How to get Popular

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MiaoLong

Senior Member

01-07-2013

Introduction

So a couple of people have asked me now how to write up a popular thread of their own on this forum. A lot of them assume all has to do with what is written-- and as much as I wish that were true, there are a host of other factors at play, a lot of which is rarely taught, and is to be self-learned. I decided to share some of my tricks of the trade on how to effectively increase traffic flow to your work and make sure that your effort will be seen.Hopefully this will help differentiate those who are dedicated to their work, but for whatever reason, their effort is ignored or missed by the community at large. I'm going to order these factors in their importance, but by no means take this as law. This is simply an opinion on how to work the system, and you're more than welcome to ignore what I have to say or disagree.


1) Write Well

Quote:
Well duh

But it really is important; and I feel I have to make it clear that quality is what is most appreciated by this forum goers, whether your story is a 100,000 word long epic, or a short but sweet poem. Most of the dedicated readers here are veterans-- they've read a lot of fanfiction over their years and seen the gamut of quality from fantastic to abysmal. They're not going to waste time on something they think is sub-par. So above all, invest deeply in your quality, and you will open up the potential for response.

I'm not going to presume I'm qualified to instruct anyone on how to write-- there are plenty of more talented writers than me (Larcent), and I don't even know if I would be a good teacher or not. But I can tell you how to JUDGE your own writing... and that is simply to be interested in your own work. If you can go back, read what you wrote, and be sincerely interested and engaged by what you have composed, then by all means you have accomplished your own goal. That's really all there is to it. Don't be intimidated by the fancy nuance to advanced writing or whatever; though there is a lot of depth to that particular-- what you write must first be interesting.



2) You Don't Need a Good Title

Quote:
You need a great one

There are 38 threads on the front page at any given time by my count, so 37 other threads that you have to compete with to get views. The number of people who bother to look further down the page decreases exponentially. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that the entire rest of the this forum gets only 5% of the viewers as the combined front page.

What this means is that it is essential that during the first few posts-- I would say the first twenty or so-- that you grab as many fans as you can before your thread is buried to the second page. That way you will have a continual stream of people who will actively bump up your thread should you update; which will get you more people, which soon will cause more people to check out your thread by the popularity of it alone. I would estimate you would have 3 days on the front page at best.

Therefore your title is essential for attracting your thread. I know a few general tips to help optimize your thread so your hard work won't be passed over. Warning: this is not a substitute for quality writing. If you ignore #1, you essentially make your thread a revolving door; people pop in, then they bail out.


  • The amount of meaning in your title must be very high, but concise. What do I mean by that? Well, it simply means, use simple words. Don't be overly verbose, especially in your title, if a clearer, simpler word can be used instead. To go a little deeper, the meaning of your words must be high in relation to how long it takes to say. Take, for example, the first draft of Dragon Rising [A Master Yi Story], named back then as Revenge and Rebirth [A Master Yi Story]. Now, at first glance they may seem similar-- but notice how little the words Revenge, Rebirth, actually mean to the reader. Ok, so Master Yi wants revenge. Something about rebirth. Whatever. It means little, sounds overtly poetic, and uses obscure language. Now, "Dragon Rising" is an improvement. It strikes more intrigue with less words. It somewhat sets the tone for a more epic journey. Be careful though, that you don't try to skimp out on words too much, or you end up with those overly poetic, dramatized titles that are so obscure not a person has a clue what your story is about, means, or what the style or type of content it is. People will avoid what they don't understand. Don't assume that people will push past their confusion to click on your thread, just because your word choice is pretty. Delivery of message trumps title length every time.
  • Your title must grab them. Duh. People have to want to click on your thread. A good example is Kog'maw and Morgana's WTF Love Story. The title is long, but that works towards its favor and it's received well because the meaning was conveyed in about as concisely as a love story between Morg and Kog could be, along with informing the reader of its tongue-in cheek style while grabbing their attention. I guarantee you by the title along, everyone has visited that thread at least once. This is good. You want as much traffic as you can. A bad example is "Zed vs Shen story!" by Tseng88. It's decently written, but the title is vapid and inspires little to the imagination. Despite the OK writing, it died quickly because of the lack of traffic along with the terrible title most likely biasing readers against him, since it was so bad (I'll get into this in the next point). I know because Tseng88 is me, and that was an experiment by me-- to see exactly if a story could actually succeed on its own merits despite a god-awful title and an unknown author. It did not. Let that be a word of caution, then.
  • Your Thread will form their impression of your work. If it's a bad title, they'll think more poorly of your work. If it's a good title, they may be more forgiving. This is because of psychology and how first impressions work-- but however it happens, it's still essential that you make your thread title as professional as possible. A good example is a professional looking title is NaNoWriMo: "Death Blindness" by Larcent. It smacks you over the head with how professional it seems; being written for this national writing contest, having a concise title, even besides it's top quality writing, it would have done well based off the prestige given to itself by the title alone. You don't want to pass up an advantage like that, not when you're competing with the rest of the forum for views and posts.
  • They must know what the thread's about. If it's a love story, make your thread title like a love story. If it's an epic journey, make your word choice like they would for a hollywood fantasy action movie. If it's a comedy, throw puns and break conventions. You must tell your audience what you have before tell will decide what they want to see. It's the same deal with, say, a Youtube video, right? You're not going to click on a video despite not knowing what it's about, and then decide if it's good. You're going to browse for your interests and then sample based off of that.


