advantages of taking organized travel tours

The Advantages of Taking Organized Travel Tours While Traveling Long-Term

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Budgeting, Career, Travel

When I first started travelling, I was deadset against the idea of any sort of organized excursion. I figured it would be easier to do it yourself, and in doing so I’d save money and have a more authentic experience. However, the more I’ve traveled, the less I’ve found that to be true. There are actually many advantages of taking organized travel tours, and they’re actually more fun than you think.

I was talking to Alex earlier today about how I felt we’ve been pretty touristy in our choices lately. For me, that felt a little antithetical to the digital nomad lifestyle (whatever that means), as we were relying on other people to make choices for us. Since we left Spain, I’d say that our travels have become a bit more organized. For one, we did a 3 month stint in Asia with We Roam (now called WY_CO) that was essentially an organized tour.

Although you don’t actually have a day-to-day itinerary, WY_CO organizes flights and an apartment in every city that you travel to. Additionally, they also organize community events, language classes and community service activities for you. There’s also a built-in social life, which has both its advantages and disadvantages.

Still, there is an inherent value in spending a month in each location, which is one of the big advantages of taking organized travel tours. For one, you can focus on cultural immersion (like I did in Seoul) and start to learn about the culture you’re in without having to plan every little detail. Finding a hotel or hostel is not really a huge deal, nor is booking a flight and transportation to your hotel or hostel. However, researching all of the activities, places to eat and sights to see is a bit more work. One of the other advantages of taking organized travel tours is that you often you get access to unforgettable experiences that you normally wouldn’t get access to without those connections.

For example, Alex and I, as well as some others, volunteered at a school in rural Vietnam by donating books and teaching English. While our teaching skills may not have been amazing, it was really was a unique and eye-opening experience for us. Never before have I felt like a celebrity (and I probably never will again). It was also the kind of thing you probably couldn’t arrange yourself outside of an organized tour. That’s not to say volunteer opportunities like this can’ be found on your own, but they are much harder to come by in this way without the benefit of an organized travel tour.

advantages of organized travel tours

Since Alex and I have went back abroad for some solo travel, we’ve done a total of four tours in two countries in two weeks. In our first week in Ho Chi Mihn City, we did three. None of them costed more than $30, and each gave us a unique experience that wouldn’t have been possible to arrange by ourselves. And also, we ate chicken feet and swan with whale sharks, so that was pretty awesome.

The truth is, tours actually come in all types of varieties. When people think of organized travel, they typically think of the large stereotypical group where every move you make and every breath you take is prearranged for you. We often don’t think of the side trips or day tours we take as organized travel. But they really are. Regardless of what you consider a tour, it’s important to recognize that tours like these play a big part in travelling, and much of the experiences of travel wouldn’t be possible without them.

For me, those are the biggest  advantages of taking organized travel tours. They’re also not a terrible way to meet people for a one-off social experience, and sometimes you can even see those people down the road if you connect. That’s not to say tours are totally necessary to travel, but they can often deepen your knowledge of a certain place, especially if the activity is exclusive or the history is poorly presented to tourists.

Regardless of how you feel about organized travel, I definitely recommend you try some, especially if you are a long-term traveler. After all, you’re not just on vacation — it’s your life. And sometimes, living the best life possible as a traveler is recognizing that being a tourist is ok, and that often you need a balance. After all, tourism done right can be a vital conduit into another culture, and can give you the type of perspective you never would have had otherwise.


“I’ve Never Given up Hope” — Scott Gingold on His Activism, Family, and ALS

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized

My friend Greg Gingold, who I went to Israel with on Birthright years ago, recently contacted me to tell me his brother’s story. Greg’s brother, Scott Gingold, was diagnosed with ALS in 2014, losing the ability to walk a year later. Since then, Scott has thrown himself into activism work, writing to his US senators, state senator, and state representatives about bills he is passionate about, and why they should or should not vote for them.

A key piece of legislation that Scott was involved in was The Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act. This bill fights for the voices of people living with degenerative diseases, providing funding for speech assistant devices to patients with ALS and other debilitating conditions. The bill was recently passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Trump. Speaking with Scott, he told me that he wrote “…these particular letters on behalf of the ALS association with their support,” working tirelessly with the organization to pass this legislation.

