Saturday, May 2, 2015

Writing Great Blog Posts

When Publishing A Fine Blog Post

What do I need to publish something great? First, define your idea of great. A blog post can be as long or as short as you need it to be, based on your audience.  It must capture what you need to say in a way that will eventually help another writer. Writing great blog posts isn't as easy is it may seem because there is always someone who might know more than you do. There is a challenge to be the best, but be humble about your writing and your blog.
The great blog post is as unique as you are. However, it's not about what you say or how you say it, but why you are saying it. If it's not about breaking news, you have the advantage to write the post, and walk away. You can come back to it and look it over.

It seems a lot of bloggers write and post a lot of blogs, but if they are like me, they do what I do, which is write it out, then save it and publish it later. There is a fine balance between writing and publishing a blog post right away.  

There are benefits to walking away and waiting for a while before it's posted.

If I wait, what other benefits will I get? 

A blog post is, by its nature, a self-published piece of writing, and it needs some attention, and you can't do this if you hit publish right away. The are many benefits of taking a while before posting something.

1) You will find mistakes.  You can fix them before someone else notices them.  It's not going to be prefect, but it will be closer.

2) You will have more time to learn about your writing style from a more neutral point of view. 

3) The respect of your peers. Another writer can tell if there is a mistake, especially one which is about editing, and you have an actual misspelling, and not a misused word (heard and herd)

4) You can create a routine that works best for you.  It's not about others, it's about you.

5) By scheduling a post, you create the idea that people will know you will publish each day, or twice a day and will come at this point.

6) Helps you develop your writing outside of a blog. When you know a post will be written, edited and published and you have little to worry about, you can focus on writing and publishing a book.

What is a great blog post?

1) It has something for more than a small network of people.

2) It can be a series, but it can also be standalone.

3) It is longer, and generally is more about the content than it is about 'news' posts.  I might not recall what Perez Hilton tells me in his blog post, but I can use information to help write a better post.

4) It's for the right people. Know whom you are writing for, then write it.

5) It's followed, and people have mentioned it on social media.

6) It is useful to more than a few people. It's not about just helping one person but more than one. What you write on a blog can help another blogger.  A great blog post does this, and it's full of points people can use either now or later.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Book Review: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Even with her new book out, Better Than Before, (and I plan to read and review it), I decided to read The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, first, to give me some sense of perspective.

In the last year I had a lot of things to be unhappy about.

My oldest son is lagging behind in school because of his ADHD, my daughter (the middle child) on a routine eye exam, I found out she was losing sight in one eye, my youngest son at 2 and a half, is still not using words to communicate, and to top all of this off, I was diagnosed with Cancer in May 2014.

But on the outside, to everyone else, I was a happy person.

Why? Because I lived in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. I had my own car, and between my husband and I, pulled in a very respectable family income.

If you read some reviews of this book, people were not just unkind, but downright mean. The reviewers felt she had no right to be unhappy because she lived in a nice apartment in New York, and she and her husband make “lots” of money.

I think that it’s been proven, time and time again, that money doesn't lead to happiness.

You only need to look so far, as every other celebrity has turned to drugs or alcohol to mask their pain.

How many people in high paying jobs have broken marriages and no relationship with their children?

Point of notice going forward. Money does not equal happiness.

The premise of the book is that Gretchen wanted to be happier in her life. But how would she do that?

After extensive research, there are pages and pages of “further reading” at the back of her book that supports this, she decided to take all she learned and break it down.

There was no way to be instantly happy.

She made a chart so she could measure if she was completing the tasks, and broke the tasks down so that they would be achievable.

The key to hitting any goal is to make the end goal realistic.

So in January of 2006 Gretchen set out to be happier.

Some of the tasks that she sets out for herself really hit home with me.

In January her goal was to boost her energy. To do this she broke the task of boosting her energy into measurable tasks (going to sleep earlier and toss, restore, organize to name a few).

The two above tasks were the ones that struck me first.

I sometimes stay up to midnight reading or working on my next day’s post. Why? Because I had a full time job, 3 kids and the recurring tasks that come from running a household.

Now that I am working for the blog at home. I can cross that 45+ hours a week outside of the home off, and start using my time more wisely.

