Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Just improving ROI through SEO, all by COB

My search for employment continues much as it has for the past 9 months. There are always at least one or two promising leads that never pan out. Rather than being further discouraged, though, this has gotten me thinking: should I be doing more to earn income through alternate sources?

Now, it used to be that you could only earn money as a writer if you were an author or a columnist. There was a very high barrier to entry for these kinds of jobs, but the reward was having the privilege of doing something you loved and calling it a job. You can still get a dedicated job writing articles for a publication, online or otherwise, and publishing books online has been getting easier (though not necessarily as profitable, depending on the path you took).

There are still other options, though. Online advertising is a source of income that many bloggers, webcomic artists, and other distributors of online content take advantage of. Most will never make enough from that alone to become financially independent, but still, many ask whether there are ways to make it happen faster. I mean, besides actually creating engaging content for your audience, because that's just too much work for some people.

This is where the idea of SEO, or search-engine optimization, comes into play. Regardless of what that terminology actually means, what it means to most people who use it is, "How can I get more money without having to actually improve my product?" The goal is not to create better content that more people will want, but to market it more so that the number of people exposed to it increases. Online marketing is all about getting your clicks. Even if only 1% of people witnessing the content would care at all about it, simply getting more people to look at it improves the chances that the content can be profitable. This is the nature of the beast.

Now, we're all guilty of this to a degree. Even if your work online is a labor of love, you want people to see it, right? And if you're creating content that potentially helps people, you'll want the most people possible to be helped by it. This is why we use tags and keywords, so that people who actually want our content can find it more easily.

The dark side of SEO is where business-oriented minds try to drive more traffic to their site even if they have nothing to offer most of the people visiting. It's all about getting their clicks, their page impressions, and eventually, their revenue from advertisers. To many of these folks, it's not about the content; it's just a toy to make money.

So, where do I sit in all this? Obviously this blog is made for my own personal amusement first and foremost. Even so, I put advertising on it. I tag my posts and share around social networks to bring in more traffic. I even briefly tried a post-sponsoring program (which I quit after realizing how many of the sponsors were hocking worthless garbage).

I think what I'm saying is, it would be nice if we could all just do things we love and not worry about income. In fact, it would all be easier for me if I didn't have debt and the cost of living hanging over my head. But there is little room for art in a world of want. I'd love to just write and develop games and draw independently at my own pace, but I need money. I need to not be a burden on my family. I can't do the starving artist thing like a spoiled post-adolescent while my parents take care of my financial problems for me.

And so, I give in to stress, and I worry about the future. Of course, worry kills more people than work, as you may have heard. Really, my problems could be solved if I would just be that enterprising guy who will do whatever it takes to make money, but I'm just too stupid and stubborn. If I can't do a thing for the love of it, I feel rotten and hollow. I can't work effectively like that; I'm of no use to anyone if I feel like a sellout. Hell, if I just robbed a bank I could solve my present money problems, just as I could if I just keep leeching off my family. The issue is not whether I can do it, but whether I can do it and still live with myself.

Wow, this got much longer than I expected. Sorry, I didn't mean to keep you. I guess what I'm saying is, I'm still working on it. I was going to say something about independent game development but this post has grown all out of control.

So, the job hunt will continue. If or when I have updates on my various other projects (the games, the webcomics, the novel) I'll share them here. In the meantime, I expect I won't get any money here through amateur SEO nonsense, but just in case:

Facebook, penis enlargement, Bank of America, online dating, lose weight fast, earn money from home...

...are all topics I will talk about in future posts. I mean, you know, eventually, probably, if I get around to it. Or not. Either way.

Peace and love, you gorgeous readerfolk.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Just a bit of irony

A little while ago, I decided to change the comment settings on this blog. Rather than requiring a log-in, it would allow anyone to leave a comment anonymously if they wanted to. The intention was to make this place a little friendlier. The actual result was my having to deal with a barrage of spam comments, which has made me feel decidedly less friendly.

Anyway, I may leave it as-is a bit longer, but if this continues, I may just have to switch it back to requiring an account or word verification. I realize that could be a bit of a pain for actual readers, but it's a much bigger pain for me to moderate all the spam comments coming in each day.