Additionally, Scott has been involved in legislation involving gun control, calling for US senators to back the the Assault Weapons Ban of 2018, which would make it illegal to buy, sell, transfer and manufacture semiautomatic Assault Weapons and large capacity accessories like bump stocks. He also also supported legislation to require all gun owners to purchase liability insurance, which would make them financially responsible for any damages caused with their weapons. When I asked Scott about his support of this legislation, he told me that he believes it will “…hopefully reduce the amount of senseless mass violence…” caused by guns.

While this legislation is currently in political limbo, Scott has been devoting much of his time to his family. Scott is a devoted husband and father, seeing his wife and daughter once a week despite living in a nursing home. Using a tobii dynavox eye gaze computer to communicate, Scott is able to speak with his daughter, Darby, and his wife, Marissa, by texting throughout the day

Scott Gingold

Scott says that the tobii dynavox eye gaze computer he uses “…has a sensor that follows my eye movements and I type out what I want to say. I can also access the Internet and use programs on this machine.” This significantly improves his quality of life, and allows him to be a part of Darby’s and Marissa’s lives in a more intimate way. “I have been making sure that I am a part of Marissa’s and my daughter Darby’s life. I write bedtime stories for Darby; I’ve never given up hope and Darby is the reason,” said Scott.

Scott Gingold

Before being diagnosed with ALS, Scott was an avid traveler, having honeymooned with his wife to Barcelona. He has also traveled to Rome, Pisa, Florence, Venice, Paris and Montreal. As a long-term traveler, I found Scott’s experiences traveling, as well as his activism and close relationship to his family, to be moving. This prompted me to donate to a GoFundMe campaign set up by his brother, Greg, on behalf of Marissa. With the money from this campaign, Scott hopes to ensure his six year old daughter’s future and help her and his wife Marissa and move to an apartment much closer to Scott so that they can spend more time with him.

ALS affects as many as 30,000 in the United States, with 5,000 new cases diagnosed each year. It occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries. Scott’s efforts have been working finding relief for those with ALS as well as their families.




travel is a brutaliy

Traveling is a Brutality and a Contradiction ― And That’s Why I Love It

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Budgeting, Travel

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends.
You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things: air, sleep, dreams, sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”― Cesare Pavese

I recently spoke to a friend about why I’m continuing to travel. A few days ago, I landed into Ho Chi Minh City, and on this new trip something occurred to me. It’s not just that the more I’ve traveled, the more I’ve pushed away from home, and the less meaning I’ve found in it. This I already knew, and actually don’t have a problem with at all. The truth is that most of that is growing up, and most of that would’ve happened regardless. But what I’ve recently realized is that traveling has allowed me to become simultaneously invested in society while also actively not choosing to live in it.

Let me explain. I’ve saved a lot of money while traveling and working my full-time job. This amount of savings I’ve created probably wouldn’t have happened if I stayed stateside. So for me, traveling is not only a cheaper way to live,but also a way to grind out professional experience without actually feeling beholden to it. With my remote job, I work when I need to, and not just for the sake of it. In other words, I work to live, I don’t live to work. I’m not working a 40 hour week, but I’m getting all of the benefits of working one.

That’s why for me, travel is a brutality and a contradiction. I’ve cast off all familiarity (aside for Alex) and instead opted for a simple life of escapism. But the reality is that it’s not that way at all. I’m getting to discover the craft brewery scene in Ho Chi Minh City while contributing to my 401k. I’m a functional member of society without even living in it.

For me, that’s the ultimate irony. I haven’t had to change my life or my habits to integrate or feel valued personally or professionally. There’s really not much else I’d be doing if I were back in the United States. I’m not off-balance so much as I’ve learned how to balance on a different beam. My life isn’t unbearable so much as it’s just lightness; it’s the kind of life where I can grow a travel beard and then trim it down because I can.

There may not be meaning to it all, but if there’s no meaning to life anyway, you might as well pare it down to the basic essentials. The sites, the smells and, of course, the food is really all you need. It’s not so much minimalism as much as the lack of the unnecessary. Travel is a brutality because you know what waits on the other side. It’s different for everyone but essentially the same; trapping yourself by the constrains of somebody else’s rules.

And while those rules and standards become more attractive with age, I’m just not there yet. I’m giving up nothing and gaining something ― but what that something is I’ll never know. It’s elusive and intangible, but also I’m not at the point where travel is a sacrifice. If everything is unfamiliar, than familiarly holds no sway over your actions in the short-term.

