Tag Archives: Blogging

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.)

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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.

A Poem and a Blogging Prompt

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A Poem and a Blogging Prompt

I recently wrote this poem as an exercise for a book I’m reading and working through, poemcrazy by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge. The assignment was to think of a time when an irreversible change took place in your life. I chose to list them:

 

Life shifters

New friendrandom-art-supplies
Car purchase
Graduation
Job loss
Job change
Marriage
Birth
Move
Debt repaid
Resignation
Illness
Death

Here’s my challenge to you: Consider the events in your life that made you change your direction, or select one from the list above. Express your experience and thoughts in the medium of your choosing, whether poem or prose, photography, drawing, painting, zentangle, music, or whatever. Post it on your blog, and add your link in the comments below.

ALCGC2017: February Check-in

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ALCGC2017: February Check-in

“The ARHtistic License Creative Goals Challenge for 2017” is quite a mouthful. I’ve created a shorthand nickname for it: ALCGC2017. Let’s use the Twitter hashtag #ALCGC2017 to tweet about our goals.

One month down. How are you doing on your creative goals?

I think I’m off to a good start. I’ve tweaked my intentions a little in January.

The biggest adjustment is musical practice time. On January 1 I discovered I didn’t want to give up my piano practice for a day to practice recorder instead. (And the teacher in me knows that practicing any instrument only twice a month is insufficient for any skill development.) So now the goal is to spend 30 minutes a day practicing either recorder or guitar, and then an hour on piano. I’ve been able to do that almost every day, except when I’ve been fatigued. I practice in the evenings Thursday through Monday. (Tuesday is my folk dance night, and Wednesday night is bible study.)

It’s been almost two and a half years since I’ve played recorder. First I played through Recorder Karate, which is the book I taught my fifth grade students from, and luckily I can still play all those songs. Then I started working through The Sweet Pipes Recorder Book, Book One. I’m up to Unit 6. My tone sounds like a fifth grader (sigh)But I know that with practice, I’ll improve.

I haven’t played guitar in at least three years, and I’m back to square one. My poor finger tips on my left hand are so sore; it still feels like the razor-sharp wires are slicing through them. But I know from being a beginning level guitar player for the last four decades that the more I practice, the sooner I’ll develop calluses, and the pain will stop. I’m practicing chord progressions from a guitar seminar I took eight years ago, and I’m working through Essential Elements for Guitar by Will Schmid and Bob Morris. I’m up to page 23.

I haven’t gone on an artist date yet, though I have several ideas. It’s just been too stinking cold. (50 degrees in the Arizona desert is bitter cold. Don’t judge me unless you’re used to it being 118 in the summer.) I’m hoping February will be warmer. For now I’m staying home, bundled in my blankie and sipping hot cocoa.

I wrote five poems in January, and sent three to one contest, and one to another. It doesn’t add up to a poem every other day, but I hope to do better in February.

2017-01-29-18-42-18

An in-progress page from my coloring journal.

My daughter Katie gave me a coloring journal for Christmas. I hope to fill it with poems written in calligraphy, and color all the beautiful designs. I’ve also started another art project which I’m hoping to unveil on ARHtistic License on February 14.

I’ve been fairly successful at starting my work sessions with a chapter of scripture and meditation. I think I only missed two days. I’m blessed by the time spent in the presence of my Lord. It fuels me for writing.

I’m finding it challenging to keep a month ahead on my blog working essentially only three days a week at it, but I really want to devote the other days to my other writing projects. My books are even more important to me than ARHtistic License. I made some modest progress on them; it would be nice to pronounce them done before the end of the year.

Taking a closer look at the old pieces in my file cabinet these past five Sundays, I realize much of my early shorter work is either dated, stupid, or just not what magazine markets are looking for anymore. Some of my old, unpublished books could be rewritten, but The Unicornologist and The God of Paradox are my priorities for this year. I’m going to keep searching, though–just one more drawer to go.

Last Saturday I attended a Christian writer’s mini-conference with guest speaker and author Allen Arnold. (Oh, I guess I could consider that an artist date!) He reminded us attendees that the Creator who calls us to write also invites us to create with Him; He desires an intimate relationship with us. As I review my notes, I feel inspired, invigorated, and recommitted to my writing. If you have a chance to go to a writer’s conference or retreat, whether a small local one or a major national one, take advantage of the opportunity to get a fresh perspective and do a little networking.

