For details, go here. It doesn’t matter where you live, you can take this course on-line!
Rarasaur turned me on to this post by braithanlithe.wordpress.com. It shares the author’s personal trials and triumphs in the Twitter world. It’s a good Twitter tutorial for new Tweeters. (Sorry. I just couldn’t resist the alliteration, for according to T, I am a writer.)
Here’s the link: And dipping a toe in Twitter. I’ve pasted a large excerpt below to give you the meat of it. Braitanlithe gives helpful guidance–and the “why” behind it. I skimmed her post, thinking I’d pick up a kernel or two, then decided to re-post it here because there is a feast: it’s too much for my feeble mind to hold onto in one reading. I want to read and re-read it.
Rarasaur, as always, I love you for your helpful ways. XOXO.
Just the other day, Rarasaur posted about how she was planning to use her Twitter account (you can find out at her blog or on Twitter @rarasaur). I got interested in the discussion as lots of folk were saying the exact same things as I had, before I tried it. Stuff along the lines of ‘hmm, I can’t say anything in less than 140 characters’ or ‘I can’t/don’t want to be constantly online looking at a Twitter stream’, or ‘I just don’t get the point of it’. I posted a comment summarising my thoughts after trying Twitter out for a couple of months and Rara (bless her, much smarter than me!) suggested it could be the basis of a blog post that might be helpful for others who are contemplating whether they want to use Twitter or not. So here it is.
I completely agree with the brevity thing. I’m pretty long-winded, and it’s a whole art form in itself, learning to say a lot in a few words. You could think of it like haiku…
Another option is you don’t have to say anything at all. There is no obligation to send a certain amount of Tweets, or indeed any. My ‘real-life-non-virtual’ friend who persuaded me to try Twitter doesn’t write Tweets. She just follows news and other organisations and people she is interested in.
After two months using it, I am still ambivalent about Twitter, but then that’s true of blogging too – if I pause to think, I am freaked out at the idea anyone, anywhere, could read what I write. I feel vulnerable about that and, as I said in the last post, I also felt vulnerable about starting out in Twitter knowing nobody who would want to ‘follow’ or chat to me. I moved schools a few times as a young child, and it brought back all those feelings of standing on the edge of the classroom or playground thinking ‘will anyone talk to me? will anyone like me?’ Ugh. I still hate going to actual parties, unless I know lots of the people there.
But even though I felt like that, and I’m still ambivalent, I say: give Twitter a try. It has benefits, and if you don’t like it – you can just stop.
If you’re thinking about using Twitter, a really helpful guide is ‘Tweet Right’ by author Nicola Morgan. She has a website and blog at http://www.nicolamorgan.com. ‘Tweet Right’ and her other e-books such as ‘Write to be Published’ developed out of her earlier website, http://helpineedapublisher.blogspot.co.uk/. If you don’t have an e-book reader, or you want to get a flavour of her writing voice, all the archived posts are still there.
‘Tweet Right’ contains lots of useful information and tips, including etiquette. Here, I’m only going to flag up one important thing that Morgan rightly emphasises is vital: remember to use your normal social skills.
If a friend invited you to dinner at her house with a group of her other friends you hadn’t met before, you wouldn’t walk in yelling ‘Read my blog post about diamonds and zen!’ Or at least I hope not. You’d get chatting, show interest in people, listen – then perhaps later in the evening when someone asked you how you spent your time, you might say ‘I work in a diamond mine / I’m a monk / I write …’ and if they were interested, you’d tell them about your blog/book. I think Nicola Morgan and others refer to it as the 80/20 rule – i.e. at least 80% of your tweets should not be self-promotion or product selling. Ideally, I think almost none of them should be self-promotion. But then, I’m Scottish.
Having hung out in Twitter for just two months, I have already ‘unfollowed’ an author who did nothing but Tweet several times a day about her own books and where you could buy them. Whereas, to take another author example, Joanne Harris (Chocolat, blueeyedboy, etc.) rarely does that – she tells you things she’s up to, Tweets stories in instalments, and sets little fun writing challenges that she wants you to contribute to.
Once you’ve set up the Publicize function in WordPress to link your blog to Twitter (and, if you wish, to other social media sites like Facebook), my tip would be not to let it send automatic Tweets.
When you are in the Dashboard, writing a post, there is a box at the right titled ‘Publish’, with the buttons ‘save draft’, ‘preview’, etc. It also has:
Well, obviously that’s my own one – you won’t be publicising your posts on my Twitter! But the crucial thing is that ‘Edit’ button. If you don’t click that and put your own words in, all that anyone who follows you on Twitter will see is the title of your blog post and a clickable link which always begins ‘wp.me’ So if I forget to click my Edit button and change that, this post would simply be publicised as a Tweet that said ‘And dipping a toe in Twitter wp.me,blahblah’.