That's it for now. If you guys found this helpful, let me know and I'll write up some more tricks of the trade. But for now, I got other stuff to do. My own story for one. Procrastinating again....




3) Spend Time Formatting Your Work

This is part of your first impressions. Most people spend about 1 minute maximum browsing through a story to decide what the want to read. If you haven't hooked them by then, they're not going to waste their time; they already think they know all they need to know about what needs to be known. Word.

Anyhow, what this means is that you MUST format your work so that it is readable; since that is the first thing people notice in the initial ten seconds that they're looking around. If your work looks messy, convulted, or just plain unreadable, no one's going to fight their way through your formatting just to make sure they don't want to read it. This means capitalizing what needs to be capitalized, making absolutely sure your thread title is clear and properly spelled, this means formatting your chapter headings, your foot notes, even the flow of your paragraph structure to make your potential readers feel comfortable with your work.

Think of your readers as hotel customers. You want to make their stay aspleasant as possible. Even if that means spending an awful lot of time just messing with your formatting in the thread. It took me upwards of a half hour to finish the formatting I put up there, but paid off in readability and in the initial impressin I gave off.




4) Be Quick to Respond


Your thread is going to get replies. People will be interested in what you do provided you managed to grab their attention in the first place. What's next is to improve the author-reader relationship by ensuring you promptly reply to everything and anything your fans have to say about your work. That way you'll establish that their comments and thoughts are valued and it will encourage them to post more, which means more time on the front page for your work.

Quote:
But Miao, shouldn't I wait as long as possible before replying so my work gets more time on the front page?
Shouldn't you also punch yourself in the face for looking so stupid? Your readers are not tools to get more readers. They're people who valued your work, and if you want them to continue valuing whatever comes off your fingers and onto the screen, you have to make sure they know you value their thoughts as well. Honesty and truth will eventually net you a gain in posts as people post more since they know their author is attentive, responsive, and appreciative of their comments. By the way, never flip out on anyone. Nothing kills thread discussion like a flame war.


5) If You Have To, There's No Shame in Bumping
6) Pictures


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W4ddleBuff

Senior Member

01-07-2013

Couldn't have said it better myself.


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gr8aznmomba

Junior Member

01-07-2013

I disagree


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MiaoLong

Senior Member

01-07-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by gr8aznmomba View Post
I disagree
Oh really? REEEAALY? You wanna go? Let's go, mu'fuggah. I know taichee.


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Farnbil

Senior Member

01-07-2013

Now I know how all of my stories tanked within the first three days. I went a bit extravagant on the words and lost my audience outright. My titles are too vague and poetic. You (or anyone else who'd like a go at it) gotta help me out here, I'm lost for title ideas.

Humble Interactions nearly flopped had it not been some miracle that some big names praised it early. It's a romance between an OC and Sona with a heavy theme of self-expression.

I have plans for rewriting this story, and giving it a new title will do it a lot of good. Really, all of my story titles are not very eye-catching. If you'd like, glance at my FF.net profile and maybe drop a few words that you think would be more appealing.


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W4ddleBuff

Senior Member

01-07-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by Farnbil View Post
Now I know how all of my stories tanked within the first three days. I went a bit extravagant on the words and lost my audience outright. My titles are too vague and poetic. You (or anyone else who'd like a go at it) gotta help me out here, I'm lost for title ideas.

Humble Interactions nearly flopped had it not been some miracle that some big names praised it early. It's a romance between an OC and Sona with a heavy theme of self-expression.

I have plans for rewriting this story, and giving it a new title will do it a lot of good. Really, all of my story titles are not very eye-catching. If you'd like, glance at my FF.net profile and maybe drop a few words that you think would be more appealing.
:'D Farnbil! You're going to rewrite my favorite story? Dude. I love you.

Please don't change your poetic writing style just because people don't really look at your work. I love how all of your work is written. But I do have to agree that your titles are not eye-catching, since in this day and age long eloquent titles aren't really what draws audiences in. But another suggestion that I might add is that you maybe make your stories T. K+ doesn't really attract viewers that much.


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MiaoLong

Senior Member

01-07-2013

Just by glancing at your writing, I can tell that it's definitely not the problem. It's always awk when people ask why their stories tank, and their writing is honestly sub-par. That's not the case here, which is good.

Ok, so your title. I have to say, the title is nothing special. It does have a simple charm to it, but it seems a little easy to pass over. I'm going to assume that the story is a romance, which means you have to do two things:

1) Get people immediately interested in what happens out of the romance. We've all seen AhriX, SonaX, RivenX, whatever. At least, people who read that sort of stuff have. What you have to do is tell readers why your are different.

