Blogger Bouquet #44

I’ve been visiting Elisa Ruland’s beautiful travel blog for a few years now, and I am always amazed by her breathtaking photography, her enjoyable narratives and her knowledge of historical destinations. Love her tagline too: “All you need is love…and travel.”

From Elisa’s About page:

I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend from Atlanta, Georgia, doing my best to live in the moment. A passionate Francophil, I love to travel, I adore the ocean and am weirdly fascinated by maps. I’ve been told many times that I walk too fast.”

I chose to highlight this recent post of hers because of the photos, the info, and because I just might visit there next year, if all goes well.

Day Trip to Canterbury

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Have an inspiring weekend, everyone!

Blogger Bouquet #43

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One of my favourite bloggers is George over at The Off Key of Life.

George’s About page is a delight in itself. Here’s just a snippet of it, which shares some of his Likes:

 “I love chocolate…I also enjoy desserts, especially anything with chocolate in it. I also love sitting on a beach, the state of Maine, (no, I don’t live there), practical jokes, people who have an unfiltered sense of humor, traveling, the innocence of children, the sound of laughter, anticipation, warm bread, and common sense (though that seems to be in steep decline these days).

It was a challenge to single out just one of George’s posts to share, but I finally settled on one that taught me something about a band I grew up listening to, thanks to my dad: the Beatles. I hadn’t known about all the firsts the band was known for within the music biz. Did you?

Meet the Beatles

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Have an inspiring weekend, everyone!

Invitation to Lewisporte

Along with another local author, I was invited to do a reading at the Memorial Public Library in Lewisporte Wednesday night. It was my first time in this Newfoundland community and I had hoped to take some scenery pics there, but the weather was dull, grey and snowy so I didn’t get the opportunity.

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Snow-covered road to Lewisporte after we left Gander
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Introduction before Reading

Introduction before Reading

Answering questions and sharing a laugh
Answering questions and sharing a laugh
YA Fantasy author Kate Sparkes
YA Fantasy author Kate Sparkes
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Buddy!

I have fellow WordPress blogger, Brenda, to thank for the invitation. Brenda lives in Lewisporte, and we connected a while back through her cat blog featuring Buddy. After she read Calmer Girls, she suggested the reading idea to her library, and voila!

I am so grateful for the many likeminded connections and new friends I’ve made through blogging and writing. Brenda also invited Paul and me to dinner and an overnight stay in her home. Aren’t people wonderful?

Something that struck me recently is how many wonderful women are behind the promotion of libraries, book clubs, and our community of writers and readers. Making connections with these women have enriched my life, which is another reason I’m glad I got involved in writing – and blogging too!

Does your local library host author events?
What does your community do to promote all things literary?

FYI:

  1. This is the last day to enter the Goodreads Giveaway of 5 signed paperbacks of Calmer Girls. Click here to enter.
  2. If you sign up to my email list before the February newsletter is issued, you will receive a 4-page sneak peek of the Calmer Girls sequel, Calmer Secrets, being released March 21. Add yourself here.

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Blogger Bouquet #42

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Jill Weatherholt started her blog as a way to share her “journey toward publication and to create a community for other new writers.” Her first book, SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE, will release in March 2017 and is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

From her About page:

My name is Jill Weatherholt and I’m a writer. I have a full time job, but at night and on the weekend, I pursue my passion, writing. I write modern stories about love, friendship and forgiveness.”

Besides the fact that Jill and I have writerly interests in common – we both started blogs to focus on our writing and to meet other writers, and we both have books coming out next month – Jill also blogged about the colour Yellow, as I did recently.

Her post reinforces the lesson taught to her by her mother: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” 

What’s Wrong With Yellow?

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Have an inspiring weekend, everyone!

Using Social Media To Boost Your Blog

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Social media is here to stay, and cannot be ignored as a way to network. By connecting you with millions of users around the world, it is the perfect marketing tool – although many of us are still working out how to get the most out of it.

For blogging, it is one of the best tools you can use to increase your readership. Share your blog posts on Facebook and Twitter and you’ll immediately notice the increase in visitors – but that’s only the first step to using social media to boost your blog. By using social media to its full potential, you can transform your small, seldom-visited site into a buzzing blog with an avid community of readers.

Which types of Social Media are best suited to you?

There are many social networks, to all of which you can sign up, although in most cases certain ones will be better suited to the theme of your blog – the ones where you should put the bulk of your focus.

No blog can do harm from having a Facebook and Twitter page. These are the biggest social networks, appealing to almost every audience. You can create a Facebook and a Twitter page separate from your personal pages – and invite all your friends and family to like and follow.