I have noticed that when I am looking down my Twitter home page, I am more inclined to read and be interested in things that are a little more detailed and personal. So, when I’m ready to publish this post, I’ll click Edit and change it a little – perhaps something as simple as ‘I just wrote a post about how I’m getting on as a Twitter newbie. Thanks for the suggestion, @rarasaur!’
I don’t have a smartphone, the time, or the inclination to be looking at my Twitter feed constantly or even often. I just vowed to myself I would have Twitter on for at least half an hour a day while checking my email or blog, and dip into it to read bits, and send at least one Tweet a day myself. Most of those Tweets are just replies to someone. You can show Tweets and your Twitter link on the sidebar of your Home page by going into the WordPress Dashboard, then Appearance, then Widgets. I think the options vary with different themes – mine lets me show a minimum of my three most recent Tweets (I’d prefer it to show just one, which some themes seem to allow).
It does feel hard to get started if you don’t know anyone who uses Twitter, but I’m glad I did. I’m working at home in a remote rural area – and there are lots of writers on Twitter, so it’s a bit like having a wee chat in the corridor if you work in an office. Sure, it might just be trivia, but trivia can take you some unexpected places, and it can be nice making a little connection with someone you’d never bump into in the normal course of things. Even famous folk with eleventy-million followers are human beings who sometimes enjoy interacting with other human beings.
Twitter can also bring new people to your blog – for example, a sighthound rescue organisation, that I had been following since I joined up, Retweeted the link for my greyhound post to all their Facebook followers, and I got more readers in a day than I ever had before.
It’s definitely a good way of news-gathering. You can ‘follow’ newspapers and magazines and you will get Tweet summaries of things in the headlines. If you want to know more, you can click on the link in the Tweet to go straight to the relevant article.
My final benefit is that Twitter can sometimes fling a bit of unexpected, heartwarming positivity into your day. For example:
Joanne Harris was having a daily advent calendar writing event. On the 17th of December, it was:
‘Door 17: The best Christmas present you ever had, rescued from the archives of time and tied with a scarlet ribbon’
I replied with:
‘Age 8 – stilts AND striped socks with separate toes. Magic legs & the giddy feeling of being taller than Daddy’
Joanne Harris liked it enough to Retweet it to all her 9,000 followers. Which was enough in itself to make me smile. Then not long after that, I got a Tweet from someone I’d never met, saying it had inspired her to buy stilts for her 8 year old daughter’s Christmas. Which completely made my day – although I was a bit nervous her daughter might either think they were boring, or fall off them and end up in Casualty on Boxing Day! However, all’s well that ends well – I heard yesterday that they were ‘the best present ever’ and the little girl can go forwards and backwards on them already, though she hasn’t tried stairs yet. Thankfully.
That’s the kind of thing that can really put on a smile on your face when you are sitting alone on a chilly, wet January day, slogging through to the end of an interminable first draft. So, I’ll be keeping up my Twitter account for the forseeable future.
If I compose a tweet on Twitter, who sees it?
And how does one garner followers anyway?
I am begging you experienced Tweeters to write a guest post here on the topic Twitter for Dummies. Go to my profile for my e-mail address. Let’s talk, er, tweet.
OMG! As usual I am a decade behind everyone else in using new technology. Writers are supposed to be clever folks, light years ahead of everyone else, right? Sadly, I don’t fit the mold.
At last, I am actually using Twitter. . .from time to time. . .when I remember. . .at least I opened an account and tied it to this blog.
Find me and follow @MooreFay. We’re only a tweet away. . .when I figure out how to use the #$@%$ thing.
Are you in the midst of the winter doldrums? Nothing works better to lift spirits than a bit of spring cleaning. Why not start with your blog?
The Cutest Blog On Earth offers free seasonal templates to perk up your space.
My sister sent me the link as a Valentine’s Day gift, so when you click on it, it may take you to “chocolates and roses” motifs. But wander around the site and you’ll find LOTS to keep you occupied!
Re-posted from Janine Russell’s blog at http://sitdownatatypewriterandbleed.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/an-amateur-bloggers-tips-for-creating-a-better-than-amateur-blog/
Creating A Better-Than-Amateur Blog
When I surpassed 50 followers, I wrote a post thanking all my readers for listening, and got a lot of feedback. I got asked how I created a blog that 50 people thought was worth reading in just 2 months, so I decided to make this post. (Not that I think my blog is super great or anything. Cause I don’t. I just try to make something that I would want to read.) So here are some ideas that might help take your blog to the next level.
Actually, I liked that thing I just said. Let’s make that #1.
