Blogging from A-Z – A-Z of Blogging – E

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Today’s Blogging from A-Z – A-Z of Blogging is the letter E.  E is for Editing and Engagement.

Editing.  Editing is a really important step in composing a blog post and is worth spending some time on.  Once a post has been written, reading back through it slowly and out loud can help with finding any problems with any grammar or punctuation errors, or even sentences that don’t flow properly.  I like to write a post, leave it for a day, saving it as a draft, then re-visiting it to read through and make any sentence and grammar changes.  While in the editing stage I will make sure all spellings are correct and add in any links I want to include before scheduling a time for the post to be published.

Engagement.  Engagement is often thought of as comments being left on a published post but in reality, it is so much more than that.  Engagement encompasses things like post stats, amount of time visitors spend on that post and where they go on your blog from that point.  Engagement can help you to see which topics appeal to your audience most and can help to shape your blog for the future.

What other “E” words can you think of that are relevant to blogging?  What are your thoughts on editing and engagement?  I’d love to hear your comments so let me know below!

Blogging from A-Z – A-Z of Blogging – D

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Today the Blogging from A-Z Challenge letter is D and as my theme is the A-Z of Blogging I will be covering the following topics – Demographic, Domain and Do’s and Don’ts.

Demographic.  A demographic is a set of people grouped together by any given trait – for example, women under 50, men over 40.  For bloggers, your demographic is your target audience, but not necessarily the audience you write for, its the readers who visit your blog.  You may think you are writing for a mid-30’s businesswoman who wants to make the most of her spare time but you may attract such readers like mothers, older or younger people and knowing your demographic can help you to write better posts that appeal to them even more.  There are several ways of finding out your demographic from using stats and analytics tools to polls and reading the comments that readers leave, however you find out your demographic appeal doesn’t really matter just that you know the kinds of people that are visiting your blog so you can create more targeted content for them and keep them coming back time and again.

Domain.  The domain is the address of your website, most free blogs have a “yourblog.blogprovider.com” format and you can usually drop the “blogprovider” part by paying a subscription to your provider.  It is worth thinking about what you want to call your blog and how the domain will appear.  You should make the domain simple, memorable and uncomplicated.  Once you have chosen the name for the domain it is worth checking social media sites and google to see if that name is already in use before committing to that name.  Once you have created your domain name, set up an email account that you can use specifically for your blog and blog-related things then sign up to all social media sites and secure your user name on them too, even the sites you may not use at present, as you never know when you may want to use them in the future.

Do’s and Don’ts.  There are a ton of different do’s and don’ts in the blog world so I won’t cover them all here but a few basics are…

  • Do leave comments on blogs you read that are relevant to the topics covered.
  • Don’t just leave random “follow me” or “check out my blog” comments.
  • Do find other blogs that are in a similar niche to you, read them and follow them.
  • Don’t just follow a ton of blogs to get people to follow you back.
  • Do leave a “like” for posts that you have genuinely enjoyed reading.
  • Don’t scroll through someone’s blog and just like all their posts without reading them.
  • Do try to post regularly, whether it is once a month, week or day being consistent helps your followers to know when to expect a post.
  • Don’t spew out a ton of posts on one day and then post nothing for ages, try to stagger and schedule posts across a few days/weeks.

Do you have any other “D’s” to add?  I’d love to hear about them and any thoughts you may have, so leave me a comment!

Blogging from A-Z – A-Z of Blogging – C

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Today’s Blogging from A-Z letter is C which, in my A-Z of Blogging means Call To Action, Categories, Comments and Costs.

Call to Action. A call to action is something that you add at the end of a blog post and asks your readers to do something,   This action could be “pop over to my Instagram account and follow me to see what I have been up to” or “let me known what you think of this post in the comments”.  It is something that you can use to interact with your readers and build up rapport.  If you want people to comment or follow you on other social media channels, or to subscribe to a mailing list it is worth including a call to action in your blog posts.