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Now it’s your turn. I’d love to know how all of you are doing so far in 2017, so I (and ARHtisticLicense readers) can encourage you. If you’re keeping accountable on your blog, paste a link into the comments below. Or if you don’t have a blog, just tell us your successes and your challenges this past month. ARHtistic License was created to help the creative community keep refining their skills. Check in on March 1, 2017 to share your progress during February.

For Bloggers: How to Post Every Day

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For Bloggers: How to Post Every Day

In 2016 I published at least one post on ARHtistic License every day.

I’m not bragging. I’m just saying it’s doable.

Is it necessary to post every day? No.

Then why do it?

  • Because I’d like to reward my loyal followers by giving them something new to see every time they show up.
  • Because meeting a daily deadline documents an established consistency.
  • Because posting everyday has made me a content-generating ninja.
  • Because I want my blog to stand out. (Most of the blogs I love and follow regularly—see “Blogs I recommend” in the right-hand sidebar—post new articles daily.)

Isn’t it time consuming? Yes, but you can learn to work efficiently.

blogging-15968_1280

Steps to daily posting:

  1. Determine the purpose of your blog. The innovators who invented the web log (blog is a contraction of those two words) in the early days of the internet conceived it as an online diary. However, bloggers soon realized that the medium has limitless potential. It can be used to transmit ideas, information, and opinions. It can also be used to sell stuff. In my case, I use ARHtistic License to connect with other creative people. Also, I’m hoping to establish a following of readers who enjoy my writing and might want to buy my future books.
  2. Kristin Gallant color-creative-ideas-design-illustration-brain-colorful-7c6fc3d21551e01f7804e2e675f2a63e-h

    design by Kristin Gallant

    Choose a theme. What is an area that interests you, that you wouldn’t mind working on to achieve a degree of expertise? Although you can post about anything you want, even if it doesn’t apply to the theme, having a focus will help “brand” your blog, and can attract the readers you’re hoping to reach. ARHtistic License’s theme is the arts and the creative process.

  3. Create an editorial calendar. Here is the first secret to daily posting: not every post needs to be a major undertaking. A post can be 10 words—or 2000. 500 words is a good length—quickly readable, and long enough to achieve some depth. Occasionally a topic might call for 1000 words, but online attention spans are short, so don’t make long posts a habit. That said, how many major posts a week do you want to write? For ARHtistic License, it’s two. That keeps me challenged, but leaves me a little bit of time to work on my book projects.

On other days, I post a photograph I’ve taken, or a quote, or a meme, or a video. Many other bloggers are happy to share their work as a guest post if you give them proper credit and include a link back to their site (check with them to make sure). If you can’t reach the author, most bloggers appreciate links to their work being included in your related posts, or in round-up articles.

Here is the editorial calendar for ARHtistic License:
Sunday—Weekly feature: From the Creator’s Heart (a scripture quote); also, a snippet of my work in progress for Weekend Writing Warriors.
Monday—Weekly feature: Monday Morning Wisdom (a quote, usually relating to the arts or the creative process)
Tuesday—my first major article of the week
Wordless Wednesday—a photograph
Thursday—Video of the Week; also, a guest post
Friday—Weekly feature: In the Meme Time (it used to be one I found on social media; now, I usually make my own); Weekly feature: Creative Juice, a round-up of interesting articles about the arts and creativity I found online
Saturday—my second major article of the week.

You know those calendars businesses or charities give you? Devote one to your blog. (If you don’t have one, buy one, or google printable calendars and print one.) Use it to keep track of what you’ve already written and scheduled for your blog. It will help you quickly see what you still need, and help you plan your writing time wisely.

typing-on-computer-deathtostoc

  1. Work ahead. This is the second secret to successfully posting every day. It takes a lot of pressure off you if you don’t have to come up with something for the next day. I try to work a month ahead. For example, I started this article on December 28, 2016.

And those little quickie features, like photos and memes and quotes—I create those posts as soon as I come across them, and schedule them for a future date (you can do that on WordPress; I don’t know about the other platforms). I also save links to articles I read online that I like, and then I use those for guest posts and round-up articles.

I actually already have some posts scheduled for every month in 2017…

So, you see, using these strategies, you really can post on your blog every day without losing your sanity.

What do you think? How often do you currently post? Are you satisfied with that frequency, or do you want to ramp it up a little? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

How to Ramp Up Your Creativity and Your Blogging Power by Participating in Challenges

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How to Ramp Up Your Creativity and Your Blogging Power by Participating in Challenges

If you are a writer, a blogger, or an artist, an invitation to take part in a challenge can spur you to greater inspiration and output.  Challenges motivate you to try new forms of artistic expression or to set more ambitious goals.