Maybe I just don’t want to make a decision ― or maybe the decision was made for me long ago. But either way, I’ve become a part of society without doing it at all; I’ve both beat them and joined them. This contradiction is inherent to me, and inherent to my continuation of travel. And until that contradiction no longer serves me, I’ll just live it.

one year of blogging

One Year of Blogging: A Year in Review

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Internet, Marketing, Writing

I can’t believe that I’ve been blogging for a whole year. In one year of blogging, I’ve written 63 posts (including this one), and gotten over 26.5k views on them. It’s actually been a pretty good ride! Some months, I’ve gotten too much traffic. Some months have had abysmally low traffic. But more than anything, I’ve found a happy medium by using my one year of blogging to build links and gain search traffic. This is actually pretty nice, because now even if I ignore my blog for a month, I’ll get around 200 views. And if I build more links, it could be even more.

But more than anything, in one year of blogging, I’ve learned that writing can be incredibly frustrating. I already knew that, of course — but it’s another thing to run a publication where you’re the sole contributor. I’ve written for many larger publications in the past, and even ran my own publication for a while in the video game industry. But fronting a publication — even one as low stakes as a blog, can make you feel beholden to it. Nobody else will be writing posts, so if you don’t, the blog will stay dormant.

Not that it ultimately takes much money to run a blog aside for hosting and domain costs (along with blood, sweat and tears). But it does take the type of commitment that I’ve only previously given to my job and my girlfriend. But now that I’m in one year of blogging, I figure that I might as well continue. While I still haven’t settled on any type of niche (and am not sure if I will) it’s a really good outlet for me to write and share my thoughts publicly.

This might not seem very important, but if you’re a writer who is working in an adjacent field (offsite SEO management) it really helps to have a place to write and publish. While I do have a graphic novel coming out next year, the vast majority of the script work was done on it several years ago. Although I’ve been managing the production of that quite intently, one year of blogging has allowed me to write on things totally unrelated to my upcoming book. And most importantly, I’ve been able to produce new articles and thoughts for people to read directly. In a way, this is almost more important than a book, as for me, writing is communicating as opposed to a form of self-expression.

For me, one year of blogging represents taking my communication skills to the next level. No longer are my thoughts filtered through the confines of video game or technology articles. Now, I can write whatever I want, whenever I want. And I have a platform for that. It may not be a huge platform that gets a ton of attention, but its a platform nevertheless. And knowing that the only person that can take that away from me is myself has been the greatest achievement of one year of blogging.

Ultimately, one year of blogging has allowed me to communicate online on my own terms. Not through the use of social media, where arguments and toxicity is abound, but through my own platform that I own (or at least rent). For me, that’s the biggest lesson to take away from one year of blogging. Control the space where you choose to communicate; otherwise the terms of communication will be set for you.

the voices of tamriel

The Voices of Tamirel – Enjoying the Voice Acting of The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Video Games

These days, when someone mentions a video game in The Elder Scrolls franchise, Skyrim is what comes to mind. It’s widely considered the best and most comprehensive answer in the franchise. But for me, that’s not the case – my heart has always belonged to The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.

As opposed to the super-serious tundras of Skyrim, Oblivion always reveled in its abrupt vainglorious cheesiness, and fully embraced its ridiculous premise. Here you are, running around the world of Tamriel, protecting the vague legacy of an emperor voiced by Sir Patrick Stewart, with about all of eight major voice actors to guide you through the world. In other words, the voices of Tamriel are not numerous, but they are colorful.

Released in 2005, as one of the first ‘next-gen’ titles and the first truly immersive open-world RPG of the last generation, The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion often felt over-ambitious, its impressive scope hamstrung by bugs and limitations imposed by the technology of the time. Luckily, for the sake of gamers far and wide, Oblivion chose to embrace its silliness rather than squander it. Rather than play itself off as a hobo in a tuxedo, Bethesda chose to just put it all out there, one loveable, buggy mess at a time.

And that’s what made it so great, so compelling, so immersive in how often you were taken out of the universe. You have thousands and thousands of characters populating this huge fictional universe, and only a small variety of voices to bind them together. You noticed this, yes, but you kept playing. On and on, the adventures of Tamriel took precedence over everything else. But there was nothing like the voices of Tamriel. Nor, do I think, will there ever be again.

