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Want to write for The Dream Shake? Here's how

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Show us your stuff. ... Wait, pull your pants up. That's not what I meant.

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We're always looking for new readers at The Dream Shake, and we want more of your from the community to join the ranks. Football is over, so a lot of you will have all this free sports time on your hands. Put it to good use!

The awesome Chris Faulkner at Grizzly Bear Blues wrote a long piece detailing the path to writing for his sight. I thought it was so good that I stole it and replaced Grizzlies with Rockets and GBB with TDS. (Apologies if any of the links go to their site, I tried to change them all to the appropriate one.

Take it away, Bizarro Rockets fan Chris:

So you've been reading about the Houston Rockets here at The Dream Shake for a while now. You're familiar with how our game coverage works, you pop in for a few comments every now and then, tweet at some of the staff on Twitter. Or maybe you're a hardcore lurker, still consuming all the Rockets goodness we post, but doing so in a shroud of anonymity.

You obviously come here to read our material because it in some way reflects some of your own thoughts. But then one day something goes down in Rockets land. After pillaging through everything that TDS has to say on the issue, you realize that WE'RE MISSING SOMETHING!!

Hey, it happens. I'll openly admit that I do not know everything, especially when it comes to the NBA. And sometimes the staff and I simply just don't have time to get all angles covered.

So you sit and stare at your computer, tablet, or phone. You're fuming with ideas that are well conceived and thought through. You don't want to start a discussion in the comment thread because what you have to say requires more text, and pictures, and links, and charts, and you want it to look nice so that your argument comes off well.

I present to you:

TDS FanPosts

This section of the site is primarily meant for you all, the communal contingent of TDS. What it allows you to do is create an article that's nearly identical to the layout and function as the actual articles we publish here. You can insert links, pictures, videos, GIFs ... nearly anything that's got an HTML embed.

Here's an example of what you'll be looking at:

But you don't have to get fancy to use FanPosts. They can be as simple as a text composition with some of your ideas and thoughts.

Here are just some of the examples of what you can use FanPosts to do:

  • Start discussions with other TDS or SB Nation members. You can even create a poll that people can vote on.
  • Analyze statistical trends or break down the performance of a player
  • React to Rockets news or NBA news that affects the Rockets
  • Analyze trades, or even create your own hypothetical trades for discussion!
  • See something on social media that you want to react to? You can embed tweets, Vines, Instagrams, and Facebook posts directly into the articles to start your talking point!
  • Maybe you're an artist and you want to show off something you created with Rockets subject matter. Yes!
  • Do you want to write something humorous or goofy like comparing the Rockets roster to Weezer albums or The Wire? Superb. Satire is very welcome at TDS.
  • Maybe you want to react to something that another writer on TDS or elsewhere has written. Bueno! Just remember:

Use FanPosts to create original material that is composed of your own thoughts!

The world is your oyster as long as you follow some guidelines:

  • FanPosts are NOT for linking to articles, videos, or any material on the internet without a minimum of 150 words of commentary on the subject. If you just want to link a video and say "Hey guys, check out this awesome video" then head over to the FanShots section. Don't worry, there will be more on that later!
  • FanPosts are NOT for copying/pasting material from your own blog or publication (or from other people's blogs or publication -- that's plagiarism and will get you in trouble.) If you want to bring attention to your outside publication then, once again, you'll need to head over to FanShots.
  • FanPosts are NOT for asking one-line questions to the community. 
    WRONG: "What do you all think about (player A) guarding (player B)?"
    RIGHT: "I think (player A) is going to dominate (player B) because (insert at least 150 words of insightful commentary.) What do you all think?"
  • FanPosts are NOT for advertising something you're selling. That goes for merchandise, access, tickets, employment... whatever. No selling things, that's what craigslist and eBay are for. The two exceptions are advertising benefits for approved charities and offering free/extra tickets to Rockets games.
  • And always follow the TDS Community Guidelines.

Some of the benefits of posting well composed FanPosts:

  • Firstly, you get to exercise your responsibly used freedom of speech. Writing is good for the mind and good for the soul!
  • If your FanPost is something I think people will enjoy reading, I will pull it from the FanPost section and publish it live on the cover of The Dream Shake! That's right, the fancy cover photo, headline, and usually I'll polish up a few other aspects for you, too.
  • Besides winning the affections of the TDS community, I also promote our material on social media and feed it to the Google machine! People from all over the world could be reading your work.

Tips for writing FanPosts:

  • Be original.
  • Use proper grammar and spelling to ensure no one is distracted from the point you're trying to make. We all make mistakes, but giving your FanPost a couple of proofreads will do wonders for presentation most of the time.
  • Use paragraph breaks for large blocks of text. The quickest to get people to NOT read your FanPost is to present them with the dreaded WALL OF TEXT WALL OF TEXT WALL OF TEXT WALL OF TEXT WALL OF TEXT WALL OF TEXT WALL OF TEXT WALL OF TEXT WALL OF TEXT WALL OF TEXT WALL OF TEXT WALL OF TEXT WALL OF TEXT WALL OF TEXT WALL OF TEXT.
  • By all means, use humor in your FanPosts. Be as funny as you like, but just remember to follow the TDS community guidelines.
  • When in doubt about something you want to post, email me.

I mentioned FanShots as a required alternative to some of the material you can post to TDS. Let's delve into the use of them now.

TDS FanShots

This section is one of the most important of the site because it's how you and I can create "quick hits" to links and media all over the internet in just SECONDS. Then those quick hits can be enjoyed by all Rockets fans and easily accessed on TDS.

Here are some of the things you can link TDS to with FanShots:

  • URL links, obviously. That would be the URL of any page you want readers of TDS to visit. That includes articles on the Rockets from anywhere on the web like ESPN, NBA.com, other Rockets blogs.
  • Quotes. Maybe a player, coach, analyst or anyone relevant said something interesting about the Grizzlies and you just want to display what they said and your reaction to it. As long as you can find a clickable source for the quote, anything that someone says on record is fair game.
  • Images. If you can provide a URL for the image, the FanShot will automatically display the picture. Add in a caption or commentary to give us some contest. This also includes GIFs!
  • Video. It will have to be a video with an embed code (anything on YouTube), but FanShooting videos is one of the best features on TDS.
  • Other media that you can link with FanShots that will fall under one of the categories listed above: Tweets, Vines, Facebook posts, Instagram videos and photos

Use FanShots to share interesting Grizzlies related content with the rest of GBB!

Here's what you'll be looking at when composing FanShots.

You'll notice the menu tab at the top for Link, Quote, Image, Video -- clicking on each will provide you the different forms. Make sure to include a good title that tells readers what's going on, and add in your own take in the description (not required, but encouraged.)

Tips for FanShots:

  • Make sure we haven't already linked to the material you're FanShooting!
  • Keep the material relevant. We don't need updates on celebrity gossip, other sports, recipes, or other nonsense that has nothing to do with the Rockets.
  • Use the right FanShot for the right job:

We want you involved here at TDS!

Use these great tools to find your voice and make your presence known!