The shockingly simple secret: 10 ways to write 18 lists of 12

10waysPeople love to read lists, it’s a scientific fact!

Do you want to grab your share of those potential eyeballs? Use these top secret SEO tricks to send your clickrates through the roof and boost your content to the top of the first SERP! Just follow these shockingly simple steps:

1

Find a hot, trending or controversial topic. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, but if you can find something that is hot and trending and controversial, all the better. Throw divisive on top and you’ve just hit a grand slam! Round the bases and bring ‘em all home! But not before completing the next nine steps!

2

Pick a number. Remember that number (this is important!).

3

Type the hot, trending, controversial topic into Google or Bing.

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4

Click some of the results. Now comes the hard part: cut a number of items from your search results and paste them into your favorite CCT (content creation tool). How many? The same number that you picked (and hopefully remembered!) in step 2. This will be your research.

5

Go to your CCT and consecutively number and slightly change some of the research. Add a few words of your own (important!) and wherever possible, reformat the research into question form. The more questions your content poses, the more engagement (and traffic!) you will realize! Make sure each numbered section is short, no more than three lines. Leave your reader wanting more and they will come back for more™!

6

Asian-Woman-Laptop-Computer-872693Type the hot, trending, controversial topic into Google or Bing again, but this time, click “images” in the results. Copy no less than three and no more than five of the images you find. Usually you will want to find images that make obvious reference to your content. But here’s a secret: you can also choose images featuring young, attractive people doing things somewhat related to your content. They don’t have to be doing things exactly related to your content. But whatever images you choose, they should have a lot of large patches of bold color, like grass or flags.

7

Insert the images into your content. Wherever possible, insert a very large image that will break up the list. This will make your content more engaging and sticky.

The questionnaire

8

Choose a title for your content. This step is also very important. Your title should begin with the number from step 2 (I hope you still remember it!), followed by “ways,” “easy steps,” “unbelievable,” “tricks,” “shocking,” or “low-fat.” Fill out the rest of the title with keywords related to your hot, trending, controversial topic.

9

13319207-illustration-of-a-young-woman-working-on-computer-with-the-american-flag-in-the-backgroundPublish your content on a popular blog or news site that gets tons of traffic. Then link to it from no fewer than three separate accounts on the following services (in this order!); Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, Vimeo, LinkedIn, MySpace, Friendster, and SlideShare. Repost the links from your three separate accounts every three hours for three days. And do I need to say it? Hashtag! Hashtag! Hashtag!

10

Sit back and bathe in the tsunami of clicks that are headed your way!

If you found these tips useful, please download my latest FREE ebook, Back Up The Brinks Truck In Preparation For The Boatload Of Six-Lane High-Volume Traffic That’s About To Bury You In An Avalanche Of Riches! 


The Holstee Manifesto, or; If you have to tell me how cool you are, you aren’t cool

Have you seen “The Holstee Manifesto”?

8

Holstee is a company – oh, sorry, I mean a group of “cyclists, illustrators, surfers, builders, yogis, pizza-lovers, climbers, and creators” – who sell $36 posters (plus $10.54 shipping) and $4 dollar a pop inspirational/aspirational note cards (six to a pack, $10.54 shipping).

So if you need, say, a big green number eight for your wall, and you have $50 in your budget for big green numbers, they can hook you up.

Some might look at the big numbers and say that whoever dreamed up such a thing has done enough for the world. That anyone who has accomplished such a wonderful thing could justifiably rest on their laurels forevermore. But Holstee are creators, yo (as they will tell you over and over and over), so they didn’t stop there.

They have also perfectly encapsulated the misguided selfishness and cluelessness of a very large group of young people into a neat, ready-to-frame package. They call the package The Holstee Manifesto, and they sell it without even a hint of the irony that so many mistake for sophistication these days.

The “manifesto” is unintentionally entertaining, more than a little desperate and pathetic, and very 21st century douchebag. I say “douchebag” because that’s what we used to call them. Now they’re called “hipsters,” among other things, but a rose is a rose is a rose, as Gandhi said (according to Facebook).

Here it is. Get ready, it’s going to change your life!

asshole-manifesto

Allow me to summarize:

Eat.
Passion.
Travel.
Passion.
Only do things you like to do.
Passion.
Quit your job.
Passion.

It’s like a compact narcissism-by-the-numbers handbook.