The Voices of Tamriel: The Beggar

“Thank you kind sir.” The beggar says simply, tersely, as though they’ve been given a single Septim a thousand different times. And they have. And presumably, they’ve all been given a Septim or two by you at some point. The longer you play the game, the more the beggars seem to beg. And beg. And beg. See, nobody else seems to helps the beggars of Tamriel except yourself. It’s as though you’re the patron saint of beggars. And they’ll talk your ear off for it, commenting on anything that comes to mind. They’re a strange sort, yes – and they’re certainty downtrodden. But they’re your beggars, and every time you leave them behind, they leave a Septim-shaped hole in your heart.

The Voices of Tamriel: The Imperial Guardsman

What do you get when you take a Buzz Lightyear toy, transport it into a high-fantasy world, and turn its penchant for justice up to 11? Why, an Imperial Guardsman, of course – and they populate just about every major town in Tamriel. Virtually all have the same hilariously self-righteous voice, as though they’ve been training to be authoritative with every cadence and enunciation.

No, there are no arrows to the knee to be seen here. But really, “you should have paid the fine,” and your punishment for not doing so is death. There’s nothing like a good lecture from an Imperial Guardsman — like a police officer who thinks he’s a great guy for explaining to you exactly why he gave you a ticket. And then doubling a fine. That is law and order in the world of Tamriel. Really, you should just think about your actions around these guys and gals – lest you want to be labeled as “criminal scum.”

The Voices of Tamriel: The Adoring Fan

Oh Adoring Fan, how we love you when you tell us that you’re going to watch us and worship the ground we walk on. Simply win some easy battles in the arena in the Imperial City, and the Adoring Fan is all yours – fit to do with as you please, in literally any context imaginable. Quirky doesn’t even begin to describe the Adoring Fan’s devotion to you, and as far as characters go, this one is equally senseless as beloved. His voice is so iconic that it will grate on the ears of generations of gamers to come. Still, who can resist a greeting like this: “By Azura! By Azura! By Azura! It’s the Grand Champion!”?

The Voices of Tamriel: The Citizens

There’s nothing like a split personality — or two seemingly different voice actors taking a shot at the same denizen of Tamriel. While it may make the characters sound schizophrenic, there’s a certain charm to it; a certain hilariousness that only Oblivion could get away with. From the exclamations to the flubbed lines, the various denizens of Tamriel all had one thing in common — they had plenty to say, and they all said them in the silliest possible way.

The voices of Tamriel are what made the game so immersive, proving its utter devotion to camp. This is nowhere more apparent than in the voice acting, a true spectacle of ridiculousness, tethered to gravitas by some of the more layered performances by cast members such as Sir Patrick Stewart (Emperor Uriel Septim VII), Sean Bean (Brother Martin), Lynda Carter (female Nord, Orcs) and Terrance Stamp (Mankar Camaron).

But for me, the voices of Tamriel were most memorable when they were the most exaggerated, the most comical. If anything, the enforced grimness of the main characters only highlights just how silly the game is elsewhere. That’s what made Tamriel such a great world to explore in The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, and has made it memorable to me years later.

how to stop binge watching tv

How to Stop Binge Watching TV and Reclaim Your Life

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Culture, Internet, Television

A while back, I wrote a post about binge watching TV. At that time, I had mostly stopped, but the truth is I hadn’t learned how to stop binge watching TV yet. However, I’m happy to say that at this point, I’ve actually done just that. Opening up Netflix is never really my go-to activity, and watching seasons upon seasons of a show is just not appealing anymore. A part of that is age, of course, but a part of that is also how I allocate my time.

That’s not to say that I don’t waste time anymore, or that I even spend my time more productively. I more just feel that binge watching TV isn’t for me. I play more video games, I read more, I watch a lot of movies on planes when traveling. And most importantly, I see friends and socialize more. But I’m not here to talk about the benefits of cutting out binge watching. What I’m here to do is talk about how to stop binge watching TV.

For me, the answer was simple. I ran out of things I wanted to watch. Aside for The Wire, I’ve seen all of the shows I wanted to see. I focused on quality TV shows like The Sopranos, and Breaking Bad, but the truth is there aren’t that many great shows out there. I’ve watched some of Stranger Thingsfor example, but I don’t really have any interest in nostalgia in my entertainment. This helps a lot during the era of peak TV, where every other show is a revival of something else. Often, I didn’t give a shit about the original in the first place, so its easy to ignore.

