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Mike Sowden
Mike Sowden: Story hacker, word geek, chronic misadventurer
Mike Sowden: Story hacker, word geek, chronic misadventurer

Mike Sowden's posts

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A few years ago I briefly worked with the editorial team at WordPress .com, sifting through the tens of thousands of blogs on that platform, looking for really great blog posts to promote.

Most were along the lines of "sorry I haven't written - I don't know what to say" or "it's been months and I feel really bad about not writing, LOL".

And then I found out that 95% of blogs are abandoned. And then I got really, really interested about why.

The answer is storytelling - and now, years later, I have an 8-week course on it, aimed at bloggers but also applicable for anyone with an online business or creative offering. I've just relaunched it, it's called "Open Loop" - and it's discounted until the end of September:

If you want to get really, really clear about what you're doing in and around your blog, I think you'll get a lot out of this course - and I'd love to see you in there.



#blogging #blogchat #storytelling

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The US State Department just released an unhelpfully vague worldwide travel alert that's already freaking out a lot of people.

So here's what I think about that.

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Rome? Nope. London? No sir. This is Belfast, and I never thought it looked as grand as this. Actually, until recently it kinda didn't. Huge parts of the city are being redeveloped - but as you can see, it's already a bit of a looker. I took this on a rainy morning last week - and that afternoon, the sun came out and it was cloudless blue skies for 48 hours. So when the sun's out, this view probably looks even better.

(I was in Belfast on behalf of Must Love Festivals - - as a guest of +Discover Northern Ireland.)

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Montserrat, Catalonia, will punch the breath right out of you.

Just outside Barcelona, the floor of Catalonia is pierced with rock - huge fingers of pink sedimentary stone rising over a kilometre into the sky, dragging incredible amounts of terrain with them. From a distance, this colossal ridge looks like a broken saw-blade - hence its name, Montserrat, "saw mountain".

There's a cable-car up the side of it (yellow, 85 years old, originally built in Liepzig, with a tendency to sway when you're over the most alarming drops). At first, it's hard to see why anyone but the most outdoorsy or misanthropic would be tempted to ascend - but then you peer upwards and squint, and you can see buildings. Lots of them. In fact, a whole monastery's worth.

If you go up by cable-car, you're taking the shortest, easiest route. Being so huge, the mountain is accessible in all sorts of ways, via villages, road-sides, all sorts of improvised entry-points. You can spend most of the day getting up there on foot, scrambling up rock-cut paths and feeling like an extremely inexperienced mountain goat. Once there, if you're carrying a bivvy-bag, good news! You can sleep where you like. It's one of the few places in Catalonia where bivvy-bagging is officially unrestricted.

But however you get up there - do get up there. The view will blow your mind.

(A round trip to Montserrat is 20 Euros from central Barcelona, cable-car ride included, or somewhat cheaper if your tolerance for self-inflicted suffering is a bit higher. Either way, take lots of water. Lots of it.)
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How To Become A Travel Writer: Some Advice For Beginners in 2015

In short: it's complicated. (But exciting!)

#travel #writing

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Dear folk of a certain age - this is what British pound coins used to look like.

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Sick of articles telling you how important storytelling is for your writing and marketing - and then stopping right there?

Feeling like it's the new "content is king", speaking the bleedin' obvious in a way that's useful to nobody? 

Yeah. I can't blame you - and I teach it. There's a lot of flimsy, lazy nonsense on the Web about storytelling. (Here's a delicious McSweeney's Internet Tendency post, ridiculing the whole scene: Apparently it's this awesome thing you really need in your branding...waves hands in a vague manner...and it's critical for your business if you want to make people care. So you need to use storytelling! Use it! End Of Annoying Article. 

Not. Good. Enough. 

I've been helping individuals and small businesses with their storytelling for the last 2 years. (Here's how I got started: I know this stuff is important, and I know it's powerful - but I also know it's not some mystical quality that only the most self-important of us can work with.

In fact, storytelling is simple. It's an emotional toolkit for unlocking human beings, and it's freely available to everyone. And yes - it works.

So - I made an e-mail course, in which I explain what storytelling is, why it's so powerful for bloggers, and how successful people are using it online. The course is totally free, and it's here:

So if you're feeling a bit befuddled by this word, have a read. Hope you find it useful.


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Thought for the day...

#travel   #adventure   #misery    #microadventures  

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Want to find the best view of the city when you're visiting Barcelona? Climb this hill and visit this anti-aircraft battery turned deserted shanty-town. It's well worth your time.

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Gleaned from four years of blogging, client work and ranting at conferences, here's everything I've learned about telling a good story that makes people care about your blog.

Blog post series:
E-mail course:
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