Category Archives: Blogging

Creative Juice #315

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Creative Juice #315

Some pretty things, some scary things, some tips for fiction writers, and more.

Top 5 Blogging Tips

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Top 5 Blogging Tips

It’s been estimated that 80% of blogs fail. I got that wonky statistic from a website that helps people earn money from their blogs. I think they’re saying that 80% of professional bloggers are disappointed with their blogging income.

But many of us don’t even try to earn money by blogging. We’re more interested in sharing ideas. For us, failure is feeling like we’re not being heard. If no one is visiting or following our blogs, we wonder if we should even bother continuing. If you google what percentage of blogs are abandoned, the number is more like 95%.

So, how can we remain among the 5-20% of blogs that succeed? It’s about commitment and quality. How do we get there?

Choose a focus. Why are you blogging? Is blogging how you keep family and friends up to date on what’s happening in your world? Is your blog your forum for sharing your thoughts and opinions about deep topics? Do you have something to sell? Or do you have expertise in a certain field that you’re willing to share? My own reason for blogging is to build a fan base. I have several books in the works, and it would be nice if there were already people out there who like my writing by the time my books hit the bookstores.

If you want to write about a particular topic, make sure it’s something you foresee keeping your own interest for an extended period. I know I love the arts and the creative process, so that’s my focus. That’s not to say that everything I post has an arts tie-in, but most of my posts do.

Also, once you choose a focus, that doesn’t mean that you can’t pivot to a new one. But help your readers adjust during the transition. When they started following you, they did so with the expectation that your posts would center around a certain theme. Assure them it will still be worth their while to continue to visit you.

Come up with a posting schedule that you can maintain. You don’t have to post every day. I do, because I like to. And I’ve planned it so that most days my posts are quick and easy to come up with. Two days a week I post articles that take several (or many) hours to prepare. But I no longer have a fulltime job outside the home. You might not have the flexibility I do.

In my opinion, once a week is the minimum you should post. Less than that, and it won’t become routine for your followers to visit. You want your readers to look forward to next post, and know when to expect it.

That said, life happens. You may occasionally miss a day or more. If you can, write a short message to your readers. A post entitled “Taking a Break” and saying, “Can’t blog right now. Come back in a week or two. I’ll explain then,” will at least alert your readers that you haven’t forgotten them.

Do your best work. Think about what a reader might enjoy—step-by-step directions for a craft project, a review of the movie you saw last night, a different insight on an issue than what is currently being offered on talk shows—and strive to provide it in an interesting, informative, helpful, amusing, or imaginative way.

If you do your first drafts in Word, take advantage of the spelling and grammar check. Literate people cringe at mistake-ridden posts. They might even neglect sharing your post on their social media if there are too many mistakes.

And before you let your post go live, reread it again in preview format on your site. You may catch some errors that you missed earlier.

Engage with your followers. If someone comments on your post, reply to the comment. Some of my favorite bloggers do this: Gwen Lanning of Deep in the Heart of Textiles and Little Wild Streak; and Donna Kramer of My OBT are both wonderful at acknowledging responses. So is Cee Neuner of Cee’s Photo Challenges. If you enter one of her challenges, she will make every effort to visit your blog and comment on your post. All of these bloggers have thousands of followers, undoubtedly because they show their readers that they care.

I’m not so good about replying. I often can’t think of anything to say in response. Did you know I’m an introvert? I’d much rather write a blog post than call a friend. Yet, when someone comments, I can’t find words.

But I will go take a peek at your blog. I’ve discovered lots of good blogs that way, and if I like your blog, I might feature a post of yours in my Friday Creative Juice feature, or post a link to social media, or mention you in an article like this. WordPress requires that you have a Gravatar to leave a comment on a WordPress blog like mine. I can click on your Gravatar and find a link to your blog. (If your blog isn’t linked to your Gravatar, you should fix that.)

Try not to rant. Unless the focus of your blog is politics or hot button topics, avoid those subjects, please. One of my favorite bloggers (I won’t tell you who) is on the opposite end of the spectrum from me politically. She’s been lied to, and unfortunately, she believes and defends the lies and the liar. She recently made a comment on her blog that I just couldn’t let slide, and I gave the most innocuous reply I could think of, and she blasted me. I unfollowed her for two months. I like her blog too much to stay away forever, though, and I’m back reading it. But I scroll past the political stuff and just read the artistic content I like. Pretty much, if you can’t say something nice about somebody, maybe do what mama said and say nothing at all. Your readers will thank you for it (unless they follow you for that kind of controversy).

