Tag Archives: Blogging

10 Ways to Give Your Blog a Boost

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10 Ways to Give Your Blog a Boost

If you’ve been blogging awhile, you’ve probably had days when you feel like giving up. It takes too much time, your readership is growing too slowly, you’re not sure if your blog really stands out. You feel like your work doesn’t matter.

But you’re not a quitter, so you decide to stick it out a little longer and try a fresh approach.

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Check out the following suggestions for making your blog even better than it is now, with ideas from some of the best blogs on the web.

  1. Repost some of your best stuff on Medium. Are you aware of Medium? It’s a gigantic blogging community, free to use (although some portions of it are for paying member only). Here’s how to use Medium to boost your own blog. And here am I on Medium. Some people do all their blogging on Medium.
  2. Use keywords strategically. You might need to do a little keyword research.
  3. Research efficiently. Know where to look for facts and figures to authenticate your posts.
  4. Mix it up to keep your blog fresh.
  5. Devise a strategy that will generate topics for you. Here’s one way to do that.
  6. Write killer headlines. Use words that will catch readers’ attention.
  7. Solve the most common blogging problems. Fine tune your concept, write exceptional content, and increase your engagement.
  8. Streamline your productivity. Try batching your posts.
  9. Create special emails for your loyal readers. Many bloggers have newsletters, but don’t let yours be like your Great Aunt Tilly’s annual Christmas letter. Instead, send them something they’ll actually be eager to read.
  10. Share your content on many social media platforms. Here’s how one blogger gets extra mileage from her efforts.

10 Ways to Give Your Blog a BoostI’m assuming that if you’ve read this far, you’re a blogger. Did you find this article helpful? If so, please click the “like” button and share this post on your favorite social media. Do you have something to add? Please share in the comments below. Feel free to illustrate with a link to your blog.

Curating Content

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Curating Content

Have you ever read something on the web that was so fascinating and well-written that you thought I know people who would love to read this? All the time, right? People forward interesting articles and pictures and videos and memes all the time through emails, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

Bloggers use this concept when they publish “round-up” articles, made up of links to online articles having to do with a specific topic. I’ve done it; I also share articles I find interesting, inspiring, or creative in my weekly Creative Juice posts.

A few months ago I discovered Flipboard, where users can compile “magazines” consisting of linked articles dealing with their favorite subjects. When you sign up for Flipboard, you can indicate your areas of interest, and related links will appear in your feed. So you can be a contributor and/or a consumer of the best content available on the web. It’s also a good way to put your own articles out there for a wider audience.

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I currently have three magazines on Flipboard, on topics dear to my heart: Creativity IncubatorThe Craft of Writing, and Lifelong Learner. I invite you to check them out. If they appeal to you, please follow them. I add to them every few days.

I’m sure there are other platforms besides Flipboard on which to curate content. Have you been using one we need to be aware of? Enquiring minds want to know—please share in the comments below.

 

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Guest Post: Eight Tips For Sustainable Blogging

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Guest Post: Eight Tips For Sustainable Blogging

Many thanks to Andrea Badgely and the good folks at The Daily Post for these wonderful hints. I especially like #1.

The Daily Post

I’m going to take a wild guess and say that if you are reading this, you’re interested in blogging, not just today, but for the long haul. Maybe you’re thinking about starting a blog. Or maybe you already have one and are wondering, I started this site, now what? I’m pretty sure I can post this week, but what about next week, and the week after?

Alec Nevala-Lee publishes five hundred words per day, and has done so for more than five years. He shares his approach in this Discover interview with editor Cheri Lucas Rowlands.

We’ve got you covered. Here are eight ways long-term bloggers sustain their blogs not only through the first few weeks, but through the years.

1. Blog like nobody is watching.

Have you heard the expression “Dance like nobody’s watching”? It’s always been a favorite quote of mine, especially when I’m on a dance floor…

View original post 1,105 more words

17 Great Ideas for Your Next Project (Roundup)

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17 Great Ideas for Your Next Project (Roundup)

Need an idea for your next creative endeavor? Whether you’re a blogger, a writer, an artist, or a little bit of everything, here are some terrific suggestions:

  1. For blog posts.
  2. And some more ideas for blog posts.
  3. Even more ideas for blog posts.
  4. Write a guest post for another blog.
  5. Make a video podcast.
  6. Create your own YouTube channel for promotion.
  7. Writing exercises to generate ideas.
  8. Start a writing journal.
  9. Where fiction ideas come from.
  10. Tell a story through letters or diary entries.
  11. A YA romance.
  12. Try experimenting in a different medium.
  13. A visual representation of your dreams.
  14. I bet you’ll have to make one of these craft projects.
  15. Take on a photography project.
  16. 28 projects in 28 days.
  17. Slide show on making your project a reality.

