Tag Archives: blogging

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.

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Filed under Blogging, Personal Articles, Social Networking

Writing about writing blog tour

shark2 - CopyAs part of the Writing About Writing blog tour, I’d like to introduce Esther Miller and Deb Hockenberry.

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Esther Miller blogs about her travels around the country and about moments that have changed her life in some way. See her blog On The Road Again.

Esther has worked professionally in special education and mental health and has had a variety of volunteer jobs. Gardening, cooking, and ham radio are among her many interests. She married and raised her family in California, then lived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for nearly 14 years. She recently returned to California to be near family.

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Deb Hockenberry blogs about anything “kid.” Her blogs include personal experiences as a child wanting to write, book reviews of children’s books, and author interviews. See her website Kidztales here.

Deb has always wanted to write for children since she was a child herself. She loved making up and telling stories to her siblings and the neighborhood kids. She belongs to The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Deb has also taken two courses from The Institute of Children’s Literature and is taking an ongoing course in writing for children from The CBI Clubhouse. Each year, she looks forward to attending The Muse Online Writer’s Conference, or as she calls it, MuseCon.

Deb currently resides in the beautiful mountains of Central Pennsylvania. At any time of the year, these mountains are a sight to behold. In the autumn, the hillsides are dotted with red, gold, yellow, and orange. In her spare time, she enjoys knitting, crocheting, music, movies, and gardening.

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Filed under Blogging, Guest Writers & Bloggers

Writing about writing blog tour

shark2 - CopyThis post is part of a blog tour Elizabeth H. Cottrell invited me to participate in. Elizabeth’s blog tour invitation originated at Sor’a Garrett’s The Shine Connection blog.

You can see Elizabeth’s Writing About Writing blog at Heartspoken here.

This week, I’ll answer the blog tour questions. Next week, I’ll introduce you to two bloggers who will answer the same questions.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on learning a new, full-time job. I am also enrolled as a new student at Minot State University. Those two things have consumed me over the last few months.

In between the exhaustion of all that, I’m working on a non-fiction, Word Shark book as well as collections of poetry, historical fiction, and horror and experimental fiction. And, I blog.

How does your work differ from others in the same genre?

Every writer has an original voice. I just write in my voice and hope that it appeals to others. At times I try to write with humor, even with the horror. When blogging, I try to share my experience and my thoughts, some advice, what I’ve learned along the writing way.

Why do you write what you write?

I write poetry because I enjoy that muse. I write horror to kill my demons (and my ex-husbands) and because I love the genre, when done well. I write historical fiction because those stories should not be forgotten. Many of my historical short stories are based on genealogical research I’ve conducted on my family. And I write a blog because I enjoy that outlet – and to share my experiences and thoughts. On the blog, I occasionally share my poetry and short stories.

Describe your writing process.

I have no process. I write when I have the time and the energy. Lately, I don’t have much energy (new job!). I don’t have a schedule, nor do I try to force a writing schedule.

I write. I let it sit. I look at it again. I rewrite. I let it sit. I look at it again and rewrite. I let it sit (lots of sitting here!).

I have decided to insert a new aspect to my process – that of asking a handful of beta readers to read through my bigger projects before they are sent to my editor.

Speaking of editorsoriginal[1]

One of the most important steps I do take in my process is hiring a high-quality editor. I won’t publish without Shawn MacKenzie.

Stay tuned – next week I’ll introduce you to two blogger/writers who will answer the same questions.

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Filed under Blogging

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

Avoiding blog burn-out

burnEven if you love blogging, there will come a day when you are near burn-out. Or maybe you have already crashed and burned.

Try to notice the signs of an imminent burn out. Intervention time!

I see it in myself. I sometimes agonize over what to write for my next blog.

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Same ole, same ole

Are you blogging only about writing? Or editing? Or social networking woes?

Try something different!

Do a blog of inspirational quotes (make your own with
background and script at Quozio).A-poet-can-survive

Post inspirational artwork.

Take pictures and then post your photos.

Invite guest bloggers.

Tell a funny story about your childhood.

Genre rut

You write sci fi so you follow sci fi blogs exclusively. No, nada, niet!

Go look for poetry, women’s lit, romance, horror, or western blogs! Yes, western!

Try something different, pilgrim.john_wayne

SSDD

“Same shit, different day.”

Have you been following the same blogs for months and months?

A good way to find new blogs is to connect with other commenters on the great blogs you follow or via guest writers on these blogs.

Go outside writing

If you are following a poo-pile of writing blogs, go look for blogs that are non-writing.

Try art blogs or yoga blogs or hiking blogs.

How about photography or watercolor or pottery?

What about cooking or dance?

Or better yet, take a class in art, yoga, photography, cooking, or dance.

danceAsk a question

On your Facebook page, ask a question like, “What do you do when you have writer’s block?” or “What one thing must I remember for a book signing?” or “What do you do when you have no idea for your next blog?”