For example, I casually watched shows like Rosanne when reruns where on, but the original run of the show was before my time. This makes it easy to not care about current shows coming out, especially those on Netflix, which are typically market tested to appeal to specific demographics of viewers. These shows on Netflix usually aren’t that good anyway, and there’s a reason that people will forgive that. They are easily accessible, new, and most importantly entire seasons are immediately available. If that’s not convenient, then I don’t know what is.

That’s why the worst thing you can do as a millennial is get into older shows that weren’t specifically designed for streaming, as they are actually generally better quality. There may not be a Friends revival on the horizon, but there a lot of seasons of Friends on Netflix. In fact, there are 236 episodes total. With each episode clocking in at approximately 22 minutes (commercial free, thanks to Netflix), that’s 5,192 minutes of Friends, or 86.5 hours. And that’s just one show! If you start to break it down like that, it’s easy to see how to stop binge watching TV is a valid choice.

If that’s how you want to spend your time — there’s of course nothing wrong with that. But if 86.5 hours seems like a long time to spend watch Friends, then maybe you’re on to something. The best way to approach the question of how to stop binge watching TV is just take into account the time that it actually takes. If you aren’t trying to do anything else with the time, then you may not be trying to quit. But if you have that void of time, or at least have the desire to, then you may realize that there are other things you can do with your time.

Not everything is a quest to finish the next thing, whether its a TV show, video game, or country to travel to. Those things will always be there, and you can experience them on your own time. And most importantly, you can reclaim your time and decide what you actually want to work on in your free time. It doesn’t have to have the goal of self-improvement, but most other hobbies aside for binge watching TV do have an element of progression. You can always become a faster or more informed reader, a better Overwatch player, or a more worldly traveler. But binge watching TV doesn’t do any of these things. You just because a husk, consuming content beamed directly into your eyeballs.

Feeling like an inactive participant in your life is one of the best ways to feel depressed, and one of the best ways to feel like your life lacks agency. Consider these things as you start your own journey on how to stop binge watching TV, and then think about where else your time can be spent. At the very least, you’ll have more to talk about when you go out into the world.

budget for traveling

How to Budget for Traveling to Make Your Travels Better and More Meaningful

Posted 4 CommentsPosted in Budgeting, Travel

In a few weeks, I’ll be going back abroad. While the experience doesn’t necessarily feel as meaningful as it used to, travel is still a huge part of my life. Part of that lifestyle is creating a budget for traveling, which often occurs while you’re already over there. If you’re going on a finite vacation though, creating a budget for traveling is obviously an easier endeavor. This is especially true when you have the whole family involved.

If that is the case, then you need to accommodate everyone on the trip. If you’re going on a cross-country trip, for example, an RV rental may make more sense than flying. Plane tickets don’t scale — the more family members you have, the more tickets you are going to have to buy. That being said, creating a budget for traveling also means taking the individual tastes of who you are traveling with into account.

For example, when I travel with Alex, she likes to do adventure tours. Adventure travel, like organized hikes, often end up taking multiple days and are generally a little pricey when it comes to travel add-ons. However, while I initially hated them, I’ve grown to like them. You get to experience a side of a different culture you normally wouldn’t see, and are literally putting your well-being in someone else’s hands from that culture. This helps you create a bond with that culture that you wouldn’t if you were just lazing around on the beach and getting served by locals.

But when you like something, you obviously need to budget for it. This is why creating a budget for traveling is so important — it allows you to assess your priorities. For some, their budget for traveling will go towards fancy hotels and nice meals out. For others, it means exploration and adventure. Regardless of how you spend your money, you need to recognize that traveling is often more expensive than you’d like to be. Still, no matter how well your trip is planned, things will inevitably go wrong at some point.

Maybe this means that when you budget for traveling, you factor in incidentals. But that’s not always realistic for everyone. Just like most vacations are finite, so are the budgets for them. More importantly, it means that you will be cutting back on the things you really want to be doing. While that’s a real dilemma, the best thing to keep in mind is that travel is not cheap. Even with flexibility and sites like Travelpirates, you often need at least a spare $1000 for a trip for two.

