Blogging from A-Z – A-Z of Blogging – G

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Today’s letter for the Blogging from A-Z April Challenge is G.  G in my series for this challenge, the A – Z of Blogging stands for Goals, Graphics and Guest Posts.

Goals.  Goals differ from blogger to blogger and can depend on many different factors including how long you have been blogging for.  If you are setting yourself any kind of goal it is useful to follow the “SMART” rules – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely.  Breaking down your goal like this gives you an idea of how you will meet that goal.  There is no point in saying, for example, that you want to reach 1000 followers and then do nothing about it aside from post to your blog once in a while, you need to think about what you can do to make that goal reality, how you will get there when you want to reach that goal and if you can do it in that timeframe that you want.  Getting 1000 followers in a month maybe attainable if you have been blogging for years and gain a few hundred followers a week, but as a new blogger, you need to be realistic and set a goal of maybe 10 followers in a month then increase the number of followers you would like month on month.  My advice is to be realistic and re-assess each month how your goals are going and re-adjust the figures and your strategies accordingly.

Graphics.  Graphics are images that are added into a blog post or to parts of your blog, such as your blog banner and should always be legible and fit with the theme of your blog or the post you are writing.  You can use images you have taken, create graphics using software or add in stock images.  Most bloggers will add at least one graphic to a block of text to draw in the reader’s interest, illustrate what the post is about and to add in a break in between a lot of text.  There are a few simple rules when using graphics, that they are relevant, good quality and add to the text.  If the graphics don’t make sense to the text, don’t use them, graphics are not always necessary.

Guest Post.  A guest post is a post that you write for someone elses blog or that you invite other bloggers to write for your blog.  This kind of post is usually asked for by the person who owns the blog and, should you be asked or chosen to write a post will usually follow a topic of the blog owners choice.  If you want to find bloggers who are looking for guest posters I would search for tags such as #guestposterswanted on Twitter or other social media sites.  Guest posts are a brilliant way to build backlinks (Which I spoke about here), reach new audiences, build connections and networks.

Do you have any other blogging terms for the letter G?  Or do you have any thoughts on Goals, Graphics or Guest Posts?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Blogging from A-Z – A-Z of Blogging – F

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Todays Blogging from A-Z letter is F and in my A-Z of Blogging, F stands for Facebook, Followers and Forward Planning.

Facebook.  Facebook is a brilliant tool for promoting your blog posts to friends and family.  It is also a useful tool to find other bloggers groups where you can share your blog posts or ask questions, find help and support or other like-minded bloggers to network with.

Followers.  Followers are the readers who like your blog and want to keep up with all of your blog posts.  Most blogging platforms have an option to follow a blog and new posts from the blogs that are followed will appear in a separate place along with other blogs that they follow.  While followers are a brilliant thing to have, it is worth remembering not to get too hung up on how many followers you do or don’t have, many people may not use a blogging platform and just save your URL  to their favourites on their computer and visit you that way.

Forward Planning.  Forward planning is an essential part of blogging for many bloggers.  Forward planning enables you to plan what you are going to write and when it will be published to your blog allowing you to spread your blog posts over the month.  All you need is a diary or a spreadsheet that is set up like a calendar where you can jot down ideas for posts against the dates you would like them to appear.    I like to use a spreadsheet as I can place ideas against dates and move them about if I decide to write something else for that day.

What are your thoughts on Facebook, followers and forward planning?  I’d love to hear them so let me know in the comments!

 

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!

Words on Wednesday

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I have signed up for the Blogging from A-Z Challenge, a blog challenge that starts with a topic of your choice beginning with A on the 1st of April and ending with a Z on the 30th April (skipping Sundays!)  I took part last year and really enjoyed it so have decided to participate again this year too!  I have a theme all ready to go and am drafting my introduction post this week to be ready for the last day in March!

I love a blog challenge and have tried my hand, so far, at Blogtober, Blogmas and Blogging from A-Z.  I am considering taking part in NaNoWriMo this year instead of doing Blogtober and Blogmas, or maybe even doing all 3 but that’s a long way off!  I love that these challenges can boost the sense of community, encourage us to support other bloggers/writers, introduce us to new blogs, push our skills, encourage us to write better and more engaging content, learn more and have fun along the way.  Another great thing is that it gives us the freedom to try something new with our blogs without the commitment of making a full change, we can test things out, see if we like them and if ourselves and our readers like them we can use them in the future, the same goes for trying something and then it not being as successful as we thought it was, we can drop it for the time being.

Are you taking part in any blog challenges this year?  Let me know in the comments as I’d love to know your thoughts on blog challenges and the ones you do (or don’t!) take part in!

 

K is for KonMarie

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You can find information about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge here or read the rest of my A to Z posts by following this link.