2) Poetic is not neccessarily bad. It's poetry without meaning that really drives away people. It's a common problem to make a title "XXXXX and XXXXX" where XXXXX is some vauge, indescriptive emotion or notion, like "Revenge and Rebirth" or some kind of poetic Champion symbol mashing, like just picking off a few titles from the front page, "A will and a shadow" or "A light in the desert" (Oh I get it! Irelia/Talon in the first one, Lux/Nasus in the second!)

Now these stories could be really, really excellent for all I know-- but their titles convey nothing more than a fancy way of stating who's in the story. I could have figured that out from the [ ___ ] thing behind it, or the character pairing. What you have to do find find a way to convey more than that in your titles.

Morg and Kog's wtf Love story is a perfect example of a title that catches your eye and tells you basically what the story is about-- a humourous love story between kog and morg. It really doesn't have to be more than that. But what you can't do is give them nothing. That's no good.

With your fanfic, I would highly recommend drawing from Sona's own quotes to serve your title. She clearly is the centerpiece of your story, so her own words, with an appropriate them of course, will work well. Since we've all heard them-- it'll add a sense of subtley and nuance to the story, something that is greatly appreciated in the romance genre.

Just off of the internet...

"With Perfect Tempo"
"A Sublime Duet"
"Allegressimo"
"Gently, Summoner"
"Harmoniously"

If the story is a more action based Sona fic...
"The Fanfare Ascends"
"A Symphony of Justice"
"Adagio, Summoner"

If it's more tragic...
"Dissonance"
"A Silent Sunder"


You get what I mean. All I did was browse Sona's background on lolwiki for a bit, and I do believe they're a bit more able to grab readers than your original title,


ALSO-- change your cover picture to a picture of Sona, and anything but that picture of the Heavy. Preferably official art, and crop it well. The pic of the Heavy makes the story seems a little.. unprofessional, no offense. Like I said, your writing is absolutely fine,


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W4ddleBuff

Senior Member

01-07-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by MiaoLong View Post
Just by glancing at your writing, I can tell that it's definitely not the problem. It's always awk when people ask why their stories tank, and their writing is honestly sub-par. That's not the case here, which is good.

Ok, so your title. I have to say, the title is nothing special. It does have a simple charm to it, but it seems a little easy to pass over. I'm going to assume that the story is a romance, which means you have to do two things:

1) Get people immediately interested in what happens out of the romance. We've all seen AhriX, SonaX, RivenX, whatever. At least, people who read that sort of stuff have. What you have to do is tell readers why your are different.

2) Poetic is not neccessarily bad. It's poetry without meaning that really drives away people. It's a common problem to make a title "XXXXX and XXXXX" where XXXXX is some vauge, indescriptive emotion or notion, like "Revenge and Rebirth" or some kind of poetic Champion symbol mashing, like just picking off a few titles from the front page, "A will and a shadow" or "A light in the desert" (Oh I get it! Irelia/Talon in the first one, Lux/Nasus in the second!)

Now these stories could be really, really excellent for all I know-- but their titles convey nothing more than a fancy way of stating who's in the story. I could have figured that out from the [ ___ ] thing behind it, or the character pairing. What you have to do find find a way to convey more than that in your titles.

Morg and Kog's wtf Love story is a perfect example of a title that catches your eye and tells you basically what the story is about-- a humourous love story between kog and morg. It really doesn't have to be more than that. But what you can't do is give them nothing. That's no good.

With your fanfic, I would highly recommend drawing from Sona's own quotes to serve your title. She clearly is the centerpiece of your story, so her own words, with an appropriate them of course, will work well. Since we've all heard them-- it'll add a sense of subtley and nuance to the story, something that is greatly appreciated in the romance genre.

Just off of the internet...

"With Perfect Tempo"
"A Sublime Duet"
"Allegressimo"
"Gently, Summoner"
"Harmoniously"

If the story is a more action based Sona fic...
"The Fanfare Ascends"
"A Symphony of Justice"
"Adagio, Summoner"

If it's more tragic...
"Dissonance"
"A Silent Sunder"


You get what I mean. All I did was browse Sona's background on lolwiki for a bit, and I do believe they're a bit more able to grab readers than your original title,


ALSO-- change your cover picture to a picture of Sona, and anything but that picture of the Heavy. Preferably official art, and crop it well. The pic of the Heavy makes the story seems a little.. unprofessional, no offense. Like I said, your writing is absolutely fine,
Except that "A Sublime Duet" is already a story title. From one of my works. :3


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Farnbil

Senior Member

01-07-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by W4ddleBuff View Post
:'D Farnbil! You're going to rewrite my favorite story? Dude. I love you.

Please don't change your poetic writing style just because people don't really look at your work. I love how all of your work is written. But I do have to agree that your titles are not eye-catching, since in this day and age long eloquent titles aren't really what draws audiences in. But another suggestion that I might add is that you maybe make your stories T. K+ doesn't really attract viewers that much.
Worry not, I'm not tampering with the style much at all. I don't care much for ratings, but that may be something I'll do.

Alright alright, here's a title:

From my heart to yours?


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MiaoLong

Senior Member

01-08-2013

Anything. Looks like you're starting to get the hang of it. Don't forget to change that pic too on FF.net


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