Not everyone has that, and also not everyone wants to spend their hard earned money that way even if they did. And that’s ok! Travel is not for everyone, nor does it ultimately change your life. Thinking otherwise is just rubbing your travel experience in people’s faces. But if you do do decide to travel, make sure to make a budget for traveling. The itinerary doesn’t need to be 100% set in advance. But it will give you an idea of what you want to do and how you want to approach your travels, making your travel plans customized not only to your desires, but also what you desire to spend.

writing about video games

How Writing About Video Games Less Has Allowed Me to Enjoy Video Games More

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Culture, Journalism, Video Games

A while back, I wrote a post about my journey of writing about video games. Back when I was in college, I had thought that writing about video games would be my profession.  However, after graduating college, I was soon realized that wasn’t going to happen. Part of this was monetary and ethical — and another part was that journalism itself is barely even recognizable as a profession. Maybe some of this is excuses, and maybe some of it is because I find writing inherently frustrating when you’re reliant on it for an income, especially when  freelancing.

But the truth is I’m happy that I made the switch to marketing and used my writing abilities to work on creative projects like my upcoming graphic novel and this blog. Writing about video games was not only stressful, but it made me enjoy games a lot less. Every time I played a game, I had to think about some angle to write about it. It made the very act of writing about video games work — which is totally antithetical to the idea of playing video games in the first place.

That is’not to say that I never find myself writing about video games. I’ve republished some of my best writing about video games from the now-defunct Continue Play on this blog about race and class in Bioshock: Infinite, the changing dynamics of friendship using Rock Band and nostalgia and horror in Chex Quest. I’ve have also made a recent attempt with my piece about the role of brotherhood in The Walking Dead: A New Frontier,paralleling it with my relationship with my own brother. 

These pieces are some of the best writing about video games that I’ve done, and they all have one thing in common — they’re all culture pieces. None of them are trying to quantify the games or make judgments. They aren’t trying to talk about gameplay, sound, or graphics, nor are they puff pieces sent out by PR companies promoting the latest trailers and developer diaries. Instead, when I do write about video games, it’s because I have a personal connection and something to say about them. It has nothing to do with my feelings on the game itself, but rather how I experienced it and what it made me think about. While very few outlets are going to pay you much for a piece like that (if they even pay at all), that doesn’t mean that there’s no merit to writing about video games in that way.

Thinking about video games critically has brought back the enjoyment of them that I had lost for much of the time I was trying to hack it as a video game journalist. When you’re playing games for work, they’re no longer enjoyable — they’re just work. Now, I probably consume more media than I ever have. I play a lot of games, I watch a lot of movies, I read a lot of books. And most of all, I travel quite a bit. Having experiences has become a more personal thing for me, and not something I feel obligated to write about.

As a writer, there’s something really freeing about that — not everything’s being done for the story. Sometimes, you just want to play a video game, or watch a movie, or read a book or travel to a new country. And then, you just want to keep your thoughts about them to yourself. While I hope to use all of these experiences in my writing someday, not trying to monetize any of these hobbies has brought a lot of meaning to my life and allowed me to clearly separate what I do for a living and what I enjoy. And when writing about video games, that separation is key to turning your brain off for a bit and just having a good time.



building links for your blog

How Building Links Has Helped Me Get Better Readers — Even if There Are Less of Them

Posted 3 CommentsPosted in Internet, Marketing

It’s no secret that my blog traffic has been at an all-time low. Where I once was getting an average of around 3,000 readers a month, I now am getting several hundred. This is partly my own fault — but it is also the fault of social media, particularly Facebook. For those who pay attention to these sort of things, Facebook went and changed their algorithm. This actually isn’t a bad thing for Facebook as a platform, although it does screw publishers of content. Facebook organic page reach has declined in order to sell more ads, and Facebook groups reach as declined as well. Basically, Facebook wants you to buy ads now, and interact with your friends more. That’s why instead of Facebook, I’ve turned to the process of building links for your blog, which has paid off nicely.

Let me explain — backlinks are the #1 ranking factor that Google uses for organic traffic. These backlinks represent other sites linking to a page on your site. This process is intrinsically linked to other parts of SEO like keyword research. However, unlike keyword research you can build these link yourself through editorial outreach or tactical link building, which is actually what I do for a living as an Offsite SEO Manager. For some reason, I never thought (or was too lazy) to do this for my own site, as social media traffic was doing a great job of getting readers. I also didn’t feel like making any changes, as things were working out just fine.

