Ways to Keep Your Writing Alive

What ways can you keep active, even when you don’t have a specific writing project on the go? As I dodge responsibility left and right, I ponder how to keep viable as a writer. Solution? Write a new blog post!

Writing a blog post is just one tactic though. Even if you don’t have a bigger project on the go (or are stumped with what direction to take the one you are working on at present) what else can you do?

Ways to Keep Writing

Choosing a new place to write is a great idea, but leave trees out of it! Those inane scratches are permanent scars a tree has to carry forevermore. Make your words count!
  • review a book
  • comment on a book review
  • update your social media pages (Think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Add updates, refresh contact info and pictures, rewrite bio, etc)
  • start a new social media account (Haven’t tried Google+? Give it a gander. New to Pinterest? Pin on! Unsure about Snapchat? Get snapping.)
  • brainstorm for ideas for blog posts
  • edit an existing piece of writing (yours or someone else’s)
  • take a writing class
  • send out queries for new article ideas
  • write in a journal
  • write in a different place than you normally do
  • tackle a writing prompt (try writing microfiction, or write something from a photo or written prompt)

The important thing is not always what you write, but that you keep practicing your art. With time, comes comfort and ease in the process. Plus, the more you write, the better your writing will become! So get writing. I just did.

Advertisements

A Guest Post: The Hitch…

Done!

I just finished a difficult article that challenged my writing skills, and sense of diplomacy. Writing skills might be self-explanatory, but diplomacy, you ask? Yup. Let me explain.

A Guest Post

Everyone says it’s good to accept guest post roles on other blogs, and to feature them on your own. And I agree. Unfortunately, the process is not always as smooth as it could be. That was the case for me with this particular article.

Now I should say that I did do my research beforehand. After receiving the offer, I checked out the third party’s website, read google reviews on the company, checked them out on Houzz and the BBB. They seemed like a decent company, offering a quality service. So I advised my client that it would be a fine idea to go ahead with the project. We exchanged emails and agreed upon content for each other’s blogs. No problem.

The Hitch

The hitch came when the person I originally dealt with disappeared and was replaced by someone new. Things seemed to go downhill from there. I can roll with the punches though, so I kept on. In for a penny, in for a pound, right?

I researched and wrote an article for the other party. I do that all the time, so fairly straight forward process. Check! Step one done, I sent it to them. Within the week, it was published on their blog. Yippee! I followed this up with my due diligence and flogged links to the article on my client’s social media sites. Check, check! Can’t say I don’t know how it is supposed to work.

The Switch

Then I waited to hear about the reciprocal blog. And waited. My new contact got in touch with me. They assured me the article was coming. They had just been bogged down, but were on it. Of course …. In the interim, I continued to write articles for my client, worried I may have just wasted their time. Sure enough though, an article came through.

My relief was quickly snuffed when I read the article though. Keep in mind that the article was to be featured on my client’s blog. And I pride myself on the quality of the content published there. All articles are read and re-read by myself before publishing, any mistakes made get addressed quickly and professionally, and I do my best to ensure that my client is happy with what I write. This article was not up to those standards. Not even the pictures they sent me really worked with what I wanted to put forth.

fudge…

The Solution

What would you do in that situation? I couldn’t publish it as it was. I thought about cutting my losses and chalking it up to lesson learned. But the third party had made the effort to get me something. And they had stuck to their side of the bargain by publishing our article. Plus, they followed up with the first email with another asking when it would be published. So I made the decision to see how best I could salvage the situation (after agonizing over it for a few days).

After doing a little tuck tail, apologizing to my client for the less than ideal outcome, and almost completely revamping the article, I published it today. I included snippets of what was originally sent to me, but filled in many of the holes with quotes from our resident expert, plus info from other experts in the field. Really though, I could have skipped the middle man and written the entire article by myself, foregoing the angst, multiple emails back and forth, and a heap of edits. I still feel like it was a good exercise, but unfortunately, got bogged down with being offered an inferior product in the exchange.

What did I get out of the deal? Well, I lost wages, as I didn’t think it fair to charge my client for all the excess time spent dealing with the issue. But in the grand scheme of things, I was given the compliment that my writing is good. Better than good, as my client loves my work and appreciates the voice I bring to their blog. And the third party also commented along the way that they like our blog’s content and style as well, hence why they sought us out in the first place.

So perhaps what I have learned is that I need to value my personal writing style and voice a little more. I put time and effort into my writing and it shows. You cannot fake quality. And I’ve got it. If you want it, you’ll have to earn and deserve my skills. Because it’s not worth my time to just throw it away in the future. While I won’t rule out doing another guest post or accepting one on mine or a client’s blog, I certainly won’t accept just anything.  Networking is valuable, but not if it doesn’t offer a return for the efforts. And I am better than just throwing out my writing to just anyone for free.

As a writing teacher once told me—a writer can die from ‘exposure’. No need to make that mistake again.