Other social networks may be better suited to specific kinds of blogs. If you own a cookery blog, Instagram could be a great way to share pictures of your foodie creations, although not so suitable if you own a business advice blog (for this kind of blog, a site like LinkedIn would be more appropriate for promotion).

Automate Content Sharing

Once you have social media pages, the best practice is to automate your blog posts so that as soon as you publish them, they automatically share on social media (easier than having to manually post them each time). There are many social media automation programs that can do this, although WordPress users can use its built-in automation tool.

Add Social Media Sharing Buttons

Next, you should add social media sharing buttons to your blog, so that people who stumble across your posts can become regular followers. You can get sharing buttons for Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. These require you to embed a code into your blog – there are sites that tell how to do this if you are unsure. Make sure that the share button is somewhere clear where readers can see it, such as the top of your blog’s homepage. 

Build up Likes and Follows

As already discussed, you should invite your friends and family to like and follow your social media pages. The more likes and follows you have, the more official your blog will appear. If you have a music blog that reviews bands, or a make-up blog that reviews cosmetics, contact the artists and brands that you positively review and get them to like and share. You can also join community groups and forums to gain followers.

On top of this, there is always the option of paying for likes and followers. I have never done this personally, but there are sites that will help you get automatic Instagram views, just as you can pay for LinkedIn endorsements.

Hashtags

Hashtags were made popular on Twitter, but have recently moved onto Facebook and Instagram. On Twitter and Instagram, you can use them to relate your posts to a theme so that others searching that theme will find your posts. It’s a great way of connecting to trends such as #catsofinstagram or #photooftheday or #music, although in each case your hashtag should relate to the post and not merely be annoying spam.

You can also use hashtags to create your own trending topics and to categorize posts. A music blog might create a #newmusicfriday hashtag to make people aware that it blogs about new music every Friday. If your blog covers multiple themes, you could separate each post with an easily identifiable label in the form of a hashtag, such as #travel or #tech. Note that tweets with hashtags ordinarily earn twice as many likes as those without, although more than two hashtags can have the opposite effect (lesson to self)!

Run Ads

You can run an ad on Facebook for your page or for an individual post. The promotional ad will appear on timelines around the world, alerting other Facebook accounts to your blog. Ads can also be run on other social media sites. You will often be asked about the demographic in which you wish to target your ad, so make sure that it is one that is likely to engage with the content of your blog.

Network with other Blog Owners

The best bloggers read other people’s blogs. Find a blog that you like and become a familiar reader by following their social media pages and regularly liking and sharing. You can also use social media to directly message other blog owners and offer the opportunity of cross-promotion. You could write guest blogs on one another’s blogs, share each other’s social media pages or endorse each other on LinkedIn. With many blog owners already doing it, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask.

Repost

Don’t just post new content – give new readers a chance to see your old content too, by reposting it on social media. You can use automation tools to do this or manually choose and repost yourself at your leisure. Sometimes an old post may link in with a current trend. For example, a political or social issue that you blogged about might suddenly link in with current news events, or a product you reviewed may have suddenly found mass attention somewhere. Seasonal posts related to Christmas, Valentine’s day or Halloween can be reposted year-in-year-out, as they will always be relevant. Obviously, the more content you have, the more you have to repost.

Bloggers: do you have any other tips and tricks for boosting your blog?

Blogger Bouquet #41

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Audrey Kalman is one of several experienced writers I follow here on WordPress.

From her About page:

I have been writing professionally for more than 35 years. I published newspaper and magazine articles in the days when such things still involved ink on paper, wrote a database how-to book when such things were popular, and now offer writing and editing services as a consultant.”

In the following post, Audrey shares her reasons for writing in a 12-point list, which she says are “perfect for matching up one with each month of the new year…whether you are a writer or not.”
I think I will refer to this list when I need extra motivation and inspiration to continue in the pursuit of “the solitary, frustrating, and often painful occupation of writing.”

My Top 12 For 2017

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Have a great weekend, everyone!

