I was pleased this month to discover Milly Schmidt and her blog, The Cat’s Write.
A writer and a cat person – could I have picked a better blogger to follow?
From her About page:
“I’m a writer, blogger and crazy cat lady living in the New England, Australia. Some bloggers mistakenly think I’m from the New England in the US, but I really don’t mind, any way to bond is fine by me!
I’m currently working on my first crime novel, When She Goes, a psychological thriller set in rural NSW. When not writing or blogging, I work in the human resources sector and I have a Bachelor of Criminology from the University of New England. I am also a member of the New England Writers’ Centre and the Australian Crime Writers Association.”
I’m sharing a post where Milly tells about an exceptionally mean rejection letter she received for an article she submitted to one of her favourite online writing magazines. That same article that was criticized, 9 reasons why you should self-publish, went on to become one of the most popular she has ever written.
I’ve been a follower of Hands On Bowie for years, ever since I first laid eyes on its namesake, a beautiful British Shorthair cat who hails from Belgium.
Mr. Bowie the cat is sometimes photographed in colour and at other times in sumptuous black and white. Herman is the blogger and photographer.
From the About page:
“The basics you need to know: HoB is about Bowie, Mr. Bowie, (a British Shorthair, not David Robert Hayward-Jones) & me, the guy behind the guy behind the cat, a comeback electronic musician … I’m not a real photographer. I’ve got a beautiful model.”
I chose the following post to highlight because it shows off Mr. Bowie’s garden too.
Check out this sweet boy!
Hey everyone! I’ve just started a new post category on my blog. Friday Fiction will be a place to share short pieces of my writing in the form of short stories, flash fiction, poetry and vignettes. These posts may not occur every week but whenever the mood arises.
Here is a short story I wrote years ago for a writing course assignment.
A Job Worth Doing
The young man sighed with satisfaction as he wiped the sweat from his brow in the sleeve of his dusty green coveralls. His gaze swept up the gleaming corridor floor for a final check. Whistling softly, he bent to pick up the mop and the pail of grey water at his feet. At eight p.m., it was time to clear out and head home.
“Hey buddy, you missed a spot,” a voice boomed and echoed from the other end of the long hallway. The young janitor looked up quickly to see two tall executive types in expensive suits, smiling at him from an office doorway. One of them pointed at the floor in front of him. “Don’t forget – a job worth doing is worth doing well,” he quipped, nudging his colleague in the ribs. Chuckling, they strolled down the hall and out the front entrance.
Gripping the mop handle with a white-knuckled fist, the young man swore under his breath. He didn’t have to take this. He didn’t have to lower himself to do this demeaning job if he didn’t want to. Hey, in a couple of years when he finally got his degree, he consoled himself, he could say goodbye to part-time jobs like this one. And then he could hold his head high for a reason.
He still wished, though, as he hung his coveralls on a nail in the supply room, that he could get something with better pay. He wished he could hang up those grimy coveralls forever and walk out of this office building and never look back. But part-time jobs for guys like him were not easy to come by, so what other option did he have? He shook his head in despair as he locked the front entrance and turned to walk the mile that would take him home.
He was glad tomorrow was Saturday. The frenetic hustle of the past weeks was getting to him; he felt dead on his feet. He’d been up at seven every morning, out walking to the university by eight, in class by nine, rushing to his janitor’s job when classes were over, then finally getting home by eight-thirty at night to study or finish up an assignment. But, he reasoned, he had to keep up those grades; high marks could mean a much-needed scholarship. After studying, he would grab a bite to eat and fall into bed. And then, come Monday morning, it would all start again.
One day it would be over. One day, as his father often told him, his hard work and diligent study would reward him. He would have it all. But hold on here a minute, that was the future. This was the here-and-now. Could he keep it up? Was he able to stick to this pace until his goals had reached fruition? Did he have it in him?
Maybe he should quit this job and find a better one. The few dollars he did earn, along with his student loan, were just keeping his head above water. Maybe he should march into that big shiny office complex on Monday and just tell them what they could do with their job. He would have time then to find a decent one.
Where would he look? Prospects were bleak. His buddies at school told him he was lucky when he nabbed the janitor’s job. He let out a self-deprecating laugh. Some lucky.
A sigh of fatigue escaped his lips as he shuffled up the driveway of his father’s house. Shoulders slumped, he walked down the steps to the side entrance of the basement apartment, pushed open the door and went inside.
His eyes, longing to close in sleep, blinked at the cheery brightness of the small apartment kitchen. His tired gaze fell at last on the woman sitting in the rocking chair, a baby in her arms. His face visibly softened as he looked into the woman’s eyes, as weary as his own, and he smiled back as her lips curved with pleasure at the sight of him.
“Hard day?” he asked, tossing his jacket over the back of a chair.
The woman shrugged. “This little guy finally went to sleep just now. Boy, is he a handful! But I’m not complaining,” she said quickly. “How about you – that job working out?”
“Piece of cake,” he replied, bending to kiss her and to smile at his sleeping baby son.
Annika Perry – no relation to yours truly – is a writer, wife and mother who was born in Sweden and lives in the UK. She is busy finalizing edits on her first short story collection, and is also working on the last edits for her debut novel, Island Girl.
From her About page:
“Writing has been a passion since childhood although it is only in the past year that I have seriously started to write fiction.
In Spring 2014 I won First Prize in the Writing Magazine Short Story Competition which was a joy. Furthermore, I was short-listed for Inktears Short Story Competition in 2014.”
I’ve highlighted the following post of Annika’s where she shares the highs and lows, as well as the distractions, of the editing process. For example, how does a breakfast bowl end up in the bathroom? Check it out:
Norm 2.0 is a “born and raised bilingual Montrealer” who I’ve followed for the last few years here on WordPress, and more recently on Instagram.
I particularly enjoy his weekly photography feature, Thursday Doors, “allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world.”
From his About page:
“Among my many interests, I like to write, travel, bake, work wood, enjoy wine, play tennis, grow vegetables and take pictures.
This blog is my creative outlet to share any of the above and so much more.”
I selfishly chose the following post of Norm’s to highlight because it’s his Thursday Door post from right here in Newfoundland and Labrador. The photos are from his recent trip to Gros Morne National Park on the west coast of the province.
One of my favourite bloggers is George over at The Off Key of Life.
George’sAboutpage 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?
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 programsthat 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 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)!
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.
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?