I should probably make a distinction here and point out that I’m not taking issue with the industrial design that’s been going on around us for decades. In fact I have always been a fan of well designed, quality products. I seek out simple, classic, well made things that I plan to keep for a long time. We used to call those “good things.” We used them for their intended purposes and appreciated them, but stopped short of worshiping them as totems.

I should also say that Holstee aren’t the only ones cynically pushing the “you are the center of the known universe” agenda onto a willing audience of self-obsessed goobers. They probably aren’t even the worst offenders. But they have certainly hit a nerve in their target audience with the “manifesto,” and consequently it’s propagated across the web like an unstoppable, rectangular Kudzu vine.

You see, there is a cult of DESIGN out there. They are young, relatively well off (for their age group anyway), and so obnoxiously pleased with themselves that you want to kick their asses just on principle. They buy $150 hardwood-encased chargers for their iPhones, bluetooth-enabled ice cube trays and $400 “upcycled” bags made out of old two liter soda bottles because they are “great design.”

Depending on where you live, you may find them riding around your city on expensive bikes and sporting oversize, ugly eyeglasses, full beards and faux vintage dresses (not usually a beard and a dress on the same person, of course, but maybe, sometimes, because that would be so ironic). In another city they may be wearing skinny Mad Men suits and drinking $24 cocktails at a bar in a basement or on top of the tallest building in town. The costumes may be different, but they can all say things like, “if you don’t like your job, quit,” with a straight face because they live with their parents, and hey, another design (or barista) job is like, so easy to get.

They worship something they understand as creativity. But they worship a false god, because none of them are creative. They are a sticky human tsunami of followers. Endless pastures of identical sheep churning out mountains of useless, expensive, trendy shit that will fill closets, storage units and landfills for decades to come.

They fetishize DESIGN the same way they have fetishized letterpress printing, cassette tapes, mustaches and virtually everything else they touch. They “create” the same things over and over, none of it new. They have yet to come up with a new form of music, art, writing, film or even television (which they only watch on their phones, while Tweeting about the latest Pantone swatch books). Everything is a variation of something else. Like a mirror facing another mirror.

They are impotent and disposable, yet they believe that they are saving the world. With DESIGN. If you think I’m kidding or exaggerating, just ask one of them. They’ll be happy to tell you over a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon (another fetish item they didn’t create).

The inspirational/aspirational aspect that is on display at places like Holstee permeates the work of these young designers. They love designing things that talk about DESIGN. Clumsily worded calls to be creative and follow your passion. Duck calls on the shore of a polluted lake.

They don’t realize that there is a fundamental, universal truth about all truly creative people, and that is they are driven to create. It isn’t something they do, it is who they are. They don’t need inspiration and encouragement propped up in front of them on a $4 note card. That fact escapes most of the current crop of DESIGN cultists because they never met a truly creative person. You don’t typically run into them at the DESIGN schools that are frantically churning out DESIGN graduates by the busload.

f1Not so long ago, families that wanted a better life for their children encouraged them to study to become doctors and lawyers. Well paying, well respected (okay, doctors anyway) jobs. That kind of aspiration is understandable considering the kinds of work most people had to do just to survive.

But it was also short sighted, because ultimately those aspirations resulted in what we have today; thousands of newly minted lawyers every year who can’t even find unpaid intern work. Because no one stopped to think, hey, maybe we don’t need two lawyers for ever person in America.

This new generation of design-obsessed world-savers are on the very same path. The only difference is they’ll be obsolete much more quickly than the surplus doctors and lawyers. And since they’ve trained themselves to believe that their passions and creativity and ugly self-interest are all that matter, they are going to be ill equipped to do anything else. Anything that matters.

At this particular moment in history they are thriving in a self-perpetuating ecosystem. They hire each other for DESIGN jobs where they manufacture expensive, useless trinkets to sell to each other. But when the design jobs start to go away (and it’s not too early to begin that countdown) who will the remaining designers sell to?

Their expensive, kooky, inspirational trinkets are going to seem callow and unnecessary, which in reality, they always were. They will have spent their careers following their passions and not learning how to make anything people really need. They are going to be fucked, as we used to say. And it’s going to be difficult to work up a tear for them.

Hip hip hoorayThey remind me of the hippies of the late 60s. The hippies believed that if everyone just  got high, fucked each other and listened to music all day, the world would change for the better. We would live in a shanrgri-la of peace and grooviness. The notion that someone, or some group of people, needed to maybe not be high and actually work somewhere in order to keep it all going didn’t occur to them. I guess they thought that grooviness alone would keep the buses running and the sewers flowing.