Categories.  Most blogging platforms allow you to add categories and tags to a blog post, I will be talking about tags later in this series so for now, I shall focus on categories.  I like to think about categories as an index system which allows readers to find other posts related to that category, whether it is “recipes” or “gardening tips”.  Categories help your reader to stay on your site for longer and read posts related to certain topics.  If a reader likes the post they have just read they can easily find other posts on the same topic if you add categories to each post you share.

Comments.  Comments are a brilliant way to engage with your readers and allow you to work out whether the things you post are having an impact.  They allow the reader to voice an opinion and let you know what they think about the topic you have covered.  When leaving a comment on another blog it is worth keeping in mind a few things – always be courteous, keep your comments relevant to the post and do not spam with “follow me”, “read my blog” or any other irrelevant comments.  I, personally, delete any comments that are not relevant to the post or my blog especially any “read my blog” comments as I don’t want my readers to be bombarded with anything that isn’t relevant to my post.

Cost.  Blogging can cost you thousands, or it can cost you nothing at all but it depends on what you want to do with your blog that matters most.  I pay for my .com web address and also for having a premium plan on WordPress.  If you are a hobby blogger then it may be worth just having the free services to start with then decide if you would like any extras that other plans can provide you.  My advice would be to start off with a free service and test it out before committing to a paid plan if you would like any other services.  I also pay for Canva which is a graphics software app that allows you to create banners, social media images and other things which can be useful blogging tools to add colour and pictures to your blog and social media feeds.  But, it is ok to blog for free, just remember that it is your space and you can do with it what you like, and just because it is free it doesn’t make you any less of a good blogger just like spending lots of money on a blog doesn’t automatically make you a good blogger.

Do you have any thoughts, comments or additions to the letter C of my A-Z of Blogging?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Blogging from A-Z – A-Z of Blogging – B

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Today’s Blogging from A-Z ChallengeBlogging from A-Z Challenge is all about the letter B, and in my A-Z of Blogging, B stands for Backlinks, Blog Challenges, Bloggers Block and Breaks.

Backlinks.  Backlinks are nifty “mentions” by other websites who provide a link back to your blog and are used by places like Google to rank your website and helps them to decide whether your site is trustworthy.  A really good way to get mentions and link backs to your site is to take part in things like Awards (you can check out my post yesterday to read about what awards are) as, usually, with these awards, you thank the person that gave you the award before completing the tasks set for the award.  By paying these awards forward you can start to build-up backlinks.  The best kind of backlinks to get are from bigger, trusted websites so look for opportunities where you might be able to write a guest post or an interview for them (I was featured on Mind who have provided me with a link back to my blog).

Blog Challenges.  There are several different blog challenges, this one I am currently taking part in, Blogtober which takes place in October and Blogmas are the main ones that I try to take part in.  Other bloggers try to take part in NaNoWriMo which is the National Novel Writing Month.  Blog challenges can be both a blessing and a curse, there are many positives about undertaking a challenge – they push you to write nearly every day, help your writing skills, let you be more creative with your blog, give new ideas a try.  There are some downsides too if you are not used to writing everyday challenges can push you to your limits in terms of the amount of time it can take up. it can be intense and sometimes it can lead to things like burn out.  Before starting any challenge it is best to sit down and think about the topics you want to cover and the sort of things you want to write about and whether you can commit to it timewise.  But, they re fun and you meet some other lovely bloggers along the way.

Bloggers Block.  Bloggers block is much like writers’ block, you want to write but just end up sitting and staring at a blank screen for hours with this white noise fuzz in your head, and it is not fun, especially if you have a schedule and the pressure to produce something.  One way to avoid writers’ block is to always have a notebook or a note on your phone where you write down any ideas that you may have for future blog posts, it doesn’t matter if these never get written or the list ever read, but having a list is a great fall back to have if bloggers block strikes.