In conclusion, if you’re already doing these five things (identifying your focus, posting with consistency, providing quality content, engaging with your readers, and cultivating a positive tone), you’re already a successful blogger in my book. Keep up the good work!

Now it’s your turn. If you consider yourself a successful blogger, to what do you attribute that success? Or are there any other suggestions you can give that will give a blogger an advantage toward success? How do you gauge the success of a blog? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Video of the Week: Blogging Tips

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My Top 10 Favorite Blogs

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My Top 10 Favorite Blogs

What makes for a good blog?

The author’s voice, for one thing. If a post engages me, it’s often because I feel like I’m connecting with a friend, someone who shares my interests and is willing to discuss them with me. It also helps if he/she has a sense of humor and a mostly positive attitude.

The quality of the writing. I’m disappointed with sloppy spelling and grammar. I like to learn something new, so I’m always on the lookout for great content.

Consistency. Stuff happens, and it’s really hard to post something every day or even every week. But I love it when my favorite blogs come through as expected. When a blogger goes off the grid for months at a time, it’s like being ignored by a former BFF. Medical emergencies and family obligations are acceptable reasons to be inactive, but if intend to take a blogging vacation, please let your readers know (so I don’t worry about you or wonder if it’s something I said or did that made you ghost me).

That said, the following blogs meet or exceed my high standards. If you read my Friday Creative Juice posts, you’ve probably already seen some articles from most of these. And I’ve profiled several of these bloggers.

My Top 10 Favorite Blogs (in no particular order):

  • My OBT stands for My One Beautiful Thing, something Donna Kramer is determined to find anew every day. That doesn’t mean she can’t get a little snarky, like when oddities surface in her weekly Thursday Etsomnia™ post.
  • Life Lessons. Judy Dykstra Brown is an artist, photographer, and extraordinary poet. I think I discovered her when I began participating in photography and poetry challenges. When I interviewed her for ARHtistic License, she was so generous with her time and her stories that I had to split her profile into two sections, Part I and Part II.
  • Travel with me. I hardly get to travel, so I do it vicariously through this blog. Toonsarah is an excellent photographer.
  • A Farm Girl’s Life. Allison grew up on a farm. She loves animals and art and music. She is also a fantastic photographer, as you can see in this post featuring an ocean sunrise. She also just recently got married, so there are lots of romantic photographs from her wedding. Just browse. It’s a feast for your eyes.
  • Sketch Away. I love Suhita Shirodkar’s style of urban sketching.
  • Time for Tangling. Linda posts an incredible Zentangle tile several days a week and tells where she found her inspiration.
  • Cee’s Photo Challenges. Cee Neuner has almost 11,750 followers. It is not unusual for one of her posts to have over 100 likes. She’s an awesome photographer, and she’s generous with hints to make you a better photographer too. She runs four photo challenges, including the beloved Flower of the Day. Her blog is also a clearinghouse for other photo and writing challenges, so if you’re looking for inspiration, check her out.
  • A Writer’s Path. Ryan Lanz shares his writing expertise and also that of other writers. (I’m also a contributor.) Every writing topic imaginable gets covered from a variety of angles. Excellent writing blog. Followed by over 29,000 readers.
  • Folk Dance Musings. Andrew Carnie is very active in the Tucson area folk dance scene. His blog contains directions for hundreds, maybe thousands of dances from all over the world. He often knows who the original choreographer was and can give historic and stylistic background on the dances. The directions are often accompanied by videos. When I write an “I’d Rather Be Dancing” article, his blog is the first place I go for research. I also rely on his directions when I teach at Phoenix International Folk Dancers.
  • Your Classical is actually not a blog but a radio station website devoted to classical music. I signed up for their daily download feature, but it’s so much more. There are streaming playlists and stories and musical podcasts. If you like classical music, you’ve got to bookmark it. Have it playing in the background whenever you’re working on your novel or making art.

Now it’s your turn. In your opinion, what does it take for a blog to achieve excellence? What are some of your favorite blogs? If you’ve blogged about this topic, feel free to add a link in the comments below.