On social media, writers and artists reach out from around the world to connect with like-minded creatives and issue challenges.

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If you’ve been meaning to blog more regularly, challenges can help you do that.

Some challenges come with an expectation that all joiners will commit to the entire run of the challenge. Others allow you to drop in and participate whenever you want. Rules vary. Some are very specific; others allow great latitude.

Why to participate in challenges:

  1. To try something new you’ve been meaning to do, but haven’t yet. Stop procrastinating. Move out of your comfort zone. Grow—as a writer, as an artist, as a person.
  2. To teach yourself discipline by committing to perform at a certain level for a specific (or indefinite) length of time.
  3. To become aware of the work of other creatives. Once you enter a challenge, you’ll probably be curious to find out how others are interpreting a prompt or responding to the challenge. Seeing other ideas will stretch your imagination in new ways. Usually you can follow a tag on social media to find other entries. Sometimes you’ll make connections with people whose work you admire. They can be sources of inspiration and support, as well as quality entertainment and education.
  4. To drive new traffic to your blog. See #3. Other participants may want to check out your challenge entries, and if they like what they see, they may become regular followers of your work.

In the year and a half that I’ve been writing ARHtistic License, I’ve taken part in the following challenges:

Photography ChallengesFun Foto

  • Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge Cee is a professional photographer and instructor who maintains a dynamite blog and issues multiple challenges. Fun Foto has a weekly theme.
  • Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge This is for those pictures that defy categorization. You felt compelled to click the shutter, but it’s not a landscape, not a portrait, not a flower, not really a still life, it’s just… weird.
  • Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge For anything connected with transportation: vehicles, roads, signs, etc.
  • Cee’s Flower of the Day Every day, Cee posts a flower of the day. If you create a blog post featuring a photograph you’ve taken of a flower, share a link in the comment section of Cee’s latest Flower of the Day post.
  • Tuesdays of Texture Exploring those visuals that make you want to touch.
  • A Photo a Week Challenge Nancy Merrill is the photographer behind this challenge. New theme every Thursday.
  • 52 Weeks Photo Challenge New theme every Monday. Scroll until you find the current post.
  • Wordless Wednesday For this informal challenge, post a photograph on any social media using the hashtag #WordlessWednesday. Theoretically, no words are necessary to explain your photo.
  • Daily Post Photo Challenge New theme every Friday.
  • Color Your World Jennifer Nicole Wells’ color challenge.

Writing Challenges

NaNoWriMo

  • My 500 Words The first challenge I ever took. This challenge changed my life by proving to me that I am a writer. Thank you, Jeff Goins.
  • NaNoWriMo Write a 50,000 word first draft of a novel in November along with hundreds of thousands of other writers.
  • Weekend Writing Warriors We all want feedback on our work. Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors post 8-10 sentences of a work-in-progress. Participants also read and comment on each other’s snippets.
  • Share Your World Another of Cee’s challenges. Every week she asks several questions that you can answer, if you choose to.
  • OctPoWriMo October is Poetry Writing Month. The goal is to write a poem a day for 31 days. I managed to write three poems last October, but I will try again this year.
  • A to Z Challenge To participate in this challenge, you post daily in April (most Sundays excluded) featuring something that starts with the letter of the day.
  • Holidailies Post daily during the month of December.
  • Daily Post Challenge A new prompt every day.
  • And, this year I’m also participating in the Writing Cooperative’s 52-Week Writing Challenge to write one “thing” a week (which feels like cheating for me, since I post new content every day on ARHtistic License).

Art ChallengesICAD

  • Inktober An ink drawing every day in October. I managed three drawings last October. (Sigh.) I’ll try again this year.
  • Index-Card-a-Day Challenge Daily during June and July, do something creative on an index card.
  • World Watercolor Month Make a watercolor painting every day in July. I did mine on an index card to do double duty (see Index-Card-a-Day Challenge, above).
  • String Symphony Challenge A 2016 Zentangle challenge though a Facebook group, Zentangle All Around. This year there’s a new challenge, Taking It to the Next Level, and an art journaling study, and a Friday art journaling prompt. (I haven’t decided yet whether I will do any of these. I will probably “lurk” for a while.) You have to join the group first to be able to participate.

Do you have artistic goals that you want to accomplish this year? Then you may want to participate in the ARHtistic License Creative Goals Challenge.

al-goal-2017

How do I find out about challenges?