Breaks.  Taking a break from your blog every now and again is a really good idea, we all get some kind of annual leave allowance with our jobs which allow us to relax, recoup and re-energise ourselves and a break from blogging should be treated in much the same way.  If you are forever working on your blog and not really getting where you want it is probably a good time to schedule a blog break where you can step away and disengage yourself for a bit.  Taking a break can help you to re-think your blogging strategy and re-energise yourself, give you time to think and come up with fresh ideas.  Taking a break should be encouraged and is never a bad thing.

What are your thoughts on backlinks, blog challenges, bloggers blocks and breaks?  I’d love to hear your thoughts or any other “B”s that you could think of so leave me a comment!

Blogging From A-Z – A-Z of Blogging – A

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A is for About, Advertising, Audience and Awards.

Your About Page is probably one of the most important pages on your blog and is one that you should spend time carefully constructing.  It is the page that most people will find their way to in order to find out more about you and your blog and a place where you can let people know the sorts of things they can find on your blog such as topics you cover regularly and what they can get from your blog (for example, if you run tutorials the things they can learn).  I like to think of the about page as being similar to the back cover page of a book where you can find out about the author.  There are lots of helpful sites on the internet that have guides for writing a good About Page but the basics for building a page are to give a little information about you that are interesting, such as your hobbies and interests, where you are from, why you started your blog, the topics you write about and what you hope your readers will get out of the blog.

Advertising.  I spent a long time shortly after I started this blog, researching ways to drive more traffic to my website and in the end I decided that using social media was a good way to advertise my blog.  I’ve never paid for advertising but my blog has a Facebook Page, a Twitter and and Instagram which I share blog posts and images to.  I search relevant hashtags and will follow people in my blog niche.  Advertising, as a blogger, is more about getting your name out there rather than paying for an ad to appear in targeted social media group.

Audience.  When starting a blog, before you have even written a word of a blog post it is worth thinking about who you want to read your blog.  It is all well and good to want everyone to read your blog but each person is different and you can not write for the masses.  Think about the types of post you want to write, what they will be about, the tone of your post – will it be serious or light hearted, chatty or business like, and start building up a mental picture of the persons who would be likely to read your posts.  If, for example, you are writing about technology – computers and mobile devices you are likely to have more appeal to the younger generation and the tech savvy, you start to imagine what the typical reader would look like, what sort of job they may have etc, which will help you to pitch your blog post in just the right way, using language, words, phrases and tone to attract them.

Awards.  Awards are fun things that bloggers share to other bloggers that they consider to be worthy of the title, for example, “The Sunshine Blogger Award”, and usually come with a set of questions written by the person giving the award.  These awards can be fun to take part in as they can give your audience a little more insight into who you are as well as introduce them to new bloggers as many awards ask for you to share the award with other bloggers, this in turn can attract further readers when the award is accepted as you usually have to thank the person that awarded you with it.  These are brilliant networking tools and I encourage you all to give them a go when you get nominated!

I hope you enjoyed the first part of Blogging From A-Z – A-Z of Blogging!  What are your thoughts on the about page, advertising, audience or awards?  do you have any other A’s that are important?  I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments!

I shall be back tomorrow with the letter B!

Blogging From A-Z Challenge – Theme Reveal

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Tomorrow marks the start of the Blogging from A-Z Challenge which I signed up to do again this year after undertaking and really enjoying the challenge last year.

After I signed up last month I was hit with worry about whether I would be able to take part and complete the challenge due to my dodgy internet connection but I am pleased to report that I seem to have the problem sorted now!  I am excited to be writing this post, looking forward to the coming month and getting back into a regular posting schedule!

The theme I have chosen for 2020’s Blogging from A-Z Challenge is the A-Z of Blogging.  Each day through April I will be covering all things blogging, starting with A on the 1st and working my way through the alphabet, letter by letter, day by day (except Sundays!)

