#blogfest - Notes for Tallinn Blogfest 2009 - Joao Lopes Marques


Published on

Published in: Technology, Travel
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

#blogfest - Notes for Tallinn Blogfest 2009 - Joao Lopes Marques

  1. 1. Notes for Tallinn Blogfest 2009 www.tallinnblogfest.com My blogs, Twitter and I by João Lopes Marques http://joaolopesmarques.blogspot.com/ A) Proto-History • Well, I never liked blogs, especially being a printed media journalist. Still remember the day back in 2000 or 2001 when a well-known Portuguese author (Miguel Esteves Cardoso) told me this blogging thing would be "The Future"... • Anyway, I resisted till my friend José Santos, nowadays in Skype, made me think about the concept of passive income. • A year ago I made a serious experiment. I had heard about Ad Sense, by Google, and how to monetize online my content. Well, it was a total flop! This AdSense pays a couple of beers, nobody clicks on this Internet ads... I was quite passive, it is true, but I earned nothing more than 27 dollars in six months. • I eventually gave up. B) Twitter era • The Revelation (or Revolution) came the day I broke a leg... Being stuck home for almost eight weeks, I started reading about these thesis again. By the same time a friend sent me to my Gmail account an invitation for something called "Twitter". I found the design awful and childish, but I joined anyway. • The very same month, while reading online news from Portugal, I had the chance to laugh: a famous Portuguese newswoman (Alberta Marques Fernandes) had posted a twitt during the TV news emission... Seemed she was dying for an hamburger... Ten minutes later, and RTP was broadcasting live, somebody delivered it on the TV studio. • As you can imagine, Twitter became something in Portugal overnight. • More and more curious about this new mini-blogging network and with lots of time in my life, I decided to give it a chance. 1
  2. 2. C) Crossing the desert • People follow what they can easily understand, and Twitter was more than simple. Seemed even stupid to me. If I never liked to chat online I barely could see myself doing it with hundreds of people I don't know and at the same time. But I decided to jump, anyway. • Yet after I passed the barrier of 1000 followers I started having nice surprises... Seemed to me I was going massive with a personal-human flavour... o Suddenly, readers started asking me questions about my books and my articles in Portuguese media and Eesti Ekspress (yes, I became a kind of "hermeneutic call center") o They were giving me hints about the places I was visiting and offered me convenient sofas to rest (Genova in April, for instance) o I found the selection of content in my network was brilliant (more than newspapers, in the web we tend to read texts, either news or not) o It allowed me to sense the Zeitgeist in specific regions (especially in my country) o By the interaction and comments, I also understood much better who is who in my broad target o I could easily divert traffic to my links either in the mass media or in my personal blog (Circo Vicioso) o I got easily in touch with my corporations (journalists, publishers, writers, film makers, etc.) o My motivation boosted as well, needless to say: nothing better than a reader to massage daily your ego. D) My-Twitter-Facebook-Blog system • The main problem so far? My productivity lowered dramatically... I was suddenly working in a different paradigm, but no direct money there yet. • But the surprises continued: suddenly my followers started twitting me they were buying my books "O Homem que queria ser Lindbergh" and "Terra Java". Almost once a day. They even report where the books are sold out and how many are left in specific bookstores. If they are on display or in a hidden shelf. 2
  3. 3. • More importantly, their daily feedback makes me reflect second time on my creations: as if I have a real-time focus group... Nowadays I know exactly the parts of my book they like better or that they believe are a little bit confusing... • I can even try a joke, or a magic quote, before I write it on the paper: if the reaction is massive and there are lots of retwitts, that is a very encouraging sign... F) New routine... Or ritual? • I had to accommodate myself to a sort of routine... Unavoidable. But I prefer call it a daily/weekly ritual instead. I do it with pleasure, since the results seem extremely concrete. • I complement this blogging-mini-blogging with Facebook, though I don't love it (I prefer to keep it as post-modern Yellow Pages). • In my opinion, the secret of Twitter is its resilience. It is like a car, you can use it for several purposes (to get to work, for a road trip, to impress the girlfriend, to race, etc.). I decided to use it as if it was my own online newspaper. I am more active than reactive: o Entertaining people (videos, jokes, quotes) o Helping people (sharing is caring) o Informing people (my original selection of news) o Promoting myself (projects, books, chronicles, reportage) • There is a basic principle, though. You can market yourself, but first try to give something. This is the trade-off. • By consulting Google Analytics I can see I've passed from 6 or 7 visitors per day in January to 150 average today. And using the tools just one hour and half per day... • People are extremely adaptable and this can be the tipping point of a wider revolution: I even doubt if the novel I am finishing now suits best in the paper or if the free tools I have now are more than enough... o With the global downturn bookstores and literary markets bottleneck more and more... The publishers bet on they know (or guess) will sell best. Or first. o Digital books are ubiquitous and much cheaper... o I can command my own promotional strategies, not depending on the publisher's mood... o I could reach iPhone and Kindle devices, for instance. 3
  4. 4. o Instead of earning 10% or 12% of copyright of my creation, I would probably fivefold this amount. • Well, scenarios... G) Playing solo • I am a freelancer since February 2002, and so far I have survived as a independent author and journalist. I would like to keep this way of live forever... Not easy these days. Nevertheless, this blogging and mini-blogging tools give me hope. • Emancipation? It is too early to sing victory. None online business model has consolidated yet. The next five years can be amazing: once again, never forget the human being is extremely adaptable... • It's true that the culture of gratuity is crystallizing, but remind readers like to gratify the author, especially when they can trick the middleman. • I am also very curious about the impact of book-trailers, something you can lodge in YouTube, for instance, and promote everyday among your potential audience. • Besides that, I believe in the power of new maecenas: from big companies to individuals who want to sponsor a specific creation. Somehow they will be proud they can make happen something they believe in. • The industry is nervous, indeed: o Publishers like Lulu.com are making their way. o When days ago I shared with my Portuguese editor I was admitting going solo he replied me: "To set up a publishing house is easy... but what about distribution? The secret is there and you need lots of power." o Google's digitizing policies are also a mini-earthquake in this industry... Let's hope it is a benign one. • Sometimes I think: if with only 6000 followers things changed so fast in less than a year, I can't imagine with some 60,000 followers... • On top, electronic payments, as Paypal, make transactions quite simple and direct. H) Dignity of the creation 4
  5. 5. • Like one of greatest inventors of all time, Archimedes of Syracuse, used to say, or would say if he was alive: "Give a link and I will lift the World." • It's true these can be great times to be an author and independent journalist. I feel somehow excited. But this is also dangerous: we authors can never forget the essential. What is it? The creation and its own dignity, hopefully with more than 140 characters. • Yes, dignity: in spite of the vehicle we use, that must be always the ultimate challenge. 5