1. Make a blog you would want to read.
This is your space. You have freedom to make it something that is 100% uniquely you. So don’t be afraid to change things that aren’t working for you to make it better. I’ve redone my “About Me” page, which should be quite simple, about 10 times. And I will continue to do so until I’m happy with it. This step will also help you figure out who you are writing for. Knowing your audience will help you write posts that those people will find interesting.
2. Feel what you write.
When I’m creating a post, it usually takes no more than a few minutes to fully formulate it (and maybe you can tell? I hope not.). That’s because I write about things that are important to me, or that I’m passionate about, and it all flows out very naturally. Don’t be afraid to infuse your personality into your style of writing, either. This isn’t a grade 9 essay. If you’re trying to struggle through a post, why are you writing about that topic in particular? Is there something else that really spikes your interest instead?
3. What are you trying to accomplish here?
Come up with an overall theme. It doesn’t have to be too specific. If you are just writing about whatever comes to mind, and sometimes it’s really dull, your readers will be able to tell. Even a very general idea, like “travelling” or “food” or “parenting” will make your blog flow better and keep you focused. And you don’t want your blog to seem bipolar or schizophrenic in its content. (Metaphorically, of course. I mean don’t try to do everything at once. You might have two very clear themes, which would make two awesome blogs. Putting them together, though, might make your blog seem confusing and overly broad. A blog about schizophrenia would probably be really cool.)
4. Look around for inspiration.
There are so many awesome blogs out there! Check some of them out! And don’t be afraid to like things and leave comments. It’s an easy way to possibly bring traffic into your site as well from people with similar interests. Notice how people are using titles, pictures, videos, menus, categories, etc. and how those things make the blog unique or easy to navigate.
5. Watch your tone.
I was reading one blog where the person was just bitching about things. And as good as it feels to get that stuff off your chest every once in a while, it isn’t too pleasant to read. Reading hate just spikes my blood pressure and gets me all worked up. I do that enough on my own, thanks. So think about how you want your work to come across, and speak accordingly. Swearing too much is also a no-no because it makes you sound rude and uneducated. (But like all rules, there is a time and a place for swearing, depending on what you blog about. If I see a cookie recipe riddled with curse words, I will flip a table.) AND TRY NOT TO YELL. IT IS ALSO VERY UNPLEASANT.
6. Not everything you write will be a goldmine.
I have done a lot of posts where no one liked it, and that whole day just became a big crevice in my stats report. That’s good, though, because now I know what people don’t care to read about, or maybe it was the style of writing that pushed people away. Making mistakes is a good thing because it gives you feedback you can learn from. Even the best writers write terrible things sometimes.
7. Post often.
I follow a lot of blogs, but some of them only get updated once a month or so. And now I’m questioning why I’m following them since they never say anything. Also, after a few hours your posts get pushed down the list and replaced by newer ones, so posting often increases your chances of bringing in new readers. You don’t need to post every day, but if you can make some sort of schedule where you’re posting at least once per week, your readers will hang on to hear what you have to say next.
8. Tag smartly.
I was definitely guilty of not doing this when I first started. Tags are a good thing to help people who would be interested in your blog discover it. Think about what you might search for, though, and use only those tags. For example, if last Wednesday your dog got sick and you had to take it to the hospital, don’t take it “Wednesday, dog, sick, hospital”, but instead using things like “dog lovers, family” etc. No one is looking for posts about Wednesdays.
9. Don’t be afraid to say what you mean.
Some of the best posts I’ve read are about things that people are hesitant to talk about. A little bit of controversy can be a good thing if you’re able to do it respectfully and not attacking people who have conflicting views. It will keep your blog interesting, and make people want to hear what you have to say next. Don’t be afraid to shake things up once in a while.
10. This is not a diary.
Well, actually some might be, but those are the exception. You don’t need to give all the details of everything you’ve ever done,
Without any serious marketing as such, Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe (Hmmmm. Is that singular or plural?) has sold 35 copies of the anthology to date.
And there are two reviews written and posted on Amazon.com. Reading the reviews was exciting. It gave insight and feedback to us on our work.
The sales break down like this:
Amazon.com 34 copies sold
Barnes & Noble 1 copy sold
Several copies have been purchased by the dining patrons of the Desert Rose Cafe. Owner Rose Harris reported there is a lively interest in the book and how the group came to publish it.
Perhaps, in the near future, there will be a “Meet the Writers” event, which may garner a bit of newspaper coverage. That event, or a complimentary newspaper article, may yield a couple of more sales.
What can be done now to sell books?
I have to buckle down and prepare press releases. All of the writers group members need to promote the book on their own social media, blog or web site. This year, I postponed sending out my Christmas letter. I want to write a New Year’s letter and include a promotional blurb in it about the book. Next, I need to put on my thinking cap to figure out other ways to exploit the “local writer” designation.