Guest Post: HOW TO INCREASE YOUR PRODUCTIVITY BY BATCHING by Dani Fairhurst

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Guest Post: HOW TO INCREASE YOUR PRODUCTIVITY BY BATCHING by Dani Fairhurst

DaniA big thank you to Dani Fairhurst of Flourishing Freelancer for these proactive suggestions for productivity. The ideas work for blogging as well as other kinds of writing, a myriad of arts, and, really, any tasks at all.

I’m not even sure if “batching” is the technical term but whatever it’s called, it definitely increases productivity. I’m fairly confident I’ve read other blog posts that refer to batching as a thing so we’ll go with that word.

I am usually good when it comes to batching but things are pretty busy for me right now what with working full time, running two blogs and trying to train for a half marathon (I’m massively unfit right now so this actually a big challenge!). And so I’ve let myself slip into a habit of writing when I need to hit publish on a post. I always plan to be ahead on posts and social media but I’m just treading water right now, which I need to get sorted.

Anyway, one of my favourite ways to stay ahead of the game when I am actually getting stuff done is batching.

Batching

WHY DOES IT WORK?

The theory behind why batching can help your productivity is that your brain loves repetition. Repeating a task over and over again allows your brain to create neural pathways and, as a result, become more efficient. Well, that’s the theory anyway. Obviously, everyone works slightly differently so don’t panic if batching doesn’t work for you.

Batching helps with efficiency and productivity on a practical level too. If you’re sitting down to batch write blog posts or edit photos, you’ll have all the relevant software etc. open on your computer. I know that if I try to write a blog post and create the images and do my research all in one sitting, that I waste hours flicking between websites, tabs, programmes. It’s just not an efficient way of doing things. You’ll also probably find that you’ll work out the best order to do things in to complete a task quickly if you repeat it over and over again in one sitting. Bonus!

SO, HOW DO I BATCH?

Here’s how I set up an effective batching process that works for me and my blog:

1. CHOOSE WHAT YOU WANT TO BATCH

You can batch whatever you like! Sit down for a few minutes and write a list of tasks that you do regularly for your blog. Here’s a list of things that I like to batch to get you started:

  • Content planning
  • Researching new content/ideas
  • Blog writing
  • Taking or finding suitable stock photos
  • Editing photos
  • Scheduling social media updates
  • Reading and replying to emails
  • Looking for and applying for freelance work
  • Blog maintenance
  • Reading and replying to comments on my blog
  • Reading and leaving comments on other blogs
  • Stats and data analysis
  • Invoicing/income tracking

There are certain things that you can’t batch such as impromptu blog posts and Twitter chats. But if you start batching other tasks, you should find that you’ll have more time for those other things that can’t be batched.

2. DECIDE ON HOW OFTEN

How often you do a certain task will depend on the nature of the task. For example, I schedule social media posts once a week but only work on blog maintenance once a month. Here’s the same list from above with how often I do things:

  • Content planning – once a week
  • Researching new content/ideas – once a week (sometimes twice if I’m struggling)
  • Blog writing – 2-3 times a week
  • Taking or finding suitable stock photos – once a fortnight
  • Editing photos – once a fortnight
  • Scheduling social media updates – once a week
  • Reading and replying to emails – twice a day (am and pm)
  • Looking for and applying for freelance work – twice a week at the moment
  • Blog maintenance – once a month
  • Reading and replying to comments on my blog – once a day
  • Reading and leaving comments on other blogs – 3-4 times a week
  • Stats and data analysis – generally once a month unless I’m trying a new approach to something then I like to keep a closer eye on the impact it’s having
  • Invoicing/income tracking – once a month

Have a think about how often you want to do tasks and don’t be afraid to change it after a week or month of trying it if things aren’t working.

