A few weeks have passed since bab.la announced the results of the Top 100 Language Lovers competition 2012. Now we have soken with the winner of the Top 25 Language Professional Blogs Ken Clark a.k.a Translation Guy, who has also secured first place among the Top 25 Twitter accounts. He talked to us about his blog, his loyal readers and gave some advice to language bloggers.
When did you start blogging and when did you incorporate Twitter into your communication?
My first post was February 11th, 2009, a day that will live in infamy.
For the first year or so, my writing was unread, so much one-handed poetry scribbled in the dark. But since I found literary masturbation a poor substitute for the real thing, I was determined to find an audience that liked to watch. So I started writing shorter and more frequently, and for the last couple of years we’ve been promoting on Twitter, which required that we build a Twitter audience too.
Twitter readers are my kind of people, since I share their limited attention span. Writing short allows a broader range in my own research. Also excellent practice for my literary ambition to write headlines for the New York Post.
Since quantity is a quality all its own, I am happy to report over a quarter-million words sold. To celebrate, today I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Which audience are you mainly targeting with your blog?
I think it was Steven Tyler who said, “You can’t pick your audience. Your audience picks you.”
I’m supposed to post on what will appeal to prospects and existing customers. We are ranking high enough on the search engines now that the phone will ring if we do it right. But it takes more than the ringing of that bell to get me salivating over the keyboard. I have to write about what interests me to write at all.
So plan B is to create a community of readers who visit the site for their personal enjoyment and enlightenment. Those readers and their comments have created the kind of community of shared interests that Google rewards in search rankings, and is rewarding to me personally. I used to make my living as a writer, but never had the chance before to participate in a conversation with my readers. Their comments and link-thrus guide my pen.
You must have loyal readers. Did you promote the competition in a special way this year?
The loyal-est. For promotion, shameless pathos heavy with irony seems to work best. So with each nomination there is always a post designed to evoke reader tears and click-thru behavior. Tinkerbelle, the Cowardly Lion, and this year Judy Garland and George Washington (a sure-fire combo) have all been invoked to get readers to vote.
Also Twitter followers of @TranslationGuy are legion, and a certain tiny percentage have always been able to extend their attention spans for the few clicks necessary to cast a ballot on Language Lovers. It’s like a miracle.
Do you think winning in two categories is going to have an influence on your blog and Twitter?
Well, now I’m cocky. So readers will definitely start seeing more of the imperial “we” in our writing.
Language Lovers always gives us a traffic push, which we would also deign to acknowledge in the hopes that you will be of service to us in the future.
Of course, we will never forget… who was it now? Silly us, now we remember… we will never forget all the little people who made this all possible.
Do you think about another platform to promote your blog? You could be in the Facebook category next year 🙂
Well, since you guys have ignored our Facebook page for three years running, even though it’s the most popular by far, I don’t have my fingers crossed.
Oh, wait. That question was accompanied by a smiley face. Now I get it. Thanks in advance.
Do you have any advice for other language bloggers and Twitterers?
Speak to one person. You are a guest in your reader’s mind, so mind your manners. You must never impose or waste the time of your host if you wish to be invited back. On those matters where you cannot persuade, remain silent, which means no religion, politics or football. Be positive, even in insult.
Older readers will note how my Tweets pack the one-two-three punch of old Burma Shave signage, while younger readers will have to look up that reference. Twittees are most interested in useful information, expressed originally. They are not interested in what you are doing, or how you are feeling, or views that differ from their own. That’s for Facebook, which is why I was glad to miss out on that IPO.
How do you keep up with the work of updating your blog and Twitter on a regular basis?
My life is bereft of free time. I don’t watch TV. I even had to stop drinking. Reach requires frequency, so I am always at it. Did I mention my carpal tunnel?
Are you looking forward to next year’s competition? We hope you participate again J
It’s a great community builder. Thanks for your efforts.