Category Archives: Social Networking

Ditching the website, still The Word Shark

Ditching the website

I’ve decided to ditch The Word Shark DOT com (and the cost).

Why?

Because most of my clients come from referrals or my blog, not the website. Most of the traffic on my website comes from “marketing professionals” and “sales professionals” who know the “sure fire way” to turn my site around and make a bigger profit.

Profit margin vs. website cost

Over the last few years, about 95% of the traffic on my website is from scummy, spammy spammers.

100% of my business comes from satisfied customer referrals.

Word of mouth

I don’t need a website. I’ve got a tribe of happy, satisfied clients to plump my pillows at night.

Still Shark

While I won’t be – officially via a website – The Word Shark, I’ll always be YOUR Word Shark.

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Filed under Branding & Platform, Editing & Proofreading, Social Networking

Going with the burn-out flow

IMG_1851About a year and a half ago, I realized I was experiencing social networking burn-out. It just got worse and worse.

I referred to my own blog about this problem, and tried the tips I’d written myself: Avoiding blog burn-out.

I tried more tricks:

Trim the blogs I subscribe to

Don’t blog as much

Don’t get on social networking so much

When on social networking, don’t spend as much time there

I exercised more. Made more art. Stepped outside. Read more. Socialized more.

Nothing helped. I was still burned out, and I couldn’t kick it.

And then, after a recent phone conversation with Elizabeth H. Cottrell of Heartspoken– to discuss my burn-out – it finally occurred to me (can you say, “Duh”?).

My life changed about a year and a half ago, and my energies were being funneled into new and challenging activities.

I started a new job in the summer of 2014. Learning a new job (with about an hour of training from the previous gal) took a toll. I love the job, but it can be exhausting.

I started going to a university class, fall 2014. It was only one class a semester, but it was a lot of work.

Then, the summer of 2015, I started tap dance lessons (yes, at 57 y.o.). Tap was always something I wanted to do, and now I’m doing it.

And this semester I’ll be taking two classes at Minot State University, so I’ll have even less time to social network and blog.IMG_1846

While Elizabeth did give me some great ideas for a new direction for my blog, I’ll tell you right now – I won’t be blogging as much. And I won’t be feeling guilty about it.

I have new priorities, so I took a look at blogging and realized it’s just not a huge priority now. While I will blog occasionally, I just won’t be popping up in your feed as much as I did before.

 

 

Photos by me from Lake Metigoshe, Summer, 2015.

26 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Personal Articles, Social Networking

21 Steps to Twitter Love, by J. J. Brown

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Elizabeth and JJ at Word Sharks Conference

From Karen…

Back in June, I met with long-time online friends in Newark, DE, for the first-ever Word Sharks Conference. In attendance – J.J. Brown, Elizabeth Cottrell, Pamela Wight, Jessica Pettengill Messinger, and Barbara Forte Abate.

Since then, we have stayed in touch sharing blogs we like, having book discussions, and sharing other resources and insights.

Out of one of those conversations came some fantastic insight into Twitter by J.J. Brown. She shared her philosophy and advice on how she uses Twitter. I thought it was so good, I called “dibs” on sharing it in a blog.

Welcome, J.J.!

* * *

Article by J. J. Brown

I love twitter because it is a free and open conversation that’s so fast-moving. Twitter is quite famous for NOT being a place to sell books or much of anything else. So, I don’t have advice about how to use twitter to sell books.

Being active on twitter is a wonderful way to meet writers and readers, and exchange thoughts on the writing process and story ideas, as well as inspiration. And once in a while I get a tweet asking to review a book of mine, or to be interviewed on a blog, or submit a post for a website, or a story to an anthology, which is fun.

I can’t count the many interesting people I’ve met and shared views with on twitter, and sometimes later in-person as friends (none of whom were creepy).