So, to any new readers who may happen upon this little blog of mine, if I come across as unfriendly to you, that's just because my mood has been so soured by the parasitic scum of the Internet that my overall opinion of the human race has necessarily been impacted. There comes a point when I simply don't care that much what you have to say anymore. Even so, there are a few people out there who still give me hope. I should be thanking them every day for that, and I probably would if it didn't seem like such an odd thing to bring up in conversation. "Good friend, I just wanted to say thank you for helping me believe that human society may not actually rip itself apart with greed and apathy. At least not this week."

To those of you who are reading this now, thank you. If you ever wanted to leave a comment but felt it was inconvenient, I apologize, but let's face it: on my blog, what I have to say is more important anyway.

I guess that's all. Peace and love, all you reader people.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Just wanted to talk about an indie game

I haven't talked about Lone Survivor before now. Probably because tonight was only my second time playing it. I don't take to survival horror well, apparently. Or maybe I take to it too well. I'll get to that. The point is, this is a game I will likely reference a lot in the future and say "See, this is how survival horror games should be made, and this is why."

Now, I'm not going to write a review on this. For one thing, more credible gaming-columnist-types have reviewed this fine piece of indie gaming before. For another, I've only logged just over an hour, and I play very slowly, so I can't exactly review the product as a whole.

(image borrowed without permission from pocketgamer.co.uk, because come on, it's not like they made it)

So, why am I going so slowly through the game? Well, aside from being a bit of a wimp, I seem to worry a great deal about the main character's well-being. Really, that's a good thing for a horror game. A lot of modern "survival horror" games are really just action games with creepy monsters, because that's what big developers think people want.

Here's the thing: you do encounter and sometimes fight monsters in this game, but in the time I've played, one of the more unsettling parts of the game in my opinion has been the creeping dread that my character is going to slowly starve to death because he's been stuck in this apartment building for a week and has barely found any food. That's putting emphasis on the "survival" in survival horror.

Tonight, I ate the last of the beef jerky I found the other day and was still hungry shortly thereafter. I tracked down several cans of goods but was without a can-opener. Meanwhile, my character complains constantly of hunger and is acting delirious. I wound up popping some mysterious pills out of desperation. You can't imagine the wave of relief I felt after fighting my way to a neighbor's kitchen, where I found the sought-after can opener, and a fresh ham. Never in my life have I been so elated by the sight of ham. Now, if only any of the ovens in the building were working...

That brings me to the other half of what's great about this: there really is no clear metric for how well your character is doing. You know you need food to survive, but don't know how much is enough or when the hunger will go from a minor annoyance to a mortal concern. The same is true of sleep. You know the pills you find can probably be useful, but it's not clear how, and they probably have nasty side-effects. You know monsters will hurt you but you don't know how much. Your odds of survival are always an unknown.

On the other hand, you're keenly aware of the amount of charge remaining in your flashlight, the number of bullets left for your gun, and the number of edible food items you've located, all of which are ever dwindling. Well, at least there's a stuffed animal I can tell my woes to.

So, to my point: many games are popular because the player gets the opportunity to control a powerful avatar and go on epic adventures. But when you're making a survival horror game, you want to go the other direction and make the player feel relatively powerless. Cowering in the dark, eating rice pudding and talking to your stuffed animal might not sound like great fun, but it makes for a very engaging horror experience.

Obviously, this can be tricky, because if a game makes the player feel too powerless and lost, they'll just get frustrated. That's why it's important to remember the power of that fresh ham in the refrigerator. Those little moments of hope can keep the player going. Couple that with a story that is slow to betray the secrets of the world we're trying to survive in, and you'll keep players intrigued and emotionally invested in the game.

Anyway, that's about all I wanted to say tonight. Hopefully I'll have something more universally engaging to talk about soon. In the meantime, I need sleep.

Peace and love, you wonderful reader people. May life hand you a fresh delicious ham when you least expect it.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Just a quick one-off about guns

I hope my previous post regarding gun control didn't give anyone the impression that I think I'm somehow above discussing gun control or guns in general. Really, I love to shoot my mouth off about guns. I do it all the time. Just about anything can trigger it. You could almost say the urge to talk about guns is semi-automatic. It's always a barrel of laughs though, and the people I discuss it with are of the highest caliber. I've had so many engauging conversations on the subject, it's hard to keep stock of them all. I'd have to rifle through my chat logs to give you a solid number, butt I almost always make a strong bullet point, and my reasoning is nigh impossible to assault. Remington.