However, the truth is that these readers weren’t dedicated in any real sense. They’d click on my blog because I wrote something controversial, not because they had any interest in reading more after that article. In fact, my bounce rate (meaning readers who just read that article and then bounced) was really high. In fact, it was close to 90%. That’s pretty bad when your goal is for people to read your blog, not just get outraged and leave. Fortunately, building links for your blog is a way to capture a portion of readers who are looking for a specific search query. If they’re happy with what they read, they’ll often go on to read other articles on your site.

This has happened with several of my articles, most notably my Bioshock Infinite article on Daisy Fitzroy. Articles like these do well on search because they provide a certain informational function — people want to learn more about Daisy Fitzroy. Given that that’s one of my better written articles, and likely the most definitive article written on Daisy Fitzroy online, it tends to convert people to read more articles on my blog. While I haven’t built any links directly to this article, building links for your blog to other articles on your site helps to increase your overall domain authority. There’s a complex argument if domain authority is actually effective as a metric, but when marketing a blog , building links for your blog is of paramount importance.

While organic social media marketing is on its way out, building links for your blog is a sustainable way to gain organic traffic from Google and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo. I may not be getting thousands of readers like I was previously, but I do have almost 60 published articles that I’ve been mobilizing for search. This may not be bringing in a ton of readers, but who is reading is much more dedicated and more likely to read other articles and come away with a positive opinion of my writing. And as a writer, isn’t connecting and communicating with readers what matters?

why awards are important

Why Awards Are Important in Entertainment

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Comic Books, Culture, Internet, Marketing, Movies, Reading, Television, Video Games

In the entertainment industry, there’s a reason why awards are important. Awards shows like the Oscars or the Emmys signify that a movie or TV show is worthy of attention. More importantly, it forces producers in these mediums to actually make content that would get attention at these award shows. For example, a show like Mr. Robot may not have an impressive number of viewers, but its continuation garners significant prestige for USA Network due to its numerous Emmy nods.

In other words, you might be getting a Marvel and Star Wars movie every year until you die (if not more), but at least because of award shows, you also get prestige flicks like Moonlight and Spotlight. While next year, the Oscar winner may not have ‘light’ in the title, it will also likely be a very good movie. That isn’t the case for the vast majority of movies and TV shows, but awards shows like the Oscars and the Emmys help to separate the wheat from the chafe when it comes to popular entertainment.

Where this doesn’t really happen is with the Grammys and music, and you may notice the difference between mainstream music and mainstream movies. Every form of popular entertainment needs its blockbuster hits to sustain its industry, but the Grammys makes no distinction between popularity and prestige. That’s why Macklemore can win a Grammy, and Adele regularly sweeps the show. That’s not to say that Adele isn’t a talented singer, but there are many other singers who are more talented than Adele who are not getting proper recognition. This is because of how the Grammys are operated. Membership to the Recording Academy, which votes on the Grammy nominations, is much easier to obtain than membership to other awards bodies. This makes voting less political, and the high number of members are more easily swayed toward artists they’ve already heard of.

If you want to know why the music industry doesn’t produce the same level of quality as the film or TV industries do, then here’s your answer. Just looking at how the Grammys decide on their membership goes a long way in showing why awards are important. This is also true in the less popular publishing industry, both for books and comics. Short of getting selected for Oprah’s book club like literary author Jonathan Franzen, there isn’t a whole lot of ways to popularize a work of literature. That’s why literary prizes are so important, and is a key reason why Britain’s prestigious Man Booker prize has been opened up to American authors.

While those in the literary community are not generally happy about this (but when are they?), it does help give increased exposure to books that may not have otherwise gotten it. Last year, when I got back into reading, I read two books that received the Man Booker prize. For those who don’t have an exhaustive interest in a given media, they need to be told what is critically good, and this is another reason why awards are important. Awards may not be a vital part of entertainment, but they do serve a pivotal role in getting people into content they may not have experienced otherwise.

In comics, the Eisner Awards are the most prestigious, but even those are obscure. Most people, if they even read comics at all, opt for Marvel or DC titles, although that is quickly changing with the rise of graphic novels. Given the serial nature of most comics, it’s especially difficult to figure out what is good and what is not, and I think that’s a key reason as to why the comics business struggles in the way that it does. This shows exactly why awards are important, as a more mainstream awards ceremony would give quality graphic novels the attention they deserve.

For all forms of media, awards serve an important role, both in discovery for watchers, listeners, and readers, and to push creators and companies to create and finance more prestige content. This helps to promote a better quality of media, and ultimately make our world a much more interesting one to live in. Because without good and accessible stories — what do we really have?