21 rules I apply loosely, depending on how much time I have are:

How to tweet:

  • Be interesting and super brief; don’t repeat identical tweets.
  • Talk about yourself and the books you’ve written, but not ALL of the time, just sometimes.
  • Post provocative things about writing, about your books, and the news – things people react to.
  • Share other writers, artists, and thinkers works, at a good ratio. Tweeting 5 of others’ things then 1 of yours works well.
  • Use a photo in your original tweet so more people will see it. This magnifies your reach because more people look at pictures than words, even on twitter.
  • Tweet quotes from famous authors or artists who inspire you, just to share the joy.
  • After you tweet something original or important, stay on a few minutes to respond to any replies.
  • Retweet things others post that you think need a broader audience because they’re great, funny, or important.
  • Say something insightful about any link you share on twitter, don’t just hit the Tweet button though it’s tempting.

How to interact:

  • When someone tweets your work or retweets you, thank them via direct message (which is private) or tweet (which is public).
  • When people react to you, tweet back like a conversation. It hurts to be ignored there like in any conversation.
  • Never argue on twitter. Yes, sometimes a person will be mean to you. Ignore them. Praise, or add a new thought, or brood away silently.
  • Use #amwriting (for insights, personal progress) #amreading (for reviews) and other hashtags to enter writer’s conversations, then respond when people join your thought stream.
  • Follow people who follow, retweet, or comment to you, IF you’re interested in their twitter feed.
  • Don’t follow people who offer to buy twitter followers or increase your reach. That is kind of spammy messy stuff I don’t get into at all.
  • Seduce people you’re most interested in on twitter, tastefully, by retweeting and commenting on their tweets.
  • Think of the new contacts as friends and connections, not followers or fans.

How not to drown in the twitter stream:

  • Don’t look at your live stream, it’s a jungle in a thunderstorm.
  • Make lists of groups like writers, editors, publishers, artists to organize your new friends.
  • Do look at your lists’ tweets, your favorite people’s tweets, and any hashtags trending on that day that stimulate you.
  • Keep an eye on the clock. I limit my twitter socializing to about 30 minutes on a free day, 10 minutes on a busy one.

I hope this is helpful. I started on twitter about three years ago, when I started publishing books. At first, I was baffled. Now I love it. But I keep it to short doses. And only log on when I’m in a pretty good mood.

***

JJ BROWNJennifer J. Brown, PhD, is an editor at EverydayHealth.com by day, and writer of books and short stories by night. She completed a PhD in genetics and worked as a research scientist for 20 years before turning to writing. In her fiction writing, she is obsessed with exploring death and the meaning of dreams. Published author of seven books as J.J. Brown, she was born in the Catskill Mountains of New York and lives in New York City.

Find out more about J.J. Brown’s book news at her author website.

Death and the Dream. Short storiesDeathandDreamCover

Vector A Modern Love Story. Novel9780983821137

The Doctor’s Dreams. Novella

Stream and Shale. Coloring bookStreamandShaleFrontCoverFinal

J.J.’s Facebook author page

Twitter 

 

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Filed under Blogging, Branding & Platform, Guest Writers & Bloggers, Social Networking

How to play well (and blog well) with others

DSC01656I’ve recently had a few lame come-ons in my email – “I’d love to provide content for your wonderful blog. I love your blog. Would you like to have interesting content for your blog?”

Read on and you will see why I am not impressed by this generic query.

I’ve also received a few emails from other writers, editors, and proofreaders – “How do I query another blogger to be a guest?” “How do I find guests for my blog?”

Previously, I posted these blogs as a series – My guest blog guidelines, Hosting a guest blogger, How to query another blogger, and Being a guest on another blog. Today, I’m posting them all together.

My guidelines

If you are interested in creating your own blog guidelines, click here to see my guidelines.

Hosting a guestKenton and boys

Hosting a guest blogger can be a rewarding experience. I learn, I find new friends, and I expand my reader base and exposure. Variety is the blogger’s spice of life. And it’s fun!

Guidelines – I explain these are not hard-n-fast rules, simply guidelines. I like to enable my guests to use their imagination, their own voice, and their sense of humor.

Reach out – I don’t wait around for people to invite themselves to guest blog. I go after people I find interesting. Reach out. Expand your horizons!

Background check – Before I invite someone to be a guest, I check out their blog, website, Twitter, Facebook… Do the same background check if a blogger approaches you. Is this someone you want on your blog?

Posting date clarity – In correspondence with a prospective blog guest, my deadline was vague. The guest blogger thought I wanted her article in February (because earlier I mentioned Valentine’s Day), and I was talking about November!