The cult of design are the hippies of the 21st century because DESIGN in and of itself is not useful to anyone. It doesn’t keep the sewers flowing, if ya dig. They are living in an unsustainable bubble of self-satisfaction and the only thing that makes them different from the hippies is their insatiable consumption of objects. Differences aside, that self-satisfaction and tunnel vision can only end one way. Ask the hippies.

How many designers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? No one knows, because when you ask them to change a lightbulb, all they can do is create a poster about the evolution of lightbulb design.

Which would be funny if it wasn’t true.


You gotta stomp, baby!

You probably know a guitar player. They are everywhere, like ants or citrus fungus. You can’t stretch your legs without kicking a guitar player. If that guitar player plays an electric guitar, odds are they have at least one effects pedal (and if they have one they probably have half a dozen). Guitarists call these effects stomp boxes, because they sit on the floor and you, well, stomp on them to turn them on and off.

pedals

The first stomp box was a tremolo unit made by DeArmond in the 1940s(!), an effect that makes the guitar sound seem to wobble or vibrate. That was enough to blow people’s minds for a couple of decades, but eventually the market was flooded with more. A lot more. Wah pedals, fuzz boxes, boosters, delays – a veritable avalanche of different things to change the sound of the guitar. These things sprouted up because guitar players apparently can’t stand the naked sound of their instruments.

Okay, that’s not exactly true. The effects were created because musicians are a strange lot, always in search of some sort of new sound, always looking for a way to stand out and make their audience say, “Whoa, what the hell is that?

In the early days of effect pedals, there were only a few things available. Tremolo, wah, reverb and different forms of distortion or fuzz. Those sounds ruled the roost in the 60s, so much so that tremolo and reverb were built in to a lot of the amplifiers of the era. Many different companies made each of the devices, so you could see essentially the same wah pedal from Vox, Colorsound, Marshall, Crybaby, and half a dozen weird little short-lived brands.

In the 70s a new generation of modulation effects came onto the scene. Things like choruses, phasers and flangers. The 80s brought digital technology, but not much in the way of further sound manipulation. Mainly because the early analog stuff pretty much covered everything you can do to the sound of a guitar, short of making it sound like something that isn’t a guitar.

The ugly rise of the boutique

So while there were a lot of brand names in the very early days of the effects manufacturing business, over time the field came to be dominated by a small handful of companies. For that reason, when you heard a guitarist assaulting you with some new sound, you could look at his pedal set up know immediately who made the box. In fact you could see a picture of a guitarist’s set up and just by knowing a few basic shapes and colors, you could pretty much name everything they were using.

Then came the Internet, as it always does. The ability to sell a product directly to a customer changed a lot of industries, but it really changed the effect pedal market.

If you look around now there are dozens of small pedal makers, and hundreds – or perhaps thousands – of effects available. Of course they all need to distinguish themselves somehow visually, so they all have different designs and configurations, with some pedal makers even slightly varying the visual design of a single pedal every time they make one.

As a result of all of that creativity, you can look at someone’s pedal board now and not have any idea what any of their shit is. I’m guilty of it myself, since I built a few of the pedals I use and finished them in obscure ways that don’t tell you anything about what the box does.

pedalboards

The yellow one there, for example, is an envelope filter (an “auto wah”) that features a drawing of a bunch of ants walking onto a plant. Unless I told you what it did, you’d have no way of knowing. Still, aside from the few boxes I built, any random guitar player off the street could likely identify everything else I’m using.

The funny thing about all of this, and the thing that made me want to write this article that is boring the pants off of you right now, is that of all of the hundreds of “boutique” pedals out there today, all of them do the same four or five things. And most of them are built around circuits that were developed in the 60s and 70s.

Look at this fancy pedal board, for example:

pboard

Looks like you could fly the space shuttle with this fucker, doesn’t it. But you know what all of that stuff is? Overdrive, fuzz, delay, reverb, chorus, flanger.

That’s it.

But it sure looks cool. And as an added bonus, each one of those boutique versions of the old classics costs more than the old classic itself! Winning!

It’s all more than a little ridiculous, since you can still get your grubby little picking fingers on the original pedals that do the same thing (and usually do it better) thanks to our pal the Internet.

But for some reason a lot of people who are drawn to the guitar are also tinkerers, and a lot of tinkerers like to “improve” things once they figure out how they work. Which is why there are forums full of people talking about how much better their amplifier sounds since they put in different tubes or replaced all of the capacitors with gilded fruit fly wings.