I find out about challenges mostly when the bloggers I follow participate in one. Many blog hosts offer easy ways for you to find blogs that share your interests. WordPress has a Reader feature. You can list tags you’re interested in, and any WordPress blog post that contains that tag will automatically show up in your Reader queue. Here are some of the tags I follow: art, creativity, faith, piano, memoir, quilting, writing. You get the idea. I also add tags for whichever challenges I’m participating in at the time. When I find a particular blog that I like, I subscribe to it. I might not read it every day, but I’ll either get a notification through email or see it when I scroll through my Reader. I think I’m following about 200 blogs at the present time…

Here are some other sources of challenges:

What about you? Do you participate in any challenges? Which ones? How did it work out for you? Did you learn something as a result of taking the challenge? Share in the comments below.

Better Blogging Roundup

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Better Blogging Roundup

Whether you’re new to blogging—or an old hand—or just thinking about writing a blog, here is some great input to help you do it better.

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34 Issues That Will Scare Readers Away From Your Author Website

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34 Issues That Will Scare Readers Away From Your Author Website

Thank you to good people at Web Design Relief for today’s guest post.

This article has been reprinted with the permission of Web Design Relief, a highly recommended author website design service. We understand writers and their marketing goals and seek to design websites specific to those needs. Visit our site today to learn more.

Posted on October 15, 2015 by 

scare readers

Would your author website pass the blink test? According to marketing specialists, you have about three seconds—the approximate amount of time before one blink—for visitors to judge your website and decide whether to stay or move on. If the answer is “no,” your potential audience will quickly leave and be off to the next site. So it’s vital that your website doesn’t have any issues that will frighten people away, such as unattractive, dated design elements; super-slow loading speed; or confusing navigation. And a homepage that greets visitors with a black background and flashing advertisements will have people clicking away from your site in seconds flat.

Don’t scare your potential readers away! Here are thirty-four issues to avoid on your author website:

  1. Your site has no clear purpose. Visitors must click through several pages and read too much text to figure it out.
  2. Users are forced to read something or watch something before they can move on.
  3. It’s unclear what you write, what your genre is, or what you’re promoting.
  4. Your site doesn’t have an author bio so that visitors can learn more about you.
  5. The design elements of the site don’t reflect you or your work: For example, your thriller’s cover is featured against a flowery backdrop with lots of hearts.
  6. You don’t allow visitors to buy your book on your site, and there’s no link to an external sales page.
  7. There’s no way to contact you—which means you have no way to harvest interested readers’ contact information.
  8. Readers can’t comment or interact with you and other visitors.
  9. There’s no current activity on your blog—all the entries are weeks (even months!) old.
  10. You’ve copied and pasted articles from other websites onto yours without permission.
  11. Your content is displayed in huge paragraph blocks. Remember: Using headlines, bullet points, and short paragraphs helps visitors to read through and take in your information.
  12. The website doesn’t have any social media buttons. See our article on How To Cross-Promote Your Author Website And Your Social Media Pages For Max Results.
  13. There’s nothing to engage the reader. No contest to enter or sample chapter to download. No sign-up for mailing lists. No way to follow you on social media or “like” your site.
  14. Your favorite song immediately starts playing—and your visitors immediately leave.
  15. You have no press kit or information for literary agents who may be checking out your site.
  16. The domain name doesn’t make sense. It’s the name of your first book (but not any of the others), or you’ve chosen some “writerly” name like WindWhisperer.com that has nothing to do with your work. (Learn more about choosing a professional domain name.)
  17. Your author photograph is unflattering, unprofessional, or cropped from an old (bad!) Halloween photo of you. (Check out how to create a flattering headshot.)
  18. You’ve made the wrong color choices…really wrong.
  19. Your site has been proofread by a friend, who needs new glasses—not by a professional.

Other design problems that will send visitors running:

  1. An all-black background with white text.
  2. Teeny, tiny text, unreadable fonts, or ALL CAPS! (See How to Choose the Right Font for Your Website.)
  3. Too many images and not enough text.
  4. Too much text and not enough images.
  5. Text is overloaded with keywords.
  6. The writing is unnatural; heavily SEO-driven.
  7. No links; broken links.
  8. Links that aren’t underlined or a different color, so they don’t stand out.
  9. Overly long links that are 10 to 20 words or more.
  10. Too many pages to navigate.
  11. Too many pop-up ads, animations, whistles, and beeps.
  12. Amateur, poorly done photographs and cartoonish images.
  13. Too many unnecessary design elements cluttering things up.
  14. The site isn’t mobile-device friendly.
  15. Readers are forced to install plugins.