Communication: The Key to Social Media

One of my clients is a local tree services company. As much as I handle most of their social media and write all of their blog posts, I couldn’t do it without help. This week’s blog for them is a great example of that. It has received lots of positive feedback already, which I appreciate, but much of the content in the post itself came directly from them. And that is what a good working relationship looks like.

I can wrangle words til the cow comes home (Watch out, this be cliché country!), but the process is always far more productive and positive when I get support, suggestions and feedback from clients. What do they want to see written? Did one article work better for them than another? Have I missed the mark on the message I am trying to put across or is it just not in their tone? Tell me! I try to do my best, but always encourage guidance, so that what I put out there is reflective of my clients. If they don’t like it, or their audience doesn’t like it, then I am wasting all of our time.

Thank you to Pam, for taking the time to answer my questions and provide me with pictures on a regular basis. When I can catch you Calvin, you are a wonderful fount of information and the person I want to please most. Curt, you have been the voice in my head for years inspiring many blog posts. Your encouraging words mean a lot to me Christine. And if Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. Your smile tells me I’m doing alright Anna Marie. There are plenty of other people at CLC Tree Services who keep their fabulous company hopping. I hope you know what a great company you have chosen to work for!

I will be forever grateful to you all for putting your trust in me. And for helping me put more trust in myself. I look to your company as proof that social media marketing works and that with communication all around, it can do wonders, especially for a small business.

Facebook Page screenshot
I might not have planted any of these trees, but I have seen more than one go into the ground at the side of CLC. They love their trees & their passion is contagious.

 

Blogging: Is It Still Relevant?

blog

BLOGGING |

I have been blogging since 2009. That might sound like a long time, but in the early days, my blog was more akin to a journal entry; I recorded daily happenings, thoughts, lists, and whatever else struck me. Many of the entries didn’t have pictures and visitors to my page were rare. Such was my start, but also a reflection on the still-morphing existence of weblogs.

While Justin Hall is noted as the first person to ‘blog’ back in 1994, many more have come after him. Hall’s early ‘personal homepage’, begat many blogging platforms within a few short years, and the growth of this new phenomenon has only grown from there. Blogger and LiveJournal launched hosted web tools in 1999, and WordPress, arguably one of the most popular blogging platforms today, joined the fray in 2003.

I happen to have blogs on both Blogger and WordPress, but there are plenty more sites you can turn to today, from Medium to Squarespace, Tumblr to Drupal, Type Pad to Weebly, and so many more. The platform might change, but the concept remains the same—sharing content with others in a setting where it can be commented upon and shared at will. It is a great medium for writers, people with hobbies or specific interests, and businesses who want to establish a voice for themselves on the web.

Changing Face of Blogging

Like anything though, the face of blogging is changing. Where people once shared stories of their personal days and challenges—Mommy bloggers are still a huge part of the blogging world—topics have exploded from there. Whether it be politics, journalism, art critique, travel, dating, or food prep, you can find a blog for that. But where some people avidly read many blogs a few years ago, nowadays the average person’s attention span is so torn by the constant influx of social media content, that the influence of blogging is changing.

No longer will your take on Grannie’s home remedies be relevant, when your humble blog goes up against trusted big-name websites. You have to have something relevant and unique to say, and it has to be presented in a visually appealing way, not to mention that it be well written. If you are touching on current events, they have to be timely too, not to mention accurate in detail. And even if you write a fantastic post that draws in readers, that’s still not enough. Today’s bloggers need to consistently create good content on a regular basis, promote it to the hilt, and interact with readers to make sure they are a part of the experience.

Tall order? Maybe, but that’s the name of the game, especially if you are a small business who is trying to get your voice heard in the echo-chamber that is today’s social media world. I have talked to people in person, discussed the relevance of blogs with folks on Twitter, read umpteen numbers of articles across the web (yes, I still read blogs), and pondered how best to get the biggest bang for your buck with blogging.

  • regular posting
  • quality content
  • maximize shareability
  • vary the style of posts (graphics, words, pictures, videos, lists, long posts, short posts, podcasts, etc.)

Are blogs still relevant? You bet they are. How you make yours relevant is the key though. It can be a lot of work, but still worth the effort, especially for small businesses looking for more people to find them amongst all the online chatter. Think smarter and reach out to those in the know. Ask questions, talk to experts, and don’t forget the darn SEO, headings, keywords and alt tags while you’re at it.

While this go viral? Probably not, but it doesn’t matter. It helps me to write it down in a cohesive manner and understand it better myself. It also adds content to my stream. And hopefully it will strike a chord with my readers. Do you have anything to add?

I wish you good writing and longevity in your blogging endeavours!

Head in the Clouds

My head is swimming. It doesn’t even have much to do with work today. After being away for a week, I put my head down and got right down to it. I got posts scheduled for clients, announcements finalized and published, and a nomination application draft sent to another client for feedback. It’s been a busy day!

The problem is my head is still in the clouds. Darn jet lag has my brain feeling mushy. Here’s hoping it’ll come in for a landing shortly!

clouds
Head in the Clouds