One of the best ways to decide on how long to set for a task is to time yourself. Do each task and time how long it takes you on average. Then set yourself realistic time limits based on that. Now, if you’ve read my post on being an organised blogger you’ll know that I don’t personally like to set time limits. So, how do I deal with this element of batching? I think about roughly how long tasks might take me and use that to decide which tasks to allocate to specific days. So if I know that the posts I’m going to batch draft are going to be time-consuming, I won’t schedule anything else for that day. But if I know that taking and editing photos won’t take long as I already have a lot of unused images, I’ll schedule something else in on the same evening.

This is just how I like to work – I don’t like having exact time constraints because I panic! Haha! Some of you might work better with time-specific deadlines so just do what works for you.

Another factor to consider when deciding how long to spend on each “batch” is how often you plan on doing it (see number 2). It might be that you want to several smaller batches throughout the week or just all in one go, once a week.

As with number 2, don’t be afraid to make a decision and then change your mind later if it’s not working well. It’s all about learning and progressing.

4. SCHEDULE AND STICK TO IT

Think carefully about when you’re going to batch, both in terms of time of day and in terms of order of the tasks. It’s all well and good scheduling “blog writing” for Monday morning but you won’t get very far if you’ve not scheduled “researching new post ideas” until Thursday afternoon. Unless of course, you’re writing up last week’s research. But you get my point. Make sure your tasks are scheduled out in a logical order.

Try working at different times of day too and see when you work best. For me, I write better in the morning and like to save things like photo editing for the evening when I’m watching TV.

5. KEEP YOUR FOCUS

When it’s time to schedule your social media posts, close down your emails and everything else that’s not related. Focus solely on the task that you’re batching for the whole allocated time slot. The only time I deviate from this rule, as you’ve seen, is when I’m editing photos when I’ll sometimes have the TV on in the background. Cropping 100 images to the right size is pretty boring if there’s nothing else going on!

I’ve mentioned it before, but now seems a good time to talk about the Pomodoro technique. This is a technique where you work for 25 minutes with no distractions at all and then take a 5-minute break. This is a really great way to stay focused on big tasks, such as batching posts if you’ve set aside a whole day.

Remember to keep your blogging goals in mind the whole time too!

So, that’s how I batch. If you’re looking to become more productive and blog more efficiently, I’d definitely recommend batching. Let me know how you get on in the comments below!

Blog Birthday: Two Years Old

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Blog Birthday: Two Years Old

Two years ago, I posted my first article on ARHtistic License. Yes, I am now entering Terrible Twos territory. No, no, no!

Last year I discovered that most of my popular articles were responses to photography challenges. This year all ten of my top ten posts were photo challenge submissions. (See below for some samples of my photographs. Click on the images for a slideshow of enlargements.)

Why? Why aren’t the articles I spent days researching and writing getting the attention my random photos get?

I’m especially proud of these articles:

Do I receive more feedback for my photo posts because photographers check out other photographers and are very generous with their encouragement? (Thank you, by the way.)

Or does my writing really suck?

Or is nobody interested in the arts and the creative process?

Or do readers not want to go to the trouble of signing up for a Gravatar account just to be able to click the “like” button? (Please reconsider. There are so many fabulous WordPress blogs and so many authors just dying to hear how they touched your heart. If you don’t tell them, they’ll go to their graves never knowing that their lives had meaning. Do you feel guilty yet?)

Anyway, I really want to know how to improve ARHtistic License, so that I can inspire a large community of creative readers.

This is where you come in. Please help by doing one or more things for me:

  1. pointing-finger-right-800pxIn the sidebar on this screen, scroll through the TOPIC menu and see if you can find an article you’re interested in.
  2. If you read something you like on ARHtistic License, please hit the like button.
  3. If you have something to add, write a comment. (Other readers also might be interested in your opinion.)
  4. If you know someone who might want to read an article, please share it through social media and/or email.
  5. Please take the ARHtistic License Second Birthday Survey and let me know exactly how I can improve my blog. The survey consists of four mandatory questions, which take maybe five minutes to answer, unless you’re very indecisive. Then there are five more optional questions which you can skip if you want.

Thank you. Writers work in a vacuum. We thrive on feedback. When we don’t get it, we have no idea if we’re on the right track or missing it altogether.

Meet and Greet

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Meet and Greet

Welcome! I’m borrowing this blog sharing idea, which I’ve seen on several different sites. I’m especially interested in seeing new blogs devoted to the arts and the creative process, but everyone is invited to participate.