Here is what my posting schedule will look like through April…

Week 1 (1st – 5th April) A, B, C, D, Sunday Off

Week 2 (6th – 12th April) E, F, G, H, I, J, Sunday Off

Week 3 (13th – 19th April) K, L, M, N, O, P, Sunday Off

Week 4 (20th – 26th April) Q, R, S, T, U, V, Sunday Off

Week 5 (27th – 30th April) W, X, Y, Z

While I say Sunday will be off, it will be the designated break day from the challenge, I am hoping to share a few links to other blogs that will be taking part!

If you are taking part and would like me to share a link to your blog please leave me a comment!

Words on Wednesday – Spreading Positivity

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You may have read yesterday’s blog post where I shared with you my mental health struggles that have been compounded by the coronavirus outbreak and though I am still struggling I have been finding ways to cope with the anxieties I have at the moment.

I spent a lot of the day doing housework, or more specifically, deep cleaning my bathroom.  I know that cleaning is not that high up on a lot of peoples “fun ways to spend time” lists but I find that it helps me a great deal, I can focus on what needs doing, how to clean and do the best job that I can.  I put some music on (if you are interested I listened to Greenday’s Greatest Hits and Gomez’s Bring It On albums), sang and bleached and scrubbed and mopped for a good few hours.

I also, after sending a few pics to a friend and having a conversation with them, I was inspired to use the virus isolation in a positive way.  So many of us are self-isolating and social distancing which can be hard for people, like me, who have mental health problems, but we are all doing incredible things at home to alleviate the boredom and finding ways to adapt to this new way of life. So, I created a new Instagram account (you can find it by searching @the_stay_home_club or by clicking here) which I want to use to share my own, and others, photos of fun things that they are doing while in isolation and staying at home.  I want the space to be a place of positivity, fun and full of inspiration, hints, tips and recommendations that can be shared with others who are in the stay home club.

I would love to see photos of things that you are doing while at home, whether it is the space you now occupy while working, what you are cooking, creating, how you are spending your time, what you are wearing (I’ve been wearing pjs and a hoodie much of the day), are you trying out something new (whether it is some kind of fashion, hairstyle, recipe or DIY), what sort of projects you are doing with your kids or even projects that you are doing, things you are watching, reading, listening to or playing, or something that is making you smile.  Anything that you are doing could inspire or help someone else and I want to help spread a little bit of positivity and inspiration to others using the powers of social media.  But, I can’t do this alone so I am asking for you to do a few things for me

  1. Come and follow me on Instagram, tag your photos using the #the_stay_home_club and @the_stay_home_club so I can find and share your photos*.
  2. Share the account on your social media sites and ask your friends to get involved.
  3. If you don’t have Instagram and want to share any photos please email them to me (colourful.life@outlook.com) and I will share them to Instagram for you**.

The more people that get involved the more positivity, inspiration and smiles will be shared.  Together we can make these scary and uncertain times a little bit brighter.

Will you help to spread a few smiles with me?

  • *credit will be given and your account tagged in any images that I re-post.
  • **I will add your blog handle or blog address to any images that you would like shared.  Alternatively, should you wish to remain anonymous let me know and I will just share them for you.

 

Coronavirus, Anxiety and Me

I have been in self-isolation for the past week and I am on the verge of returning to work after this 7 day period at home.  I have been ok physically but, as the coronavirus outbreak is worsening I am really starting to struggle with my mental health.

Last year I was absent from work with stress, anxiety and depression for nearly 6 months and up until a few days ago I felt pretty stable but now I am starting to struggle, especially with the anxiety side of my mental health.

I went shopping, as I usually do on payday and I normally buy much that I need for the month ahead.  In the days leading up to going shopping, I was hearing stories of the shops selling out of essentials that I normally buy monthly which started my anxiety levels to rise.

