Tag Archives: Blogging

Happy Blog Birthday to Me

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Happy Blog Birthday to Me

ARHtistic License is three years old today!

In the past three years, I’ve published over 1,735 posts. ARHtistic License now has 465 subscribers.

But sometimes I wonder if all my work is worth it.

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I subscribe to a hundred blogs, and I check out at least twenty new-to-me blogs a week. Some of the blogs I see are fabulous—and I share their posts on social media and through Flipboard and Creative Juice.

But some of the blogs I see are, frankly, poorly written and unattractively designed—and yet have thousands of subscribers.

I must be doing something wrong.

Help me.

 

Two measures of a blog’s popularity are views and likes. Views are the traffic your blog gets; likes are the number of people who enjoyed your post enough to click the “like” button.

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Here are the top ten posts on ARHtistic License in the past year, based on views:

  1. Serb Fest (267 views)
  2. NaPoWriMo Day 21 (152)
  3. Diva Challenge #334 (100)
  4. #DC345: Christmas Star (97)
  5. #DC346: Phicops and Huggins (93)
  6. #DC350: Rimana Heartstring (74)
  7. #DC362: Somnee (71)
  8. Cozy (71)
  9. Inktober Day 24: A Composite (71)
  10. #DC360 Shattuck vs. Tripoli (69)

I think I know why the first one got a lot of views. My daughter sent a link to a Bosnian friend. I think Daria must have posted it online, where lots of her friends are among the Balkan community (thank you, Daria). I also posted it on the Phoenix International Folk Dancers’ Facebook page, which also generated some views.

The other nine posts were responses to challenges. The NaPoWriMo people featured one of my poems on their website. (Unfortunately, it was not one of my favorite poems. I like this one better if you’re interested.) The rest were zentangle challenges from I Am The Diva. Laura’s devoted fans support each other by checking out one another’s entries.

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Here are the top eleven posts on ARHtistic License for the past year, based on likes:

  1. NaPoWriMo Day 21 (20 likes)
  2. Strategy (20)
  3. Wordless Wednesday: My Neighbor’s Pomegranates (20)
  4. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day (19)
  5. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Tecoma Yellow Bells (18)
  6. My Favorite Photo of 2017 (18)
  7. Christmas Recipe Challenge (18)
  8. 12 Worst Blogging Mistakes (17)
  9. Beach House (17)
  10. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Hibiscus (16)
  11. Ahwatukee Festival of Lights (16)

Isn’t it interesting that there is almost no overlap between the two lists? Again, most of these articles are responses to blogging challenges, especially photo challenges (photographers are very supportive of each other—thank you, shutterbugs).

Two articles that didn’t make the top lists but which I feel are among my best work this year are I’d Rather Be Dancing: Phoenix Folk Dance Festival and Walk in the Art District. Both are photo essays which required many hours to shoot and edit

Isn’t it also interesting how low the number of likes is? The same NaPoWriMo article that had 152 views only had 20 likes. Does that mean that the other 132 people who read it disliked it?

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I know the “like” button is peculiar to the WordPress platform (which ARHtistic License utilizes) and fans and users of other platforms might not be tuned into it. Also, to click the WordPress “like” button, you must sign up for Gravatar, which requires a username and an email, and, optionally, your website. This gives you a little identifying avatar (of your own provision, or one will be generated for you) which also makes it possible for others to view the profile you submitted—and can help others find your blog. I know it involves time and some people are uncomfortable releasing their email addresses, but it’s a requirement for adding comments and interacting with the WordPress blogging community. Consider that you do your favorite bloggers a disservice when you don’t let them know how much you enjoy their work. Like me, they might feel as though they wouldn’t be missed if they quit.

My goal in starting my blog was to stimulate a dialogue among people I enjoy—intelligent, artistic, creative people. I haven’t succeeded. If someone leaves a thoughtful comment, I will reply, especially if a question is asked. But I get so few comments on most posts.

What am I doing wrong?