Meet and Greet

Here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your blog or or to a post and tell a little about yourself in the comments section below
  2. Read a bunch of the links other participants shared. Comment on them, and share them.
  3. Share this post on social media.  Non-blogger friends will love you for posting Meet and Greet on Facebook and Twitter because they find new blogs to follow.
  4. Keep the love going. Reblog this post, edit it to suit you, and add tags.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #48

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #48

Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors share 8-10-sentence snippets from their works-in-progress on their blogs for others to read and comment on. Join the fun! Click on the link to see the full list.

The Unicornologist ~ High school freshman Hillary Noone, on a field trip to The Cloisters, receives a prophecy: she is destined to save the unicorn. Though she shrugs it off as being preposterous, soon life imitates art, and she finds herself in mortal danger.

Hillary’s been camping in the woods by herself, protecting the unicorn. Discouraged by the difficulty of her endeavor, she decides to go home for a day or two.

A deep rumble alerted her the weather was about to change. She shivered and hugged herself as the wind picked up and heavy drops of ice-cold rain pelted her. If that weren’t bad enough, within moments the rain turned to hail the size of walnuts. She ran for cover, finding it under a large tree.

The wind changed direction, and the hail changed to rain again, now coming down in sheets. Water penetrated the spaces between the leaves of the tree, making it as useless to Hillary as a torn umbrella. The roar of the rain sounded like Niagara Falls. Wherever she looked, water swirled angrily, gravity forcing the water to rush downhill.

She slogged forward against the tide, but the water got deeper and deeper until it passed her knees and its power threatened to knock her over. Defeated, she turned away from her homeward direction and allowed the flow to propel her back toward camp.

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 23? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.

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Good Sources for Free Images for Your Blog

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Good Sources for Free Images for Your Blog

The right illustrations can make your blog more attractive and inviting. Readers are more likely to stay awhile if they’re not faced with unbroken print.

If you have a digital camera or a smart phone, you can take your own pictures. You are your best source of free images, because (unless you’re taking a photograph of a person without their permission, or of something that discloses proprietary information) you aren’t infringing on someone else’s rights.

But sometimes you just can’t snap the picture you need. Maybe, for a particular post, you need a tropical scene, or an aerial view. Maybe you need snowy mountains, but you live in the desert. Lots of photo services will sell you what you need, but if, like me, you blog for love, not money, you need to keep your expenses low. (Like, $0.00.)

stack-of-pictures

Found on StockSnap.

Here are the best sources I’ve found for free images (totally free to use, no attribution necessary):

  • Unsplash. High-quality, high-resolution photographs. You can sign up to periodically receive pictures in your email. Unsplash also has a search feature.
  • Death to Stock. I subscribe to their free email service, and download all the freebies I think I may actually use. To have access to their entire library (1500+ and growing), you have to sign up for their premium plan, $180 per year.
  • StockSnap. If I’m looking for a particular subject, I often look through this searchable database first.
  • Pixabay. Sometimes you envision a tall, skinny picture to border a list. Pixabay has an orientation filter on their search engine that will select vertical shots for you, and leave out the horizontal ones (or vice versa).
  • Ivorymix. These are fashionable, stylized shots. You can sign up to get a free packet every month by email. I find their site difficult to search. Here’s their infomercial:
  • FancyCrave. I just discovered this site. I signed up to receive 14 free photos each week by email.

If you can’t find what you need among those sources, try these:

  • Wikipedia. Search for the subject you want a photo of, like Winston Churchill, unicorns, etc. Virtually all the photographs on Wikipedia are either in the public domain, or usable under a Creative Commons license. Click on the image you like, and click on the More details Scroll down, and you can read whether the picture is public domain, if you’re allowed to alter it in any way, or if you need to attribute the photographer or artist, and any other requirements.
  • Bing. When you hunt for images on Bing, I strongly recommend you click the Filter button, and under the License option, choose either Public domain or All Creative Commons. Even so, the picture might be still copyrighted, so only use it if you are sure you’re not infringing on someone’s possible rights.
Man holding camera DeathtoStock

From Death to Stock.

What do you do for illustrations for your blog? Do you like a source not listed here? Please share in the comments below.

Creative Juice #29

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Creative Juice #29

Fourteen articles, guaranteed to spark lots of creative ideas.