll ever hear.

 

It’s the ear-piercing cry of a child who has been over-stimulated.

 

The angelic child becomes a hot mess of whiny, clingy neediness.

 

If you’re the adult in charge and you manage to keep a cool head, you say something like, “Calm down. I don’t understand what you need. Use your words.”

 

And sometimes it works. It stops children long enough to engage their brains rather than just their emotions, and they are able to communicate what they need.

 

As consumers of information online, we’re a little like that over-stimulated child.

 

But as producers of online content, one of the worst things we can do is throw more words at our readers. Because the best way to reach an over-stimulated population is to offer something different. How do we do that?

 

I propose you offer an image.

 

We are visual people

 

More than half the surface of the brain is reserved for processing visual information.

 

With that much brain power behind understanding visuals, it makes sense to harness the power of images to communicate our messages.

 

Besides, we all know we’re drowning in words.

 

So. Much. Content.

 

Not. Enough. Time.

 

Fortunately, images are processed in a different part of our brains than words. Using them gives the over-stimulated, word-crunching parts of our brains a break. And images will help your carefully crafted words attract and hold attention and have more impact.

 

Harness the power of images

 

We’re living in an amazing time for people with the courage to learn new skills online. There are tools and resources available to all of us — many of them free — that would have been unimaginable 10 years ago.

 

Let’s review some of our options when it comes to image creation, starting with the pure DIY track.

 

Make your own images
Most of us are walking around with powerful cameras right on our phones.

 

You may feel like you’re not a competent photographer, but consistently using a service like Instagram can increase your confidence.

 

Instagram’s square format forces you to focus on the most important elements in your viewfinder, and the easy-to-apply effects make even ordinary photos more interesting.

 

A content marketing bonus? You can set up your account so it posts to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook all at once. That’s what I call social media efficiency.

 

When looking for images to use in your blog posts and email marketing, think beyond images with people. Focus on showing the telling details instead.

 

For example, zoom in on the tools you use to do your work, whether they’re machines, computers, paintbrushes, or a big stack of books. Let viewers into your world by sharing close-ups from your environment.

 

Enlist stock photos
Stock photo sites are pretty amazing. I still remember the days when stock photo catalogs would arrive at the design studio where I worked in the early days of my career. They were bulky, unwieldy, and printed on paper. (Can you imagine?)

 

Plus, those stock photos each cost several hundred dollars, and the exact prices depended on how you would use the images. Once you received an image, which came in slide form, you had to pay to have it scanned and converted so you could use it in print.

 

Now, we have access to thousands of searchable, inexpensive stock images on sites such as:

 

 

And there are plenty of free stock image sites, too. Here are a few of my favorites:

 

 

 

To use photos from these sites for business purposes, be sure to review and respect any licenses associated with the images. And steer clear of the obvious, overused images and lame visual clichés.

 

Modify images with easy-to-use online tools
Unless you purchase exclusive rights to a stock image, you won’t be the only person using it.

 

The solution? Modify the image — add a filter, crop it creatively, or add text to it. My favorite sites for editing images are:

 

 

Remember, you want your image to be easy to “read” visually. Use filters that enhance, not obliterate, the original image.

 

If you decide to add text, use a clear, high-contrast font so the message can be read and understood in a single glance.

 

Dig into Flickr’s Creative Commons
Flickr has a deep well of images by photographers who’ve agreed to share their photos on a Creative Commons license. You’ll notice you see many Flickr images on Copyblogger. They take longer to find, but if you take the time they often bring a creativity that can be hard to find on the stock sites.

 

Searching Flickr by “Creative Commons” allows you to look through photos with a variety of licenses that allow you to share, adapt, or even use for commercial purposes. Be sure you understand what rights you have — and don’t have — for a given image. The broadest license is “Attribution Only,” which needs only credit and a link to the creator.

 

Keep in mind that it it takes time to find the great photos in the sea of amateur images. Copyblogger likes to build relationships with exceptional photographers on Flickr, in some cases even those who retain copyright of their work. The photographer gets a wider audience, and Copyblogger gets fantastic images. It’s a win-win.

 

Lead with an image

 

Our brains also process images faster than words.

 

Way faster.

 

Visual information is processed 60,000 times faster than text.

 

Images at the top of blog posts work so well because they make an immediate impact and open the door to the rest of the information you present.

 

When you choose your image carefully, it can add shades of meaning to your content.

 

Look for images beyond typical stock photo fare. Avoid overly posed and polished images that feature professional models. Aim to find images that feature everyday people.

 

Avoid the obvious, and go for subtlety.

 

Get radical: consider only using images

 

Sometimes, an image can stand alone– whether it’s on your blog or social media.

 

Take, for example, this popular infographic here on Copyblogger: 11 Essential Ingredients Every Blog Post Needs.

 

It’s strongly visual content (paired, of course, with some well-chosen words), and as of this writing it has been shared more than 3,000 times on Twitter.

 

If you want to stretch this idea a bit, video is another format for sharing compelling content.

 

Think outside the word box

 

The next time you need a direct line to the inside of your prospects’ brains, consider an image.

 

If you’d like to chat more about how to use images to communicate your message, click over to Google+, and we’ll compare notes there.

 

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Posted in Images, Photography, Reading

Transparent Butterfly in a Parallel Universe

Originally posted on Photo Nature Blog:

Butterfly_Parallel_Universe

Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

I found this Transparent Winged Butterfly resting on a glass panel, its reflections hinting at a parallel reality. An ancient Chinese quote came to mind… Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, a veritable butterfly, enjoying itself to the full of its bent, and not knowing it was Chuang Chou. Suddenly I awoke, and came to myself, the veritable Chuang Chou. Now I do not know whether it was then I dreamt I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man. Between me and the butterfly there must be a difference. This is an instance of transformation.  – Chinese Philosopher Zhūangzi (c. 369 BC – c. 286 BC)

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Book marketing | 151 must visit writing websites

Book marketing | 151 must visit writing websites.

151 must visit writing websites

library

While there are some excellent books on writing, the web is also filled with terrific sites on the topic. Here are 151 of the very best, and they’re organised for you by subject and genre. (…)

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Posted in Writing
Watson Wolf

Watson Wolf

It's all learning and teaching to me!!! I am a German tutor for German, English and French, who loves tutoring person to person!!! In addition I love writing, sports, social media and the Greek island Crete, my second home!!!

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