I get paid monthly, I live on my own, I have bills to pay and my monthly salary just about covers that along with food and other things I might need.  I have very little room monthly to save any money and budgeting for food is one way that I can keep in some kind of control of my finances.  When I went shopping (and I visited 3 different supermarkets), not one had items that I rely on for my monthly food shop.  I eat a lot of pasta, at least 3 times a week as I know that what I cook will do me for 3 meals (one that evening, then lunch with the leftovers for tea), there were no tins of baked beans that I eat on toast at least 2 times a week, there was no veg, the freezers were empty save for a few tubs of ice-cream.  There were no toilet rolls or dog food, laundry products, hand wash, bath products or bin bags.  This has caused me a lot of worry and expense.  I need to eat, my dog needs to eat and I have a budget that I really can’t go too far away from.

In the end, I was forced to buy dog food and pasta on-line (Amazon had some stocks available) but I paid over the odds.  Roxy usually has one type of food and I couldn’t get that so instead of spending the usual £9 on a bag I had to buy something that was similar in nutritional value and ingredients that cost twice as much.  And I have had to bulk buy pasta online spending a lot more than I usually do.

In addition to that, I am getting really anxious about how this virus will affect those around me, both my Mum and Dad are in the at-risk group and are retired and I am worried about their health and how they will manage in having to isolate themselves with things like food shopping and just remaining safe.  My brother is also in self-isolation for the foreseeable future as he is asthmatic.

I have been watching the news, not constantly but the important parts of it as the advice the government are giving seems to change on a daily, if not hourly, basis.  I don’t know whether watching it is making my anxiety worse or not but I do know that I would rather be armed with the facts and be up to date with advice that is being given.

I’m worried about going back to work, and I can’t help panicking about what would happen if I picked up the virus and carried it to my parents or transferred it to someone else and I am worried about how the virus could affect me.

I’m worried about what will happen with work and if the office will remain open and about working from home.  I was planning on getting broadband put into my home this month but can no longer afford to do so as my food bill was more than I had planned.  Not having broadband and having to rely on mobile internet might be ok for blogging and other general browsing but I don’t have enough data to work from home for 7.5 hours a day for 5 days let alone afford to do this indefinitely.  I don’t even know if working from home would be an option when the work I do means that I have access to personal data.

And I am worried about having an extended period of time away from work, whether I will still get paid, whether I will still have a job to go back to should I take leave and whether, if I have to have time off again due to my mental health (which was stable before this virus pandemic) whether it will go down as sick leave and how that will affect my sickness record and pay.

I am just really anxious and worried about everything at the moment and I’m struggling to see anything in a positive light with so few answers to any questions, the advice we are being given changing constantly and all these stupid people who are panic buying and making the situation even worse in the grand scheme of things.

Words On Wednesday – Coronavirus

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I’m currently in self-isolation; I have a bit of a cough and a sore throat, which in normal circumstances would not stop me carrying on my normal life of working and going places but due to the coronavirus I have decided to play it safe and stay away from others.

It is pretty scary how quickly the virus is spreading and we all have a responsibility, not just for our own health but for the health of others in order to protect the more vulnerable of our communities.  This also means that we need to place a great deal of trust in the others around us that they will self-isolate if there are signs that they are presenting with that could be detrimental to our health.

I have really bad anxiety which has gotten worse as more and more cases of the virus has presented itself coupled with my distrust in others and also the panic buying situation.  Both my parents and my friends, along with seeing images on social media, have reported shortages of all kinds of items which are causing my anxiety to soar.  As a person that needs to budget and has a meal plan and a list of things I need to buy on a monthly and weekly basis the panic buying situation in the UK is not helping matters.  I budget what for what I need on a monthly basis and am unsure of what the availability of the things I need will be when it comes to shopping and am not sure of the availability of items when I go shopping.

These are scary times that we are facing and I urge you all to self-isolate if you have any of the symptoms and also not to panic buy, think of the person that surround you and show compassion and kindness to those around you.