Creative Juice #302

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Creative Juice #302

Five of these articles are about quilts or quilting or photographing quilts. But there are also blogging tips, a summer reading list, and other interesting stuff.

7th Blog Birthday

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ARHtistic License turned seven years old yesterday. I can hardly believe that much time has passed. It still feels new to me in some ways. (And in other ways, it feels like forever!)

As of this writing, my follower base is 1334, up about 11% from this time last year. I know I shouldn’t care, but my blog’s growth has slowed, and that makes me sad.

Blogging is a crazy-making pursuit. It never fails to astonish me what draws people to my blog. For example, in the past week, a quote I posted for Memorial Day 2018 got over 300 views. Why? I can only guess that hundreds of people suddenly had the urge to Google “JFK quotes.” The year I first published it, it got 22 views. In 2020 it got 1. Crazy-making. And it’s earned a total of 5 likes.

More statistics from 2022 so far. . .

Most viewed ARHtistic License posts in 2022 so far (all of these were published in prior years):

  1. The previously mentioned Monday Morning Wisdom #156
  2. 10 Best Zentangle Sites on the Web
  3. Jan van Eyck’s The Crucifixion and The Last Judgment: Painted by a Committee (This is my most-viewed post of all time, with over 2600 views since it was first published in October 2016.)
  4. How to Practice the Piano: Doh! Dohnányi
  5. Hawaiian Quilting with Pat Gorelangton
  6. Video of the Week #247: Ben Pratt Sings River
  7. A guest post, 6 Creative Ways to Name Your Fictional Characters, by Andre Cruz
  8. Z is for Zentangle
  9. Hummingbird Habitat
  10. Video of the Week #310: Mariposa del aire by Federico Garcia Lorca, read by Andy Garcia

Most viewed ARHtistic License posts published in 2022 so far:

  1. My Daughter’s Wedding (Yeah, this is my favorite post of the year.)
  2. M is for Moldova: I’d Rather Be Dancing Moldovan Folk Dances
  3. NaPoWriMo Day 29
  4. I’d Rather Be Dancing Kurdish Folk Dances
  5. NaPoWriMo Day 11
  6. NaPoWriMo Day 10 (I gave this poem to my husband on his birthday.)
  7. Wordless Wednesday: Braggin’ On Our Orange Tree (Sigh. We don’t have nearly as many baby oranges for next season. That’s what I get for bragging.)
  8. NaPoWriMo Day 28
  9. Creative Juice #285
  10. Creative Juice #286

About once a month I post an “I’d Rather Be Dancing” article, featuring folk dance videos from different parts of the world. The “NaPoWriMo” posts are poems for National Poetry Writing Month (April), but my favorite offering didn’t make the top ten. “Creative Juice” is a weekly feature (every Friday) of 12 curated articles from all over the web that I just happen to find fascinating.

Most liked ARHtistic License posts published in 2022 so far:

  1. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Impatiens
  2. Flower of the Day: Bower Vine
  3. NaPoWriMo Day 29
  4. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Purple Velvet Morning Glories
  5. Wordless Wednesday: Braggin’ on Our Orange Tree
  6. NaPoWriMo Day 11
  7. Creative Juice #276
  8. Wordless Wednesday: Cactus Garden
  9. Wordless Wednesday: Avocet and Stilt
  10. Creative Juice #277

I’m really surprised that they isn’t more overlap; only two posts appear on both lists. “Wordless Wednesday” and “Flower of the Day” are two photography challenges that I like to participate in.

Now it’s your turn. Have you seen all these popular articles yet? Why not visit one or two, or all?

I’m still dreaming of 2000+ followers. If you’re not a follower of ARHtistic License yet, please sign up in the sidebar to your right, and you’ll get an email every time a new article is posted.

I hope that whenever you read something that resonates with you, on my blog or any other that gives you the option, please click the “like” button. And if you think someone else will like it, please share the link on social media. That would be a great blogiversary present to me.

If there is something related to the arts and the creative process that you would like to see on ARHtistic License, let me know in the comments below.

Creative Juice #291

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Creative Juice #291

Especially heavy on writing articles this week.

Creative Juice #289

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Creative Juice #289

If you like quilts, there are several links to some awesome ones this week.

Creative Juice #284

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Creative Juice #284

All sorts of creative things to look at.

Creative Juice #281

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Lots of quilts and writing tips. And a couple other things.