You will probably get enough comments to create your next blog post (save the FB comments!).

Fun, fun, fun

Stop worrying about your blog and go out and have some fun!

See Susannah Friis’s blog post about having Fun Fun Fun.

Take a vacationst thomas

I’m not talking to Maui or St. Thomas (though those would be nice).

I’m talking a vacation from blogging. Just decide to take a month off and then stick to it.

Have you ever experienced blog burn out? What do you do to avoid burn out or get over burn out?

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Filed under Blogging, Social Networking

TrustCloud: Harness Technology to Build a Reputation, by Elizabeth H. Cottrell

cloudsI am always on the lookout for ways to connect meaningfully with others, and the new online world makes that both easier and more challenging: 1) Easier because social media tools enable me to connect with hundreds of people in a fraction of the time it would take offline; 2) More challenging because it’s harder to know much about someone you haven’t met, especially when you want to know whether they can be trusted with your money or your reputation.

You’re undoubtedly familiar with the goal of having potential clients know, like, and trust you. As in offline communities, you build a solid reputation by being friendly, generous, helpful, and reliable. You consistently provide value, and you do what you say you’re going to do (when you say you’re going to do it).

You’ve established a track record with those clients or associates who have known you awhile, but is there a way to shorten that process?

I’ve just discovered a service trying to do just that: TrustCloud. It is relatively new, and I learned about it from Michael Martine, Remarkablogger.  Much like a FICO score for credit-worthiness or an eBay score for seller reliability, TrustCloud aims to create a similar score that carries substance and meaning in what the company calls the “Sharing Economy.”

What is the Sharing Economy?

“Sharing Economy” was derived from “Collaborative Consumption,” a concept coined by Rachel Botsman, writing in 2011 for Wired magazine. It consists of “an economic model based on sharing, swapping, bartering, trading or renting access to products as opposed to ownership.” Businesses based on this concept include apartment, car, and house-swapping operations and more.

Most online businesses require a similar kind of trust. When you buy a used book from one of Amazon’s resellers or a product from eBay, you rely on the seller’s reputation and track record for describing their products accurately and shipping in a timely manner.

What can TrustCloud do for you?

Whether you are an author promoting your books, an artist or craftsperson selling your work, or a consultant selling your services, you can benefit from giving potential customers a reliable measure of your past track record and what others have learned about you from their personal experience.

In its own words, “TrustCloud helps you leverage the good behavior you’ve earned in [the] Sharing Economy—and gauge the trustworthiness of others in your sharing community.” Instead of a potential client having to visit several social media platforms to put get a feeling for your trustworthiness, TrustCloud pulls the data from those platforms and, using a proprietary algorithm, creates a portable representation of all the data in the form of a TrustCard and score.

I was intrigued and decided to try it. You can see my TrustCard reflecting my TrustScore in the sidebar of my blogs at RiverwoodWriter.com and Heartspoken.com. On a scale of 1 to 1,000, my first score of 752 was considered “Good.” That’s better than Average but not yet Very Good or Excellent. I hope it will go up once TrustCloud has verified my mailing address.

Will TrustCloud become a meaningful measure of trustworthiness?

Two things will have a lot to do with the future influence of TrustCloud.

  1. One will be how effective it is in its ability to integrate more social networking platforms where activities are based on integrity and truthfulness. Right now, the main social media platforms are included, plus eBay, TripAdvisor, Klout, Xeeme, and StackOverflow. Others such as Quora, Ask.com, Yelp, and Yahoo Answers are “coming soon.”
  2. The second will be whether TrustCloud members use discretion when they endorse others. If it is used only to swap votes, it will dilute the significance.  TrustCloud is attempting to control this by limiting the points you get for endorsing others.

I recommend you take a look at TrustCloud even if you decide not to display the TrustCard. Besides being a feather in your cap, it will help you understand more about how an online reputation is made.

NOTE: In keeping with Karen’s “New Stuff” theme on her blog this week, you might find further inspiration for trying new things in my recent article published in our local paper Northern Virginia Daily  “Never be afraid to try something new.”

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Elizabeth CottrellElizabeth H. Cottrell, a.k.a. RiverwoodWriter, conceals her analytical side by artistically blogging at RiverwoodWriter.com for small business owners and solopreneurs. Turbo-charge your ability to connect, create, and communicate with prospects and clients. Elizabeth can craft your compelling content, help you get that book out of your head and published at last, or teach you how to use social media sensibly and effectively. Stop struggling and call to see if she can help!

Elizabeth also blogs about connecting with God, with self, with nature, and with others at Heartspoken.com. See what she’s up to on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

See her TrustScore on TrustCloud

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Filed under Social Networking