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Between now and my next blog birthday, I need to decide how to improve my blog so that it becomes what I want it to be—a place where creatives exchange ideas—or, decide if I want to scale it back or discontinue it altogether.

Here’s how you can help me:

  • If you’re not a subscriber to my blog, please sign up today! (See the third item on my sidebar.)
  • If you enjoy something I’ve posted, please click the “like” button (a great way to give feedback on any blog).
  • If you have something to add about a topic, please leave a comment.
  • If you’re on Facebook, follow the ARHtistic License page.
  • If you’re on Twitter, follow me.
  • If you’re on Instagram, follow me.
  • If you have any ideas about how I can improve ARHtistic License or attract my target audience, please tell me in the comments below.

Thank you. I think about my readers every day, and I’d love to get to know you better.

 

In the Meme Time: Expectations

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Newsletter expectations

12 Worst Blogging Mistakes

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12 Worst Blogging Mistakes

I read a lot of blogs. I follow nearly 300, and I check out new blogs all the time. If you follow me or you’ve left a comment on ARHtistic License or you’ve tweeted something that interested me, I’ve probably taken a look at your blog.

There are thousands of great blogs out there. And, sadly, there are thousands of terrible blogs out there.

How do you know if your blog is one of the bad ones? Here are some signs.

  1. Pop-ups. I hate it if I’ve just started reading a post on your blog and a pop-up blocks my view. If it asks me to sign up for your blog, I dismiss it. How do I know I want to sign up for your blog if I haven’t even read a post yet? Please have a sign-up option prominently (and permanently) located on your blog. If I can only sign up without reading your blog, I never will.Woman typing on laptop
  2. Old school look. Honestly, there’s no excuse for the 1990s-retro-look websites. So many platforms will allow you to set up a good-looking blog for free that there is no reason to keep a dorky-looking one. Start new.
  3. Tiny text, or text that doesn’t show up against the background. Some of us have old eyes. If I can’t read your blog, I won’t come back to it.
  4. Poor grammar and spelling. Please learn the basics. You can get a free version of Grammarly to help you.
  5. No illustrations. Beautify your blog and drum up the interest factor with pictures. There are lots of sources for free images you can use on your blog.
  6. Long, unbroken paragraphs. Nothing looks so formidable as a huge expanse of words. Throw in a little white space. Try to limit paragraphs to no more than five sentences.
  7. Posts that have no point. If you’re just writing your daily to-do list, you really don’t need to release it into the blogosphere. Write something an audience would love to read. Content is king.
  8. Your articles are sales pitches for your affiliates. I get it—blogging is time-consuming. It’s nice to earn some money at it. But if you’re not giving me meaningful content (see #7), I’m not going to read your blog.
  9. No sharing buttons. Sometimes I like an article so much I wish all my friends could read it. If I can’t just hit a button, but I actually have to open my social media and cut and paste a link, I’m way too lazy. You lose.Typing on laptop DeathtoStock
  10. No “like” buttons. I’d love to let you know I enjoyed your article, or at least show you I visited, but sometimes I’m too lazy to write a comment. I wish I could just click my approval.
  11. Your newsletter is a never-ending sales pitch. If I like your blog and sign up for your newsletter, I expect to see content like what you post on your blog, except better, more personal, and with incentives, like an occasional giveaway or contest. If issue after issue just urges me to buy your book or sign up for your online class, I will cancel my subscription.
  12. No way to contact you. If I love your blog, I might want to ask permission to use one of your pieces as a guest post or offer my help with something. If you don’t have a contact form or a blog email account, you might miss a chance to network. I’ll have to connect with a different blogger instead.

So, there you have it—my blogger pet peeves. If you recognize your blog above, it’s not too hard to improve it. Your readers will thank you—and you may attract some more!

Are there any other big blogging mistakes that I’ve missed? Share in the comments below.

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30 Ideas for Your Next Blog Post

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30 Ideas for Your Next Blog Post

Did you make a resolution to blog more frequently in 2018? Good for you! But if you are like me, sometimes you have no idea what to write about.

