Tag Archives: create

Tips for a Better Blog from Janine Russell


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.

blogger Janine Russell

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,

When Life Throws You a Curve Ball


It’s crazy. Just when I have plotted out my life for the next umpteen months and settled back to work the plan, Life throws me a curve ball. It shouldn’t surprise me.

Enough seasons have passed through my earth-bound existence that I should know better than to think any long-term plan will play out exactly as I have envisioned it. It must be the optimist in me, for I keep planning.

Or maybe it’s my insanity. You know the old definition of lunacy: doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different outcome.

However, my recent roadblocks are just that–little obstacles. The unanticipated hiccups don’t really change my plans. My destination is still the same: write books. Now, I will have a few detours through unfamiliar neighborhoods. That can be a good thing, right? It adds color, dimensions, flavor to my collection of life experience.

I’ll stop rambling and be more concrete.

I make my living by farming. I make hay, cut wood, and grow vegetables for selling. This year I planned to add the sale of landscaping stone to my product line. Due to another hiccup in my life plan, my way of making a living was to be more important than ever in 2013. But. . . .

Karma has other plans. I have torn my rotator cuff. I am scheduled for surgery soon and will be convalescing for six months afterward. No farming this season. No farming means no income.

Thankfully, there is nothing wrong with my brain. So I have to ask myself, is the Universe clearing a path for me to write?

I’m Off My Meds Again!


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!

Feed Your Head


No, this is not a reference to the newly legalized pot smoking that’s going on in Washington and Colorado.

Tyler Durden says:

Isaac Newton, the father of classical mechanics and progenitor of nearly every technology we use today, was easily one of the top 10 most influential minds in all of human history… Yet as accomplished as he was, Newton credited the brilliant scientists and philosophers who came before him, acknowledging that his insights would not have been remotely possible without the foundations laid by great thinkers– Archimedes, da Vinci, Descartes, etc. No doubt, all great ideas flourish by expanding upon the works of others.

GodfreyKneller-IsaacNewton-1689

As writers, we have our own influences; those whom we revere and those whom we emulate in style or content. It’s the ‘taking in’ that gives the creative brain the puzzle pieces to connect to make a picture. The creation coming from the mind of an author is a bit like compost. A myriad of articles go into the bin to churn and percolate. Then out the other side comes a rich, aromatic, fertile product. It is a by-product of what went in, yet it looks nothing like the original articles that created it.

Today’s task is simple. Feed your head. Give it something to write about tomorrow.

Throw Enough at the Wall. . .


. . . and something will stick.

I used that quotation in yesterday’s response to Rarasaur. Immediately, I knew I had to share a motivational thought with you.

Having several irons in the fire can be a good thing, providing you are continually working to complete the projects. Eventually, you will finish a project, then another, then another. As a writer, this means that you will end up with several salable items.

This tactic only works for folks like me whose brains like to jump from one thing to another to avoid boredom. It won’t work for those who start things, but never finish them. You have to finish the projects. It’s finishing them that brings a pay day.

Rarasaur has a good method. She has a list and a concrete goal for each item listed; for example, creating one idea a day for thirty days for a book project. At the end of a month, she will have thirty possibilities to consider for her next writing project. Of the thirty on her list, one is bound to seize her imagination.

You may want to try the “many irons” approach to see if it works for you. The key to success is devising your own method to complete the projects on your list.

“It Was Melancholy that Made Me Write”


Howard Jacobson believes melancholy is a required ingredient of the artist’s temperament. It is the melancholy person who thinks of creating art in the first place. Artistic endeavors are always imbued with melancholy. He says:

CHEERFUL PEOPLE DON’T WRITE NOVELS. CHEERFUL PEOPLE DON’T MAKE ART. THEY BECOME SPORTSMEN.

The Importance of Beginning Well


The Importance of Beginning Well.

The reader is king.

So, I went looking for what a reader believes makes  “a good book.” Reader Subhakar Das shares a thought that should be obvious: he says begin well when telling a story.

Subhakar Das says “There’s nothing quite like a book that grips from the very first line. As a reader I attach a great deal of importance to the first sentence. Every time I open a new book to the first page it is with trepidation for I feel that if the first sentence is not quite right, the whole book will be a disappointment. It is a sentiment shared. But is the first sentence that important?”

As an author, I am guilty of ignoring the power of the opening line. Sure, I understand that the first sentence needs to hook my reader. What I fail to appreciate is the damage done by a poor opening. Agents and acquiring editors will quit reading if the opening sentence doesn’t impress them. Booker Prize winner Ben Okri says that if the first sentence of a book does not grab him, he is liable to close the book then and there.

Ouch!

Das explains, “The magic of the first sentence of a book can also inspire the writer in you. This is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s impression of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis for before books were meant to help him sleep. He writes: ‘But this time the effect was just the opposite: I never again slept with my former serenity.’ The first sentence he was talking about was: ‘As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed into a gigantic insect.’ Such was the effect of Kafka’s writing, Marquez did not go to the university for the next few days for fear the spell would be broken.”

My advice? Re-examine the opening in the manuscript you are about to hand off to an editor. Be sure it is a zinger!