In sales, they teach you to sell first to family, then to friends or acquaintances, then to neighbors or the local market, then beyond. Until a writer has established himself, the likeliest buyer is someone who knows him or knows of him.
Finally, I need to utilize the “store” component here on WordPress. Obviously, visitors to this site should be able to buy the book.
The lesson in all of this?
Sales don’t magically happen for an author. To sell books, an author has to promote his or her books. That means getting creative so that whatever selling the writer does is effective and affordable.
Writers hate marketing. However, it is a necessary evil, especially for the new author.
Don’t overlook the sales that can be generated by friends or family. Word of mouth is always the best sales tool. A person who reads and likes your book is the most credible advertiser. Ask for help to promote your book.
I would love to hear from other independent authors about the success you’ve had selling your books. Please share the lessons you’ve learned, the mistakes you’ve made or the tactics that have succeeded. In what venue did you sell the majority of your books? Where did things fizzle? What was hard? What worked well?
Talk to me. I am all ears.
Listening to advice from friends, I am going to start other blogs to carry topics unrelated to writing, instead of clogging the space here. Since my favorite off-topic interest is off-the-wall stories in our modern or pop culture, the first new blog is called “I’m Off My Meds Again” and can be found at http://www.offmymedsagain.wordpress.com. It’s MY platform for MY craziness. If you love the world of abnormal, bizarre, whacko things, then you’ll love this space. If crazy talk isn’t your cup of tea, stay away!
For my science fans, here’s a nugget about a celestial show you may want to watch.
Comet PANSTARRS: March 10 to 24, 2013
Comet PANSTARRS discovered in June 2011 using the Pan-STARRS 1 Telescope at Haleakala, Hawaii, is expected to put on its best show during this two-week period. During this time, the comet will also be near its closest approaches to the sun (28 million miles, or 45 million kilometers), and Earth (102 million miles, or 164 million km).
While Comet PANSTARRS was a very dim and distant object at the time of its discovery, it has brightened steadily since then. It still appears on target to reach at least first magnitude and should be visible low in the west-northwest sky shortly after sunset. On the evening of March 12, 2013, the comet will be situated 4 degrees to the right of an exceedingly crescent moon.
Why mention this now instead of in March?
Because, for those of you who write for social media like Yahoo news or e-How, now you have a time critical subject to research, write about, and sell! If you are unfamiliar with this market, as easy place to start is ezinearticles.com. Click here for the editorial guidelines: http://ezinearticles.com/editorial-guidelines/
Ezinearticles doesn’t pay for articles, but it does offer affiliate marketing. Advertisers link to your articles and you get paid for click throughs. It’s not big or easy money, but it is a place to start to learn the ropes.
Check out Associated Content. It pays for articles outright.
If you are a blogger, get paid to post at Blogger’s Pay Per Post. There are strings attached, but you can earn from $.50 to $10. per assignment piece.
Bukisa is a traffic driven buyer. So you have to write on popular topics to draw a paycheck. However, Bukisa allows you to re-post material that has been published elsewhere. So using Bukisa can double earnings on non-exclusive material.
This gives you plenty to start your at-home writing career. So start researching that comet heading our way, write an article or two, and sell, sell, sell.
On WordPress, I continue to be amazed by the collection of talent. Sometimes an author’s writing floors me with its power, cleverness, raw emotion or beautiful use of language.
I am none of those things. I am a nerd who can correctly string together a series of words. As a writer–as a word artist–I am average.
How then do I expect to compete in the commercial marketplace? The same way an average employee competes in the workplace. By showing up. By giving my best effort. And like a tidal wave, by sheer volume. A dose of self-promotion is important, too. If I don’t market, I won’t sell. (Please don’t stop reading here. The best of this post is yet to come.)
I’ve said this before and I will say it again: throw enough at a wall and something will stick.
Part of succeeding as an average writer is finding my audience. I do that by writing in all the ways that appeal to me–short stories, haiku, flash fiction and novels. (In 2013, I hope to add internet content to the list.) Then I analyze. Of those things I like to write, what are people reading?
I need to look at my statistics. What do statistics tell me about what readers like in my work? Is it my true confessions? Is it self-improvement or how-to articles? Pop culture? Or factual pieces? Humorous stories? The off-the-wall?
Success is finding the match of my abilities with a need in the marketplace.
Ask the reader.
So I am asking you right now. What do you like best about this blog? Why do you stop by? Is there something which you’d like to see more often? Any answer is a helpful one. Silence hurts. So tell me something, anything, that will make this blog a better experience for you. Even if it is what you don’t like. Say, “Fay, dump this. Keep that.” Bring it on. Help me get better.
For me, that’s what it is all about. The best part is serving, helping, pleasing you, the reader.
The next best part is getting good enough to earn a paycheck! But that’s another post for another day. 🙂