That’s all well and good, and cool even. That’s how advances are made and things are shaken up. I just wish some of these basement pedal builders – I’m sorry, boutique pedal builders – would put as much energy into creating something new as they do into building yet another Tube Screamer-based overdrive, putting it into a different colored box and calling it a day.

I guess what it boils down to is it’s pretty easy to solder up an overdrive, but it’s a lot more challenging to design and build something like a ring modulator (now that thing sounds insane). But maybe something will come out of one of those basements one day that makes everyone stand up and say, “whoa!”

And that will be cool.


Oh, did you say something?

Well, this is funny.

Maybe funnier than his super-sleuthing is the fact that I didn’t even notice it for seven months. How sad to plot out such a devastating zing and have it met with silence. Nothing but Twitter crickets.

Imagine a life where you don’t like a random Internet comment somewhere, so you “track down” the commenter and use your pasty little manicured thumbs to type out not one, but two Tweets on your little iPhone. Imagine giggling at how clever and naughty you are, and how you sure taught that rude commenter a lesson.

Just imagine.

It’s almost as pathetic as writing a blog post about it.


It’s for you…it’s the future calling

Phone

I retired my HTC Android space phone after using it for a year. It did a lot of cool things. A lot of cool, unnecessary things. And it cost a lot of money. Money that was ultimately wasted because I never used any of those cool, unnecessary things.

I mean, not never. I did use two apps quite a bit. The Chase bank app for depositing checks, and the Fresh and Easy coupon app (because that’s where 99% of our food comes from). So the question was, is it worth a thousand dollars a year to deposit a check once a month and to avoid printing out some coupons?

It was a rhetorical question, since only an idiot would pay a thousand dollars a year for those two services. But that is, more or less, what I was doing.

Okay, so there were more than two apps on the phone. There were dozens. I could read my email, there was a Facebook application I couldn’t remove (I don’t use Facebook), I could Tweet (I do that) – in fact, I could Tweet from my own account and three different work accounts. I could write a god damned blog post for four different blogs, all from apps on the phone.

But I didn’t. Because who would want to write a blog post on a telephone touch screen? Again, rhetorical. The fact was I didn’t like doing anything on the touch screen. Typing was ridiculously slow and frustrating, so even writing and sending a text message or one of my stunningly genius Tweets was nothing short of torture.

I get it, you kids type with your thumbs. Good for you. You also listen to shitty music and dress funny, so it is not necessarily my life’s ambition to be more like you.

If I have a life’s ambition at this point, it’s to be less connected.

I was a very early adopter of the world wide web (that’s what we called it back then, back when FTW meant something quite different than it does now), and I’ve been on it, around it, underneath it and making a living from it ever since. Consequently, if I’m awake, I’m usually not more than ten feet from a computer. So the last thing I need – or want – is a computer in my pocket.

SpacePhones

I didn’t even want a cell phone, really. But if you think about he miracle that is the cell phone, you’d be a fool not to have one. If only for emergencies or to have in your car. The things are truly revolutionary. For someone who grew up (and lived well into their 40s) without one, a basic cell phone is nothing short of magic.

When I was in my 20s I spent a lot of time as a touring musician rolling around America (and other countries) in vans, looking for venues and people, and the only way to find them or connect with them was through pay phones. Which meant an eternal scrounge for dimes and quarters or working one improbable (and illegal) scheme or another, all to make simple telephone calls. Finding and using pay phones occupied more of our time than you can possibly imagine.

NEXTGEN

If we had been able to have a phone in our pocket – one that could call anywhere in the country without long distance charges - we could have ruled the fucking world. And I’m just talking about using the phone, never mind GPS, MySpace, Twitter, ad nauseam. Though we would have exploited those too, make no mistake.

But the only time I’m on the road now is when I’m driving somewhere in the Honda. So all I need is a phone for the one or two calls I make every month, or to have on me when some idiot in a Range Rover runs me off the road and I find myself upside down in a drainage ditch.

So I bought a $13 Samsung flip phone from Virgin Mobile. A chunky little flipper, you might call it. Very unstylish. Very 2006. Eminently and endlessly mockable.

Though I wouldn’t be surprised if some hairy-chinned hipsters carry around the same phone in an attempt to demonstrate their deep and abiding disdain for modern technology, while they keep an iPhone hidden next to their iWallet in the iPocket of their skinny iJeans.