I get some of my best ideas when I’m away from my desk. If I don’t write them down, they fly away. I carry a little assignment pad in my purse so I can capture ideas on the go, and occasionally I’ll take a walk with my notebook and pen, because physically moving frees up my imagination.

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In the meantime, it’s always good to have a few ideas in the bank. So here are 30 ideas, results of a recent brainstorming session. If you like these, feel free to use them. You may want to bookmark this page for future reference.

  1. My earliest childhood memory.
  2. My first best friend.
  3. My favorite teacher in elementary school, high school, college.
  4. What I thought I’d grow up to be when I was a freshman in high school.
  5. What I did on September 11, 2001.
  6. What I believe about God.
  7. How I miss the mall (or the video store, or phone booths, or other cultural phenomena that were rendered obsolete by technology).
  8. My favorite recording artist when I was in high school.
  9. My favorite subjects in school.
  10. If I became president, the first thing I’d change.
  11. A photo essay of things that are my favorite color (examples: a blue car, a blue dress, a blue flower, etc.).
  12. A historical site near my home.
  13. My dream vacation.
  14. My bucket list.
  15. If I could have dinner with any famous person, living or dead, whom I would choose, and why.
  16. One thing I wish I could do over, and what I would do differently this time.
  17. The most meaningful gift I ever received.
  18. My ten most favorite books, songs, or movies.
  19. My greatest achievement.
  20. A promise someone made that I never expected him to keep—but he did.
  21. A promise I made that I didn’t keep—and why.
  22. My favorite museum.
  23. The most beautiful town/city I ever visited.
  24. The musical instrument I most wish I had learned to play.
  25. The physical attribute I wish I had (blue eyes, blond hair, a mustache, an extra pair of hands, etc.).
  26. The sport I most wish I had learned to play.
  27. Something I’m waiting until I’m older to do.
  28. Something I’m glad I never did.
  29. My biggest regret.
  30. My pet peeve.

Do you have some ideas to share? List them in a comment below.

Was this post helpful to you? Spread the love. Please click the “Like” button, and share on all your social media.

Let’s Help Each Other Build Writer or Artist Platforms

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Let’s Help Each Other Build Writer or Artist Platforms

On Thursday, I posted a guest article by literary agent Bob Hostetler. The first half of the article was about a 600-lb. woman whose doctor insisted she lose 30 pounds in a month before he would do weight-reduction surgery for her. The woman was frustrated by being forced to change her eating habits in advance; she thought she could begin her new regime after the surgery.

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Hostetler compared that woman’s mindset with those of the budding authors he meets at writer’s conferences, who:

vowed that, post-contract, they would market themselves and their books via social media, blogs, website, speaking engagements, podcasts, interviews, and more. But when a panel of agents and editors suggested that a healthy platform comprised of such things can—and, almost always, must—come pre-contract, they expressed chagrin.

That got me to thinking—we can help each other with platform building. All writers and artists should have a website or at least a blog, along with social media (in addition to your social media that you use for friends and family). Have you set yours up yet? That should be one of your top priorities for 2018.

I’m often offered free copies of books in exchange for a review, but I am reluctant to take those offers. I already have a couple hundred books at home that I’m dying to read, and I usually write a short (or long) review of everything I read, which I post on ARHtistic License, Amazon, and Goodreads. If you want to send me a book, that’s fine, but it may take years before I get around to reading it. (However, review requests from paying publications are most welcome and will be accommodated in a timely fashion. Money talks.)

But I do like to publish a guest article every Thursday. I usually contact the authors of articles I find on the web and ask if I may repost them. I would love to post your article on ARHtistic License, preferably something you’ve already written that you would like to get more exposure. It would be helpful to me if it were related to your art or your creative process.

Or, I could interview you.

Or, I could include your comments in a panel article about a topic in which you have some expertise.