Today marks the 11th day of the Blogging From A – Z Challenge and that means today’s corresponding letter is the letter K.  Today I am writing about the KonMarie Method and why it didn’t work for me.

I’m sure most people have heard of Marie Kondo and her book “Life Changing Magic of Tidying” which was published in 2016 with a follow-up book “Spark Joy” following in the following year, 2017.  Since then there has also been a programme “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” which is available on Netflix.  The method that Marie Kondo teaches, fondly referred to as KonMarie, with regard to our stuff and things, is to hold a “tidying festival” and go through our belongings in a set way, starting with clothing and ending with kimono (miscellaneous).  It involves piling all the items together that belong in each category, so for clothes you would gather every item of clothing you own, from jumpers, underwear, sportswear, hats, gloves, shoes, boots, into a pile and start going through them.  That sounds easy enough, but you have to hold each item and thank it, decide whether it sparks joy or not and then discard any item which doesn’t leave you feeling joyful.  Then you need to fold the items you will keep in a certain way and put them away.  Not only will everything you own, eventually, spark joy from within but you end up with a nice, tidy home with space for everything you own.

This sounds like a really good way to decide on what to keep and what not to, but for me, well, I started with my clothes and got rid of a fair amount of things which didn’t spark any sort of feeling for me at the time.   I did end up with a really tidy home which was a positive outcome, and my book shelves and drawers, cupboards and wardrobes never looked more organised and tidy.  But, what didn’t work for me started further down the line, a few months later.

I found that, even though I had willingly gotten rid of things and had this whole neat space around me, I started to regret getting rid of things.  It started with a coat that I had got rid of.  Admittedly, I had not worn it for a year or so but I missed it being there, ready to reach for whenever I wanted it.  Then there were books that had gone that I suddenly wanted to re-read, decorations that I wanted to put out and vases that I no longer had that would have been useful at the time.  I found that “joy” for me, is a pretty subjective feeling.  One day I can really love something, and the next it just be forgotten about, then I will re-discover it and love it again, and this goes in cycles, happening to all of my belonging, not just clothes.  And for this reason, Marie Kondo and the KonMarie method really didn’t work for me.  Not just that, but all the things I said goodbye to, have pretty much been replaced with similar items as time has gone on.

Have you tried the KonMarie Method?  Did it work for you?

 

C is for Crafts

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You can find information about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge here or read the rest of my A to Z posts by following this link.

Today, the Blogging from A – Z Challenge is the letter C, and I thought I would do a post dedicated to crafts, crafts that I have tried and crafts that I would like to try at some point.  I will be sharing what these crafts are and why they appeal to me.