DSC01197Deadline – Give the guest a specific deadline. S.P.E.L.L. it out clearly. “I need your submission in my inbox on or before January 22.”

Wiggle room – I normally set deadlines at least a week before the scheduled day. Don’t rely on last minute submissions. What if you plan on posting a blog on Tuesday afternoon and you still don’t have it Tuesday morning?

Back-up plan – What if your guest doesn’t follow through? Have a couple of your own draft blog articles simmering on the back burner for these emergencies.

Guest bio – I like to provide a bio and links for my guest’s online pages. So, in addition to the article, I ask for a 1) bio 2) profile picture 3) URLs for their social networking.

Maintain control – Indicate (in your guidelines and in conversations) that if you feel their article is not appropriate for your blog you won’t publish it or you might require edits.

Read the submission – Be sure to read the submission as soon as you get it; don’t wait until posting day. Is it well written and free of typos? Do the links work? If you feel it needs to be edited, send it back to the writer or advise her that you will edit. Be clear about what you feel needs to be edited.

Just say no – I hate to do this, but I’ve had to say, “No, thank you.” If the guest has broken one of your critical guidelines, ask the guest to edit or tell them you feel it’s not appropriate for your blog.

Learn to say yes! – I have broken out of my blogging box on numerous occasions. A few times, I have read a submission and think, “Eh, not really my cup o tea.” But I sit on it, give it a half day or so, read it again, and consider it on its merits.

Blogging love – If I have a guest, I ask that they share the link on their blog and/or their Facebook, Twitter, Fan Page.

Think big picture – Nearly every time I’ve had a guest blogger, I see an increase in my comments, and I occasionally get a couple new subscribers.

DSC01384The query

Before the query – Say for instance you find a way-cool blog. You like a post or two and think, “I’d love to be a guest on this blog!” Before you query…

Guidelines? – If the blogger has guidelines, read them. Follow them.

Research – Read a bunch of the blogger’s posts, including posts made by guest bloggers. I suggest at least a dozen. What is that blogger’s focus? How are the posts presented? How are guests presented?

Where to send query – If the blogger wants you to send queries via an online contact form, use it. If the blogger wants you to send it to his email, use the email.

Form letters – Ick. Don’t do it. Most experienced bloggers can spot a form letter query from a mile away.

A blah query – “I’m a blogger, and I want to guest blog for you! I love your blog.” Blah and blech. Be sincere, not spammy.

A brilliant query – 1) Mentions a couple of the blogger’s posts and why you liked them. 2) Mentions one or two of the blogs in her blog roll. 3) Mentions the blogger’s book (if applicable). 4) Mentions what you’d like to blog about 5) Provides a brief preview.image (13)

Pace yourself – Don’t send out 50 queries on the same day – you might just get 50 “Yes, I’d like to have you on my blog” and then you’re scrambling to write 50 blogs at quantum-leap speed.

No, thank you – You send your query. You think it’s stellar! The blogger turns you down. It’s his blog, his decision. Remember, it might be timing. Make a note to query this blogger at a later date.

Temper, temper – If the blogger turns you down, don’t blast him on FB or Twitter. Send a basic thank you and let it go.

Resubmit – Try again in a few months. Consider subscribing to the target blog and leaving a comment on occasion.

Your guest post Kenton washing car

Your blog host accepts your blog idea and gives you a deadline. You are scheduled to be a guest on another blog. Fabulous! Don’t simply drive in, drop the article, and drive away.

Now the work begins. Make it shine!

Deadline – Your host tells you, “Please have your submission to me by January 15.” Make sure it’s in her inbox by that date. Better if you have it to her before the deadline.

Dress up – Don’t send a slopped-together article. Clean it from top to bottom. Wipe the glass. Scrub the tires.

Check the mirror – Proofread, edit for clarity, adhere to word count, include all the information your host asked for. In addition to the article, your host asks for your bio, a profile picture, and your URLs. Don’t make her come back and beg you for them. Submit these as attachments to the submission email.

The extras

BIO – Your host asks for a 50-word bio. Don’t send a two-page resume and expect her to edit.

PIC – A profile picture – Have one. Have a recognizable profile photo, not you amongst 37 cousins at your last family reunion.