Most of these mistakes may seem like no-brainers—things even brain-deficient zombies would know to watch out for. But the design issues that might scare visitors away from a website aren’t always so obvious to you, the website’s owner. So don’t be afraid to ask trusted friends or total strangers to give you some honest feedback about your site before it goes live. Your author website is a reflection of you and your work—make sure it passes the blink test!

At Web Design Relief, we design author websites with readers in mind—the people who will actually use them—and we know what converts visitors into fans. Contact us if you need a spook-tacular site to showcase you and your writing!

QUESTION: What design issue scares you the most in an author’s website?

What I’ve Learned about Blogging from a Year of ARHtistic License

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What I’ve Learned about Blogging from a Year of ARHtistic License

Celebrate with me–ARHtistic License launched one year ago today.

First (in case you missed any of these), I’d like to share the most popular ARHtistic License posts of the year, according to number of likes:

10. Poetic Collage

9. Wordless Wednesday: Bus Stop writing

8. Beautiful Writing

7. Distracted by the Flowers

6. Collision of Science and Art

5. Wordless Wednesday: Rock On

4. Writing 101 Days 3, 4, and 5

3. Hint of Spring

2. Writing 101 Days 1 and 2

  1. Pulsating Pink

Scrolling through my entire blog to see how many readers clicked the “like” button for each post (you’d think WordPress would have an easier process for that), I discovered some surprising trends. For example, only two of the top ten posts are articles. The rest are either poems or photographs (although I’m using this revelation to justify splurging on a new camera).

Featured Image -- 1165It’s discouraging to realize that the pieces I spend the most time researching and writing don’t garner as much appreciation as a few poems written in an afternoon or a photo snapped on a morning walk. Why couldn’t I get 20 likes for How to Hold a Writer’s Retreat or for Soliciting (and Offering) Feedback?

One of my goals for ARHtistic License is to be a forum for creative ideas. I want readers to be part of the dialog, adding their thoughts and experiences by commenting on each post. It hasn’t happened to the degree I anticipated. Does anyone have a suggestion for promoting more reader involvement?

I recently read a discouraging statistic: 40% of all new blogs are abandoned within the first four months. I get that. None of the posts I wrote during the first six months of ARHtistic License earned as many as ten “likes.” How did I keep going with so little affirmation? I have no idea.

I’m also surprised that one of my favorite features of ARHtistic License–the Video of the Week–is also the least popular. A YouTube aficionado, I’m eager to share the gems I find.

So, I’m going to challenge you to do something. Please scroll down the right side of the blog to where it says, “Are you looking for a particular TOPIC?” From the drop down menu that says, “Select Category,” choose “Video of the Week.” Then pick one of the videos to watch. Hit “older posts” if you need to. There are almost 50 to choose from. Tell me if whatever you watch isn’t absolutely delightful.

woman-865111_1280To entice you to partake, instead of just numbering the Video of the Week posts,  I am now also giving them a title, so that if you get the email notifications you’ll be tempted to click on the link. (You do know how to sign up for email notifications, right? If not, tell me in the comments below, and I’ll walk you through it.)

I’m also scheduling guest posts from my favorite bloggers on Thursdays, so you’ll have an additional reason to visit on video day.

Did you know that I post literally every day? Sundays I give you a passage of scripture, chosen especially for creative people. Mondays I post a quote having something to do with the arts or the creative process. Tuesdays and Saturdays I provide an article about something artistic. Wordless Wednesday posts are one or more photographs with little or no commentary. Fridays I put up a meme or a joke.

Thank you to all of you who stop by every day. I know who you are. (I have my ways of finding out.)typewriter

Finally, here’s what I’ve learned about blogging from my experience this year:

  • Lots of resources exist to help you improve your blog. My favorite is WordPress’ Blogging University (and although much of the information is WordPress-specific, you don’t have to use the WordPress platform to benefit from it). It offers free online classes on blogging, writing, photography, and poetry.
  • If you run out of ideas for posts, you can find hundreds of  writing prompts online or in books. I’ve used some from WordPress Daily Post,  Pinterest (search writing prompts), Writer’s Digest, and The Journal.
  • Take advantage of writing events and challenges. Wordless Wednesday is one–hundreds of bloggers post photographs without commentary mid-week. Cee’s Photography hosts lots of photography challenges in addition to the Share Your World challenge I often participate in. I find out about challenges from reading other people’s blogs, but you can also check out WordPress’ Event Page.
  • Join blogging communities on Facebook and Google+, like Blogging Boost or Writers, Authors, and Bloggers.
  • If you follow the four suggestions above, you can significantly increase your readership. How do I know this? Because eight of my top ten posts are responses to a Blogging University assignment, a Daily Post prompt, or a blogging challenge. When you take on one of those, you have the option of linking back to a group or a website. Other people who have taken the same prompt or challenge or class like to see what other bloggers have done with it, and they may visit your blog.
  • Turnaround is fair play. If you participate in a class, prompt, or challenge, then for every post you submit, read and like and/or comment on at least two other bloggers’ posts. Just as authors ought to read lots of books, bloggers should read lots of blogs. Honestly, there are so many blogs that are worth your time. I follow more than a hundred (although there are few that I read daily–I’ve listed those on my sidebar under Blogs I Recommend). If you find something good, acknowledge it. Grab yourself some blogging karma.blogging-15968_1280

One more favor. Do this as a birthday gift for ARHtistic License: consider following ARHtistic License on Facebook. I share many more articles, videos, and photographs there. And if you like artsy stuff, follow me on Pinterest, too.

6 Creative Ideas For Your “About Me” Page

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6 Creative Ideas For Your “About Me” Page

Thank you to good people at Web Design Relief for today’s guest post.

This article has been reprinted with the permission of Web Design Relief, a highly recommended author website design service. We understand writers and their marketing goals and seek to design websites specific to those needs. Visit our site today to learn more.

Posted on September 5, 2014 by  • 2 Comments

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6 Creative Ideas For Your “About Me” Page

It’s important to include the time-tested, standard author bio elements in the “About Me” page on your author website: professional headshot, education, career, and publication credits.

But you may want to offer your visitors a more intimate portrait than a basic professional bio offers. So what can you do to make your “About Me” page stand out in the crowd? (And trust us—writers on the Internet are a humungous crowd!)

6 Ways To Spruce Up Your “About Me” Page

Write a welcome letter (perhaps in your own handwriting!) Visitors click on your author website to learn a little more about you. Why not greet them with a personal touch?

Writing a letter to your fans is a great way to do just that. You can even scan your own handwriting into your computer and use it as a font. It doesn’t get more authentic than that!

Use candid photos. Instead of having a professional headshot, consider creating a slideshow of some candid photos. If the photos reflect on themes found in your writing, so much the better! For instance, if nature is a source of inspiration, you can include your Galapagos Island vacation photos. Is your adorable dog your writing sidekick? Feature Fido in a photo!

Incorporating informal photographs into your “About Me” page adds a personal touch and gives your visitors a glimpse into what you do in your free time. Say cheese!

Embellish your headshot as if it’s in a scrapbook. If a slideshow’s not in the cards, consider adding some creative flair to your headshot. Giving your author photo a scrapbook-style background will add a unique element to your author website while showing off your artistic side.

Here’s a great example of how a simple scrapbook layout can dress up your “About Me” headshot.

About Me

Interview or Q&A. Posting an interview with yourself is an interesting way to spice up your “About Me” page while offering a lot of information. Think of questions your visitors will want answers to:

When did you start writing?

What drove you to write?

Who are your inspirations?

Post a video. Want to give the illusion that you’re having a face-to-face chat with your visitors?  Post a short video introducing yourself and thanking visitors for coming to your page. Then tell them a little about you.

Use your video as an opportunity to guide them around your website. Is your latest novel available for purchase on your “Books” page? Let them know!

Keep in mind that some of your visitors may be lit agents or editors wanting to learn more about you. This is an excellent opportunity to show them you’re serious about marketing yourself and your writing.

Include a personal anecdote. Along with writing a letter to your visitors, you can also post some personal stories—perhaps a funny memory from your childhood that inspired you to write; a vacation that provided the perfect subject matter for your work; or a book you read that influenced the way you write. 

How A Unique “About Me” Page Can Enhance Your Author Website

By showing a little personality on your “About Me” author website page, you reveal another side of yourself to visitors and make yourself more “real” in their eyes. When it comes to checking out a new writer (or a favorite writer), it’s nice to get the facts…and even nicer to get something more.

Here are a few of our favorite “About Me” pages—incorporating videos, image slideshows, and other fun techniques—straight from Web Design Relief clients. [ARHtistic License’s note: click on the pages below to view on the actual websites.]

About Me
About Me
About Me

Photo by CollegeDegrees360

QUESTION: Which of these helpful tips do you find to be most useful on an author “About Me” page? Any other ideas?