Crafts I have tried

  • Artist Trading Cards.  I discovered Artist Trading Cards (also known as ATC’s) several years ago through a friend on Live Journal (remember that blogging platform?!).  These are little works of art that are made on card that is 2.5 x 3.5 inches in size (the same size as playing cards).  The artist creates artwork on them that is, usually, in their normal style and then these would be traded with other artists, a bit like business cards would be traded among business persons.  I really liked making ATC’s as the size was perfect to create on and less daunting than a full size canvas and I liked how quickly you could make artwork.  I also liked how versatile you could be, trying new techniques or skills you have learned.  I have not made any for a while as I don’t have anyone to trade with….
  • Calligraphy.  Calligraphy is a really intricate and ornate form of handwriting that is undertaken with an ink pen and special pen nibs.  Sometime nibs are wide, others are really flexible and can produce a huge, stunning range of different effects.  You can find loads of videos on the internet of people practicing calligraphy and I’ve spent many an hour mesmerised by the whole process.  As with all hand lettering, this is something that you really need to take time over and practice to achieve really good effects.  I really wish I had the patience to sit and practice daily to improve my writing.
  • Candle Making.  I have written a whole post on candle making which you can find here.  I really like being able to make candles as presents and with the range of scent options available you can make something truly personalised to that persons style.  I have since started to make wax melts which is a perfect way to use up any left over wax and scents.
  • Card Making.  I started out making cards for friends and family back in the early 2000’s as I couldn’t always find cards that I liked or that were suitable.  I really enjoyed the whole process, from thinking about ideas for cards, hunting for the right papers and making embellishments to seeing the face of the receiver when I gave them the card I had spent time making.  I enjoyed it so much that I started to make and sell them.  I stopped making cards when I started uni as I didn’t have the time and my creative energies were spent on my class projects but I’m now slowly starting to get back into making cards for family and friends again.
  • Ceramics.  I played around with ceramics in the 90’s when I was in school and I really loved making things from clay and glazing and firing them.  I was never really sure how they would look until they came out of the oven so there was always an element of surprise.  I would really like to try this again but don’t have the space for a ceramics oven or the funds to be able to afford to take this up at present.
  • Collage.  I was not really interested in collage until I started my Foundation Degree in Art, Media and Design where we made boards of inspirational images to use as part of our research and development stage for projects.  I really like the look of some of the collages you can find online, some of them are really well thought out and clever.  I have been thinking about using a pinboard and making my own that I can change around whenever I fancy, full of quotes and images that I find inspirational.
  • Glass Painting.  I dabbled in glass painting a few years ago and decorated vases and bottles using old nail varnishes and a black fabric paint as the design outline.  The things I created were given away as gifts.   I like the idea that you can turn even a simple coffee jar into a work of art and the object gets a new lease of life instead of being binned.  I think that combining candle making with glass painting to create decorated candle holders with the hand-made candle inside would be a lovely way to mix these two skills.
  • Jewellery Making.  My interest in jewellery making started as a kid when my Mum and Dad bought me a book about jewellery that came with some beads and jewellery findings.  I devoured the book from cover to cover and then re-read it several times!  I made all the projects in the book and then went on to buy tons of seed beads from the local market.  I learned to weave them into patterns and made bracelets, necklaces, rings and ankle chains from them.  Since then I have branched out into making charms and key chains from lots of different things like shells and toys from crackers.  Jewellery making is really fun and you can make things as complicated or as simple as you want and it’s really nie to be able to wear something you have made and get compliments on it.
  • Knitting.  My Mum taught me how to knit when I was small though I never got further than the basics and can knit a pretty nifty scarf in basic stitch now.  I dip in and out of knitting but get frustrated because it takes a lot of time to create something as I am so slow.  I also find I have to really concentrate or I forget where I am and what I am doing and drop stitches and make other mistakes so it’s not something I tend to do.  I really admire people like my mum who seem to be able to create really lovely things like jumpers and toys and appreciate the effort and time that goes into this craft though it’s not really something I can see myself getting fully immersed in.
  • Polymer Clay.  Polymer clay is so versatile.  I an’t remember when I first discovered polymer clay so I must have been fairly small at the time but it is something I always have in my craft stash.  I have made beads from it, card toppers, little trinket dishes and little ornaments.  I love that this medium can be used for so many different things, doesn’t take up too much space and you can bake it in your home oven to harden it.  It is available now in so many finishes too.
  • Print Making.  When I was a kid I used to love carving up potatoes and making prints with them and since then I have tried other methods of print making including etching, lino printing, screen printing and something my college tutor called glue prints.  Glue prints are one of my favorites and really easy to do, all you need is some thick card and PVA glue and a print medium like paint or ink.  PVA glue is used to create the image you would like, and you build up areas with layers of glue and leave it to dry in between.  Once the layers are dry you apply your print medium then place it face down onto damp paper, rub the back of it then lift up.  I’ve not done this for a while but I do have plans and ideas that I would like to try at some point soon!
  • Scrapbooking.  Scrapbooking was a natural progression as it used the same skills, and items, that I had already gained from making cards.  I started out with a 12 x 12 inch scrapbook and papers and really liked to record my memories in a creative way.  Since then I have diversified and have used other sizes of scrapbook.  I currently have a La De Dah journal that I am using as a scrapbook.  I love that you can add anything and everything to a page, whether it be journal pages, quotes, images, embellishments and really, the only boundary is your imagination.

Crafts I’d like to try

  • Book Making.  I love the idea of making my own books to journal in and would love to use all sorts of different papers.  I have seen so many lovely hand-made books and really want to give this a go at some point in the future.  These would make really lovely presents too.
  • Felting.  I really would like to try my hand at felting different things.  From what I have seen, there are so many amazing things you can make felting from cute little critters to flowers and jewellery besides a whole host of other things.  I think that I would make some felt embellishments for cards and scrapbook pages.
  • Floristry.  Floristry seems to be a craft that could be really calming.  I like the idea of creating beautiful decorations for the home using flowers and greenery.  And there really is nothing better than the scent of fresh filling your home afterwards!
  • Macrame.  Macrame is the art of knotting strings and has become really big in the last few years and can be found in wall hangings and plant holders, bags and other decorative objects.  I love the look of some of the wall hangings that have been made using the macrame technique and really would like to give it a go to create something of my own to hang up.
  • Mosaics.  I have always loved the look of mosaics and how versatile it can be in interiors, from frames to vases, table tops and floors, it is a way of injecting interest, pattern and colour to a range of different objects.  I like that you can create a mosaic using all manner of materials not just coloured tiles.
  • Soap Making.  I would like to learn how to make my own soaps and create my own scent for them and make different soaps for different types of skin.  These would be lovely to gift to friends and family as well.