URLs – I keep all my URLs in a list, so I don’t have to retype them every time.

Kenton and ShawnPost Day

Share and promote – Make a post on your own blog that directs subscribers to your host’s blog. Go to the host’s blog page and click all the buttons to share it, tweet it, Facebook it, etc.

Socialize – Visit the host’s blog over the next few days and look for comments. Respond to comments. Be nice. Don’t embarrass your host.

A dud – It your guest post is successful, great! If not, don’t go off pouting or FBing “Why isn’t anyone commenting on my guest post?!” You posted it to your blog, FB, Twitter, and so on. Let it sit for a day. Then consider posting it to your Facebook again.

Send a thank you – Even when I thought Laura’s 10th birthday party was a dud, my mom made me send a thank you note. It’s the right thing to do. Send a thank you to your host.

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Filed under Blogging, Guest Writers & Bloggers, Social Networking

What’s on my bookshelves?

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I’ve got books on languages – 29 to be exact. I counted them. I excel at Sign Language, but the rest – meh, just notes. Swahili, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Chinese, French, Lithuanian, German, Russian, Latin, Thai, Czech, Welsh…

I’ve got classics – a couple of them first editions I think. I’ve got McCullough, Zane Grey (for 50 cents on an island in Maine), Pasternak’s Zhivago, Flaubert, Maugham, Steinbeck.

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I’ve got writing books – oh boy, do I have writing books. How to write the breakout novel, how to write poetry, how to write horror, how to write memoir, how to write any dang genre…

I’ve got the limericks book from Aunt Agnes. I can’t print any of that here – too raunchy! But, holy catfish, did she and I have fun with that book.

I’ve got states and countries and flags. I’ve collected travel books from a lot of the states and from several countries.

I’ve got Japanese character writing and Japanese art.

IMG_0555I’ve got art books. How to create watercolor, how to sketch figures, how to do mixed media, how to do oils and acrylics and pastels.

I’ve got a Stephen King collection along with a lot of other horror.

I’ve got women’s lit, war stories, fantasy, sci-fi, sword and sorcery, memoir, historical…

I’ve got signed copies of books from Shawn MacKenzie, Barbara Forte Abate, Kathryn Magendie, Gil Effron, and a few others. My treasures!

I’ve got several copies of The Bible. And a book about The Bible.

I’ve got style guides, dictionaries, thesauri, and multi-language, picture dictionaries.

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I’ve got loads of books about Wales, Welsh coal mining, mining in Pennsylvania, the Welsh in Pennsylvania (it’s where mom was born), Welsh dictionaries, Welsh recipes, Welsh hymnals, about Welsh surnames, life in Wales, Wales, more Wales, and more Wales.

What’s on your bookshelf? What books do you look for at flea markets and yard sales?

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Filed under Blogging, Personal Articles, Social Networking

A Legendary North Dakota Conference Experience

fargo

 A Legendary North Dakota Conference Experience

I have attended numerous national conferences, and not one of them compared to the intimate (and awesome!) North Dakota Bloggers & Writers Conference I recently attended in Fargo, ND. Not only did I connect with writers from North Dakota, Minnesota, and Canada, but I experienced Fargo for the first time.

Before the conference kick off, my BFF and I visited The Rourke Art Museum.

Wine cellar at the Hotel Donaldson

Wine cellar at the Hotel Donaldson

Sunday Evening Walk About

Attendees gathered Sunday evening at the Radisson and paraded over to the Hotel Donaldson for a tour of a couple of their unique artist-inspired rooms, the wine cellar, and their distinctive work-out room. That was followed by hors d’ouveres at the Donaldson’s HODO Restaurant. Other stops in downtown included Unglued Craft Market, olive oils and balsamics at Pinch and Pour, and brews at Wurst Bier Hall.

Pinch and Pour

Pinch and Pour

Conference Day 

Monday’s conference started with a scrumptious breakfast of fresh fruit, bagels and pastries, coffee, tea, and juices.