Also, I regularly submit guest posts to A Writer’s Path, and I wouldn’t mind submitting to your website, if you think my focus on the arts and the creative process are compatible with the theme of your website.

What do you think? Do any of these ideas appeal to you? You can comment below, and/or contact me through the “Contact ARHtistic License” form (click the link at the top of the page).

 

#ALCGC2017 Final Check-In

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#ALCGC2017 Final Check-In

Happy New Year! Time to track our progress in the year past, and set our goals for the year to come.

I mentioned in my recent article about goal-setting that the smartest thing I did in 2017 was schedule all the tasks I wanted to do. Here is how it worked (changed slightly from what I thought on January 1 last year):

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  • Every morning at breakfast: read a chapter of the Bible and reflect on it in my Bible journal.
  • Sunday—rewrite and submit old pieces in my file cabinet.
  • Monday through Thursday—work on blog posts.
  • Friday and Saturday—work on The Unicornologist and The God of Paradox.
  • Odd numbered days—write a poem.
  • Even numbered days—make a small piece of art or work on a larger one.
  • Every evening that I’m home—practice piano for an hour and either recorder or guitar for an hour.
  • Tuesday nights and Wednesday mornings: folk dancing.
  • Once a week: go on an “artist date” to fill up on beauty and inspiration.typewriter

Here’s what worked and what didn’t:

  • I’m happy that reading a chapter of scripture has become an almost daily habit, one I want to continue the rest of my life.
  • I rewrote several old pieces from 20 years ago. I actually sold one. I sent a few picture book manuscripts out to agents; no nibbles, so I’m working on rewriting them again as flash fiction. I entered a couple of contests; no wins, but I did get one encouraging consideration for publication that ultimately didn’t happen.
  • Last Saturday I posted my year-end review for ARHtistic License. I would love to cut back working on the blog to only three days a week, but I can’t seem to manage it. I used to work on the blog for as many days as it took me to be scheduled four weeks out, but often that was five or six days a week, leaving very little time for other writing projects. Working four days a week, I’m only about two weeks ahead, which I’m just not okay with. I may need to cut back my daily expectations for my blog, but I don’t know how. (Suggestions welcome.) I also submitted some guest posts to A Writer’s Path to help new readers discover ARHtistic License.frustrated-writer-2
  • I’ve made progress on The Unicornologist, and even thought it was finished at one point, but my beta readers convinced me it’s not. I started entering it into Scrivener, and I used a template that K.M. Weiland devised, which is showing me where the manuscript has structural problems. I think I need to go on a writer’s retreat just so I can concentrate on that manuscript for a few days without interruptions.
  • I also thought I was pretty much finished with my Bible study guide, The God of Paradox. Just for fun, I asked my Bible study group if they’d like to give it a dry run, and they agreed. Boy, am I glad. Seeing my guide from the vantage point of a group leader is an education in itself. Writing Bible lessons and actually leading them are two totally experiences, and the flaws in my manuscript are revealing themselves. I’m making changes as we go along, but when we’re finished with the run-through, I think the study guide will need a pretty serious rewrite.
  • I wrote a lot of poems this year, though not one every other day as planned. However, I’ve written enough poems in the last two years to choose the 33 best ones and enter them in a chapbook contest.
  • I made a lot of little artworks this year, many of them Zentangles (though, again, not one every other day). The December ones were mostly Christmas themed. If you missed them, you can see them here.Mom's piano
  • During December I practiced lots of Christmas carols on piano—one of my favorite holiday traditions.
  • The fingertips on my left hand are now calloused from regular guitar practice, but they are still sore by the end of an hour. I am slowly improving.
  • While practicing the ensembles in the back of my recorder book, I became disheartened, because I had no one to play with. I can’t be the only person who longs to play with others but doesn’t have an outlet. I looked on YouTube to see if anyone had posted recordings of the duets so I could play along. I found one video where one person played one part one time through. It was something, but didn’t go far enough for my needs. So the idea of a special project was born: recording videos of me playing each part of the duets two times through, to give recorder students (and me) an opportunity to practice duets with a virtual partner. Someday I’ll describe my incredibly long learning process for making videos, but for now, I (somewhat sheepishly) present Episode 1 of Playing Recorder Duets with Mrs. Huelsenbeck:
  • I danced almost every Tuesday night and most Wednesday mornings through October, when I landed on my foot off-balance and injured it. A few weeks later I tried dancing again, and paid for it with a week of pain. A few weeks after that my foot felt better, so I danced again, but this time I aggravated a hip problem, and suffered for another two weeks. It’s clear I need to see an orthopedist, and I have an appointment for the end of February <sigh>.
  • I planned to go on an “artist date” every week, but I didn’t. It was more like once every three months. FAIL. For 2018, I’m going to pencil a specific location into my calendar every month, as close as possible to the first day of the month.Oil_painting_palette wikipedia