Five-Year Reflection

I received this notification today:
5 Year Anniversary Achievement
“Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com 5 years ago.
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.”
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 My blog turns five years old on New Year’s Eve. When I look back on that first post, Follow the Yellow Brick Road, I wonder: how on earth did I make it this far?
images-200x199Before I started blogging, I wondered what the point would be in it. I used to liken it to shouting into a void, and where was the fun in that? And at first, that’s exactly what it was. With only a handful of followers, getting a like or two – or, wow, is that a comment??? – was all the encouragement I needed to post another photo, or a poem, or a thought about something.
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Consistency is everything, as many of my blogger friends will tell you. Showing up and putting in the time and energy is what draws more followers, likes and comments. It is what brings the lovely reward of connection with other like-minded people, as well as with those who walk an entirely different path.
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 So much can happen in the span of five years. When I reflect on my life as shared through this blog, certain events stand out. I remember the highs – cherished moments with friends and loved ones (which strengthened those relationships), travel to new destinations near and far, and the fulfillment of two novels written; and the lows – first and foremost, the loss of my beloved mother to Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other sad good-byes, personal disappointments and health afflictions. For me, keeping a blog is also a form of testimonial to my ongoing gratitude, as a way to pay homage to the priceless gifts that life has granted me.
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 Today, I can’t picture my life without blogging. I know I’ve said this on earlier blog anniversaries, but it still holds true. When life gets hectic or throws me a curveball, I admit to moments that hint of burnout, but those times have thankfully been few.
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I hope Jennifer’s Journal lives on for a few years yet. Why? Because, as an introvert, I have been enriched and inspired by all the incredible people I’ve met here. You’ve added another meaningful dimension to my days, and I want to keep you around, in 2017 and beyond!

Bloggers:      
How long have you been blogging?
Have you found the connections you’ve made rewarding?

12 Dumb Tips New Writers Share

pexels-photo-640x426In this modern-day world of widespread social media and information overload, it seems everyone professes to be an expert on something. This, of course, includes the “rules” for writing novels and memoirs.

I have to make a confession. I’m sharing the following link from writer Anne R. Allen’s blog for my benefit as well as yours. Thankfully, I haven’t been taken in by most of the “stupid writing rules” listed, but I’ve also bookmarked it to refer to the many helpful links she shares throughout the post.

If you are a new or aspiring novelist, you would be wise to give it a read. Above all, make sure you get your writing advice from a reliable source.

Stupid Writing Rules: 12 Bad Writing Tips New Writers Give Each Other

Moving with change

To give us perspective. Of note, Karen’s words from the comment section: “I think when there is a shock, we need time to absorb the news and if we can spend sometime in nature … it does ground us and calm us.”
That often works for me when I need to let go of anxiety.

Healing Your Grief

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For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone.  The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes.  To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction. – Cynthia Ocelli

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Looking to Increase your Blog’s Audience? Some Dos and Don’ts

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Hello, fellow bloggers! This little post was written just for you.

I want my blog to reach as many people as possible, and I’m sure that you’re no different. Whether your blog is personal or lifestyle, an author website or a commercial site, once your blog audience increases significantly, you may find that many opportunities will open up.

This applies to noncommercial blogs too; you will meet more people, share ideas, and learn new things. You might even get companies approaching you about sponsorship.

So how exactly do you increase your blog’s audience? Well, it’s not just about the content of your blog posts (although, of course, that helps!). To give you a helping hand, here are my chief dos and don’ts for improving your blog’s audience.

Do: Improve The Design Of Your Blog

More and more web users are browsing sites on their smartphones and other mobile devices. That means your blog needs to be designed so it can be viewed on these smaller screens. If you aren’t sure how to do that, you can always enlist the help of a web design agency.

As well as being easily viewable on a mobile screen, the site also needs to be easy to navigate. If it isn’t, users might not find what they want and could move onto a different blog. Again, you can use a design firm to help you improve the navigation on your blog.

Do: Give Readers A Chance To Engage

There should be a number of ways that your readers can interact with you on your blog. For instance, leave a comments section underneath each article that you post, where your readers can leave their thoughts and opinions. You can use this feedback to tell which topics are the most popular.

You should also leave social media buttons on each article. Then readers can engage by sharing your content onto their social media profiles, which is a great way to reach more readers. Make sure your blog posts are fun and unique so that people will feel compelled to share them.

Don’t Spam Followers

You need to publish a lot of content to your blog, however, it is important that you don’t spam your readers and followers by posting too much. Otherwise, they may end up getting frustrated and could unfollow you. You need to get the balance right when it comes to posting.

Frequency depends on what type of blog you have and what your goals are. Try and aim to publish a new blog post every other day, or as I choose to do, about twice a week. That way, you’ll be giving your followers lots of fresh, new blog posts without overwhelming them.

Don’t Forget About Social Media

Social media is extremely important in the blogging world. It is crucial that you create social media accounts for your blog and share your updates on them, and be sure to use hashtags so more people will stumble across your updates.

One of your tweets or Facebook updates may go viral, and then you will be opening up your blog to thousands of people across the world! Try to follow as many bloggers who write about the same things you do. If they follow back, you’ll be able to create a network of bloggers where you can find support.

Hey, it seems to be working for me. 🙂

Are you actively trying to grow your blog’s audience?
Any tips you’d like to share?

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