Tag Archives: tips

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,

Guest Post–When Writers Have To Speak


Today’s post is courtesy of Karel Henneberger, one of the Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe. You may reach her at writerKMH@gmail.com.

Writers write. Right? Right.

But sometimes writers also have to speak. In public. To a group of people. A large group of people. And not people you know.

Most people get nervous when they have to speak in front of an audience, even a small group of friends. And many find public speaking a totally paralyzing experience, mostly because we are all afraid of being publicly humiliated.

Some advisors say to picture your audience naked. Hmmm. Not a pretty picture when speaking to adults, and a worrying one when speaking to children.

But there are several things you can do to help you overcome stage fright.

First, you need to decide what you will talk about. If you are asked to speak about a particular topic–explaining, informing, or showing something, then you are well on your way. Whatever you talk about, remember that old advice–Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you told them.

Also decide whether you want to use visual aids or just wing it. Use your aids to supplement, not be your program.

There are many websites that can help you write your speech (though don’t plan to stick to the exact words you write)

Well before THE DAY:

  • Practice your speech in front of a mirror
  • Read your speech out loud
  • Read s l o w l y
    • When you’re nervous, you tend to speak and move more quickly
    • It’s hard to understand when someone speaks too fast
    • Speaking  s l o w l ynot only gives your brain a chance to catch up with your tongue, it is calming–a good thing for a speaker
  • Time it several times to make sure you’re consistent.
  • Start by READING your notes, then begin to just glance at them
  • Then try to give the speech without notes (that probably won’t work, but it will show you where you need to brush up)
  • Make very basic notes to take with you on THE DAY

Besides the speech, decide:

  • What to wear–this will depend upon your audience
    • Is the occasion casual?
    • More formal?
    • Businesslike?
  • What your audience is expecting to hear
    • New information
    • Solutions to a problem
    • Entertainment
  • Know your strengths–and weaknesses
    • If you have a weak voice, use a microphone (practice with one first)
    • If you are very tall or very short, make sure the podium, microphone, etc is set at the correct height
    • Consider the speech as a role you will play–dress the part and you’ll be more likely to act the part
    • The right clothes will make you feel more confident
    • Consider a shopping trip (a thrift store outfit won’t cost much and can be kept for similar occasions

Before walking onto that empty scary stage try one of these ideas:

  • Do meditation exercises just before going onstage–this requires learning specific techniques
  • Simply close your eyes and think of a favorite place, a place where you have been happy–this also needs some before-hand practice
  • Carry a worry stone in your pocket. When you feel yourself losing control, just slip your hand in your pocket and rub the stone

When you are standing in the middle of the stage:

  • Take three deep breaths (more might cause you to hyperventilate)
  • SMILE
    • Nobody will know you are not smiling at them
    • It will make you feel more relaxed and confident
  • Pick three people in the audience–one in front and one on each side near the back
    • While you talk, move your head from one to the other
    • This makes it appear that you are looking at most of the people in the audience.
  • If that is too hard to do, look at an empty seat, a flower arrangement, a pillar, or a decoration on the wall, again moving your head from one to the other

The three most important things to remember when you must give a speech are:

  1. Know your topic
  2. KNOW your topic
  3. KNOW YOUR TOPIC

When you know your topic thoroughly, you will find you can improvise if necessary. Know your topic so well that you can continue even if:

  • You lose your place in your notes
    • Take a deep breath and fake it
    • Joke about being clumsy (the audience will most likely laugh–go with it)
  • The lights go out
    • Joke about someone not paying its electric bill (again, laughs relax everyone)
    • Ask the audience questions about their knowledge of the topic (ask them to raise their hands if they __________.Again, laughter helps)
    • Let them ask you questions (You really know your topic, so you will have answers and if you don’t, use a politician’s ploy–give a non-answer–talk about a somewhat related subject that you do know about)
    • And DON’T MOVE AROUND THE STAGE until the lights come back on
  • Your visual aids suddenly fall to the floor
    • Say something like, “Well, if you could see it, this chart would show…” (laughs again)
    • While someone picks up your stuff, go on to the next part of your speech.

Really KNOWING your topic will let you turn a potential disaster into a success. And success will give you confidence. Confidence will make it easier to give the next speech. So, don’t be afraid to be a writer who speaks.

Simple Ways to Protect Your Internet Privacy


Would you hang a sign in front of your house with your name, date of birth, social security number and private family information in large block letters for anyone driving by to read and record? No, unless you want a ton of trouble.

Sometimes those using modern communication devices like a smart phone, iPad or portable computing device hang information about themselves out there for the taking. Kashmir Hill of Forbes magazine offers tips to protect your privacy.

  • Password protect all your devices. This keeps someone from casually reading your messages or documents. So many internet writers confess to reading other people’s messages when left alone with a friend’s device.
  • Use Google Alert to find out what others are saying about you on-line. It takes 60 seconds to fill out the form. http://www.google.com/alerts
  • Sign out when you finish on e-mail, bank sites, auction or retail sales sites or social media. This is especially important if you are using someone else’s device. Don’t leave the door open to your private information.
  • Use cash to buy things. Data mining companies know about your on-line and credit card purchases and sell that information to others. Next thing you know, you are bombarded with ads from embarrassing vendors who bought your name from a list.
  • Set your Facebook page to Friends Only. No need to share your private life with the world — or ID thieves.
  • Clear your browser history and cookies routinely. Hackers love to snoop to see where you’ve been on-line.
  • Use an IP masker to confuse those snooping on you. Check https://www.torproject.org/ for more information.

 

Vividness and Density–The Key Qualities of a Book


Our lesson today comes from author Philip Roth, whose work is read around the world. Several of Roth’s books have inspired movies. Roth speaks to us with candor about qualities that make a book successful and pleasing to the reader.

Background Music–Inspiration for Writing


Background Music–Inspiration for Writing.

Author Brad Geagley offers a tip to put you in the mood when writing. It’s a quick read and gives food for thought. Who knows. Maybe this tactic will work for you. A cure for writer’s block.