Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

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Blog, blog, bloggin’ on heaven’s door

Blogging 101: some unsolicited advice for Bob Dylan

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The blogosphere welcomes… Bob Dylan. On Friday the singer posted this short message on bobdylan.com. It’s the first time he has communicated directly with his fans online. This may not seem like front page news to a lot of people. But to those of us who find the idea of Dylan interacting with a computer – or doing just about anything, really – endlessly fascinating, it’s still a big deal. Dylan’s 430-word missive, for the most part, addresses criticism of his recent visit to China. But oblique reference is also made to his upcoming 70th birthday:

Everybody knows by now that there’s a gazillion books on me either out or coming out in the near future. So I’m encouraging anybody who’s ever met me, heard me or even seen me, to get in on the action and scribble their own book. You never know, somebody might have a great book in them.

Now I wouldn’t dream of telling the great man how to write a song. But if he intends to dabble in blogging, well, that’s a different matter. Not to blow my own trumpet or anything, but you don’t get nominated for Best Blog by a Journalist at the Irish Blog Awards without knowing a trick or two. So if it’s not too presumptous, I’d like to offer Mr Dylan some unsolicited blogging advice.

First of all, Bob, you should know that blogging is a thankless, time-consuming task. If you wish to use this platform effectively you need to maximise the impact of your work. Let’s review your efforts to date, shall we?

We’ll begin with the headline, “To my fans and followers.” Booring. When it pops up in their Twitter streams, people will assume this concerns parking arrangements for some concert in Buttfuck, Iowa. They’re not going to care. If they don’t care, they don’t click.

You need to come up with a headline that grabs people’s attention, that plays to the most salacious details of the post and draws traffic by convincing people that what they’re about to read is more interesting than it actually is.

In this case, you should probably have gone with either “Jack Kerouac, Che Guevara and Me: The Truth” or “Maureen Dowd Can Kiss My Wrinkly, Jewish Ass.” Don’t mention it, Bob. You’re welcome.

Secondly, that photograph? Really? No offence, but it looks like you’re waiting for a doctor’s appointment. Would it kill you to jazz things up a bit? Personally, as far as possible, I try to illustrate as many blogposts as I can with either a photos of either a man pointing a gun or a girl with huge knockers.

The trick is not to be too obvious about it. Maybe these were some of the 12,000 Chinese people queueing outside for concert tickets? Or this was the authorities not preventing you from playing certain songs? It’s called artistic licence. Of all people, you should understand that.

Finally, the piece you wrote references concerts performed in China in April 2011 and your upcoming seventieth birthday the following month. There’s nothing wrong with that per se. But you might find it preferable to avoid topical references in your writing.

As I said, blogging is a time consuming task with no direct revenue accruing from it. And there’s a recession on. Write about generic subjects like the Leaving Cert, what you had for lunch that day or something funny that happened to you in the pub. That way you can recycle old material over and over and over again for years to come. Trust me, no one will ever notice.

May 15th, 2011.

7 Responses to “Blog, blog, bloggin’ on heaven’s door”

  1. gueuleton Says:

    “If blogs run free why not me?”

  2. sarah Says:

    Or maybe they’ll notice but be too polite to say :)

  3. LazyHippy Says:

    I don’t think hes blogging I think he was just getting his own back against people who were criticising him in the press. I can’t see him blogging about the leaving cert anyway can you???

  4. wheatln2 Says:

    Saw this and assumed that Jeff Rosen or someone else on the management team just wrote it up, phoned Bobby to see if he had anything to add, got the quote about the books and published it? Who knows though, maybe Chronicles Volume Two will be an all-digital experience, released tweet by tweet? Could be a laugh.

  5. broone Says:

    Its Assfuck, Iowa, Get your facts right

  6. Ponyo Says:

    It’s alright ma, I’m only blogging

  7. Dermot Says:

    Some say you’ve got a book in ya, Butler! Now’s your chance, with endorsement from the main man himself!

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