Morning Presentations 

Rachel Hutton – Editor, Minnesota Monthly

Freelance Writers Panel

Freelance Writers Panel

Freelance Writers Panel with Jessie Veeder Scofield, Jennifer Dewey Rohrich, and Amity Moore

Moderator, Beth Schatz Kaylor, blogger at Rhubard and Venison

More Yummies

Lunch was presented with panache…pasta salad, seasoned potatoes, zucchini and squash with peppers and onions, and roast au jus.

Kim Jondahl, North Dakota State Historical Soceity

Kim Jondahl, North Dakota State Historical Soceity

Afternoon Presentations

Kim Schmidt – North Dakota Tourism

Kim Jondahl – North Dakota State Historical Society

Nicole Moen – Fargo-Moorhead Convention & Visitors Bureau

Roundtables

Afternoon roundtables included Writing Blogs That People Love with Jessie Veeder Scofield, Visit with the Editor with Rachel Hutton, Photography Inspired with Jennifer Dewey Rohrich, and Writing Tips and Tricks with Amity Moore.

Kim Schmidt (center) at the Hotel Donaldson tour

Kim Schmidt (center) at the Hotel Donaldson tour

Final Presentation

Passion with a Purpose – Tony, Sarah, and Gio Nasello of Sarello’s Restaurant and Wine Lounge in Moorhead, MN, and of Home with the Lost Italian.

Breaking Up

We broke up. I didn’t want to leave. I felt like I had new friends all over the state!

Display of the reconstruction at the Hotel Donaldson

Display of the reconstruction at the Hotel Donaldson

Other Bloggers

Here are the resulting blog posts about the conference. And many of these blogs have incredible North Dakota photos.

Allison “A. J.” Bauers of The Covert Extravert with A Guide for First-Time Conference Attendees

Sarah and Tony Nasello of Home with the Lost Italian, Staking Our Claim as North Dakotans

Roxane Beauclair Salonen, thePeace Garden Writer, Secret Spaces

Jessie Veeder Scofield of Meanwhile, back at the ranch with A North Dakota Story

Devin Berglund writes The ND Writing & Blogging Workshop, Through My Eyes

Jenny Dewey Rohrich, The Prairie Californian, with Refreshing My Passion for North Dakota

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Filed under Blogging, Social Networking, Special Events

Will you be remembered after the writers’ conference?

fargoI am attending a writer/blogger conference in Fargo, North Dakota, this month.

I looked back on my writers’ conference tips, written last year. I also wrote about “branding” back in 2013 – you can see that link here.

For this conference, I thought…

How do I want to present myself? (The Word Shark, editor extraordinaire)

How do I want to dress? (professionally, in colors to match my website and blog)

What do I need to have? (biz cards, a name tag, give-away pens)

People are going to remember me because

I dressed like a professional editor – sensible shoes, a blazer, neat hairdo, spare make-up. And everything about me is going to scream, “Shark!”

Personalize

I’m not going to use any entry-table name tag, no way. I made my own. You guessed it – it has a shark on it.

Hand outsDSC02485

I will have The Word Shark biz cards and give-a-way pens with a shark charm (people will take me home with them).

North Dakota bloggers on FB

I discovered and joined the FB group, North Dakota Bloggers. There has been some chit-chat about the conference, and I have connected with a handful of attendees as well as presenters.

Research the presenters

Before any conference, you get a who’s-presenting email. Do look up these people, connect with them on social networking, follow their blogs ahead of conference time.

Magazine articles

One of the presenters at this conference is the editor of a local, regional magazine. Will I have a couple of articles to hand her? You bet your dorsal fin!

DSC02496Engage

Don’t just show up at the conference – engage. Talk to people, ask questions about their projects, and participate in discussions. Exchange cards so you can send a follow up email, “Nice to meet and you at the conference…”

When all the conference-goers go home

They will pick up my shark pen and say, “Hey, maybe I do need an editor.”

 

Conference ready!

Got the shark name tag

Got shark-pen give-away swag

Got a flashy shark shirt for downtown Fargo walk-about

Got a quiet shark tee and blazer for the conference crowd

Got the biz cards, ready to hand out

It’s all conference I’m about!

 

How do you prepare for a writers’ conference?

What’s your favorite thing about attending a writers’ conference?

 

Cool shark-charm pens custom made by The English Rose.

 

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Filed under Blogging, Branding & Platform, Social Networking