I created a chart on when I was going to write blog posts, based on when the kids were in school, and when someone (either my mother, my husband or my mother or father in law) was going to be at my house watching my youngest.

Just the act of writing it all down and planning it out has made me less stressed about the need to stay up late.

Was it a daunting task?  No.  It took about 10 minutes to create a weekly template with the number of blog posts that I am responsible for accomplishing, and another 10 minutes to plan out the timing.

The other thing that struck with me is that clutter and mess make a person stressed.

Since being at work, and I worked through my Cancer treatment and was only off for the surgeries and treatment, and the fact that I had 3 small children at home, the upper floors of my house (the floors company doesn't see) were a mess.

I have wanted the time to just clean. Get rid of stuff that we don’t need or want and simplify our lives. I know that I am happier when everything is in its place and clean. You can ask anyone that worked for me in my former job. I crave clean and orderly.

When I go home, looking at all the unfolded clothes and the toys everywhere makes me truly unhappy. I know that chaos all too well as it comes with the parenting territory, but I feel that after reading this book, I have the ability to tackle it.

I found the book uplifting.

Gretchen’s husband is ill with Hepatitis C. Even though it’s not her herself that is ill, she knows what it feels like to feel helpless when I comes to health.

I now have started my own list of things for my happiness project. I liked how she took me on her journey to her happiness and just didn't spew all the facts that she had learned, at me.

I look forward to reading more from her new book to see how her life progressed since 2006.

Now to fold laundry! When I get home from Montreal that is.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Do's and Don't's of Self-Publishing

Self-publishing is a journey where you grow as a writer and as a person who has a business.

It's all about hard work, and all about building a reputation as a writer.  Self-publishing isn't the challenge it once was but it's not the time to chose it simply because it looks as if it's a good options.

Should you self-publish your book?

Here are a few of my personal do and don't.

Don't: Self-publish a first draft of a book, I know we all want to get published, but an unedited draft isn't the time to start a process of self-publishing.  People, especially writers, who are close to their work will not find the mistakes in their own draft right away.

For example: 'When it is a first draft, don't self-publish a books, I now we all want to get published, but an unedited draft isn't the to self-publish.'

Did you see the mistakes in the last sentence? It looks unprofessional and is the direct reason for a rejection by traditional publishers.  It's a shortened version of the paragraph before, and there are grammar and 'spelling' errors which a writer might not see, until after the publication.

 Do: When you have edited your book and made a target market plan and a business plan for your book.  It's time to start researching the many ways you can publish a book, from hardback to paperback and if you want to use Kindle or Kobo to expand your base.

Don't: When you've done a marketing plan and it looks as if, there is a market which is strong, and you can get your book traditionally published, assume that you should self-publish because you won't get a contract.  Do your research, there are a lot of books out there which aren't bestsellers, but over time, the author is recognized for their hard work.

Do: Be careful of what you pay for.  Marketing is not all about how much money you can spend on selling more of your book.  Marketing is about getting your name out, by using the power of social media and word of mouth. If you do self-publish and edit it well and work hard, there will be success.

Do: Consider self-publishing your book when it's a family history, or something that most traditional publishers will say no to.

Always have a plan, and be prepared to change it if it doesn't work out.  Self-publishing is about hard work and effort.

Don't: Get talked into a "package" that is too expensive for your budget.  If you have a budget of $500, then a $5000 package will not help you sell more self-published books. Doing a search on any of the search engines (Google, Yahoo, or Bing) will tell you what you can save by going to sites such as: CreateSpace, VistaPrint or even using a professional editor.

Getting a package deal is not in anyone's benefit but the company.  This is even more true when the company offers you only package choices, as the bigger the package the more money they make.

Do: This is where knowledge and research, know which companies sell the best average number of books. On average, most self-published authors sell forty-one books beyond family and friends.  It's not uncommon to have 'bestselling author' status for five minutes simply because fifteen family members bought a book in an hour. Buying a book will help, and one which is highly recommended is The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, Fifth Edition.  It talks many things which can be found online, but in greater detail.

The more you understand about what people are looking for the more likely you will know what works for your book, and how many books you can sell as a self-published author with the budget and network that you have.

It's not an easy road self-publishing, but it is a rewarding one.  If you do this for the right reasons you will always have success.

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