I’m pleased that I made progress on most of my goals, even if I didn’t finish one of my big projects or secure an agent. For 2018 I’m planning on continuing as I had been, with the tweaks I’ve mentioned.

For the last two years, I’ve offered a challenge for readers to post their creative goals, record their progress, and share in the comments. The response has been mostly silence. So, this year, although I personally will take the time to reflect on my goals and progress at regular intervals, I won’t burden you by posting monthly updates.

I wish you the best possible 2018, full of inspiration and completed creative endeavors. Happy New Year!

ARHtistic License: 2017 in Review

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ARHtistic License: 2017 in Review

When I set my goals for my blog for this year, I hoped I’d reach the 350-follower mark.

I’m thrilled to say I made it a few days ago. It’s silly to set a goal that’s completely out of my control (relying solely on you, dear readers, to actually click the follow button), but I am gratified nonetheless. Thank you, all of you, for your kindness to me. I will try to deserve your readership by writing more of the kind of stuff you like to read. (Your suggestions are welcome! Share in the comments.) My readership goal for 2018 is 600. You can help me make that goal by sharing (through Facebook, Twitter, Google +, email, etc.) any of my posts that you think might interest your friends. Thanks!

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My Top Ten Posts of 2017 (in terms of views). Have you seen all of these?

10. Phoenix Art Museum

9. #DC339: In the Holiday Spirit This post, as well and #6, #4, #3 and #2, are responses to a Zentangle challenge. I’ve written before about challenges being a good way to find new readers for your blog (as well as more blogs for you read!) The zentanglers have surpassed even the photographers in their support of ARHtistic License. (My photochallenge posts have always made the top ten before now.)

8. How to Practice the Piano: Doh! Donányi My thoughts on a particularly difficult piano exercise book.

7. Creative Juice 56

6. #DC344: Afterglow

5. The Magic of Landscape Architecture About the transformation of our yard.

4. Inktober Day 24: A Composite One drawing, entered in three different challenges.

3. Cozy

2. Diva Challenge #334

  1. Serb Fest I was not expecting that my photo essay about a local ethnic festival would be my #1 post written in 2017. I thought my dance friends would be interested in the beautiful costumes the Serbian dance groups wore, so I posted it on my folkdance group’s Facebook page. My daughter forwarded a link to her Bosnian friend, and I think somehow it circulated among the Serbian-American community.IMG_1257

My biggest surprise is that three of my blog posts from last year had as many views in 2017 as my top three above did. They are: Jan van Eyck’s The Crucifixion and the Last Judgment: Painted by a Committee, Ballet Feet, and Go Mobile.

One step I might take next year is to chose a new WordPress “theme” (it’s like a blog template). Even though last year I upgraded to a “premium” blogsite, I kept my free theme because I like it and I’m very comfortable with it. However, it doesn’t have the functionality of the premium themes. Switching up might also mean a huge learning curve for me. Any bloggers out there have a suggestion for me?

On New Year’s Day I’ll share my progress on my other writing, art, dance, and music goals, as well as sharing my creative goals for 2018. See you then!