Writers and bloggers are always looking for tips and ideas to make their lives easier. This week’s series of posts has been inspired by the 2012 ARMCHAIR BEA virtiual convention and is a great example of one of one of the tips I’m sharing below.
Blogging, like any other writing form, is solitary. You define your topic, your strategy, your content, but there is a large community online that you can tap for inspiration and motivation. While it’s good to be focused and to stay on topic it doesn’t hurt to go outside your normal niche and look for ways to tweak ideas and make them fit your world. That helps you stay fresh and gives your readers a surprise.
- Check the news – Look at what’s going on in the real world and see if you can tweak a timely topic or trend to fit your readership. Obviously I’ll be writing about well-known writers, like Ray Bradbury, when they die and offer my own take on their lives and work. Celebrities, movie-tie ins, and headlines also offer opportunities that provide quick new content and, for bloggers, a potential boost in search rankings.
- Participate in online events – Find current online events that you can participate in. The ARMCHAIR BEA proved to be a great find for me. While it’s all about books, it is clearly about writers and writing, too. So I’ve participated daily with posts and tweaked them to fit my audience. Hopefully I’ve gained a few new readers, too. I get new content for my readers, a fresh perspective, and an opportunity to gain more exposure. Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone.
- Find a meme, take a challenge, participate in a read-a-thon– Memes and challenges are fun and interesting but you don’t want to overdo it. Pick one or two and make sure you can tweak them to your readership so that you’re imparting information, inspiration, or something of value for your readers and go for it. My current favorite right now is Top Ten Tuesday. It’s a perfect fit because I’m expanding the book and reader angle here. Since future topics are already calendared, I can plan and write posts at a more leisurely pace and schedule them so that I have at least one post in the upcoming week. The cool thing about memes is that they have a double whammy. Not only do you get content but when you post the link on the host’s site you increase exposure and find new readers. The same goes for challenges. I’ve joined the The Classics Club. I also participate in the Dewey Read-a-thons and post about my experiences–anything to encourage reading.
A little bit of organization can go a long way. This doesn’t mean you have to drill down and write every single task but it does help to have some organization. Look for ways to keep it fun, entertaining, and fruitful.
- Create an editorial calendar – Take a tip from magazine editors and spend a day or a few hours thinking about your content in relation to the seasonal calendar. Map out the four seasons, then brainstorm ideas. Book bloggers know that more books are released in advance of the holidays than at any other time. Pick a few titles to review that will fit easily into the season whether they’re geared for a specific holiday or the gift realm. Spring brings another avalanche of books. Summer is the season for light reading. Fall turns to back to school and a more studious mindset. You don’t have to do every idea. How much is up to you.
- Utilize regular features – This is a fun one for me and it offers me a chance to schedule regular postings that may not demand a lot of intense work. One feature I’m bringing back is my Friday Prompts. These are posts that contain one visual prompt and are meant to stoke a writer’s creativity and provide an opportunity to do a little freewriting as the weekend comes into full swing. I enjoy putting these together and can easily pull several months worth of prompts together in a day. Once again this keeps my blog active on a weekly basis and it also helps by providing breadcrumbs for those little Google bots crawling around my blog. More book reviews are planned and they’ll contain a writer’s perspective component.
- Understand your work habits – Good intentions don’t produce anything without action. If you’re a hobby blogger or are limited in your time to write, own it. Don’t set yourself up for failure. If you know you can’t write five reviews a week or commit to writing a chapter a day, don’t set that goal. Be realistic. Make goals that are doable and you’ll find that you’ll produce more. Set a schedule that is realistic and then follow through. Remember, “every inch is a cinch”
Get your geek on
Nobody is more techno-phobic than me. My love/hate relationship often leans more to the hate, especially when it comes to implementation, but I oh so love what it does to make my life easier. You don’t have to know how to do what you want to do. You do need to find someone who has done it or knows how and then ask for help, direction, tips, etc. They don’t have to be a tech expert; they just have to know more than you. When it comes to social media and technology, I admit I don’t do it all; but I do, periodically, take a look around, find a few things, and see how they fit. Pick what works best for you. You might be surprised.
- Set up a Facebook Fan Page – This has been my favorite. I used the fan page to gain and keep interested readers during a lengthy period when the blog was under renovation and moving from Typepad to WordPress. My FB strategy is to use it to share links and information I come across but probably won’t use for posts. That way the content is fresh and different. Along the way I post links to my blog content. I do not feed my blog into the fan page. The result is I not only have a way to communicate with readers and visitors but I also have a type of shared bookmarking going on.
- Try Pinterest – I don’t use Pinterest like most folks. It’s a great visual bookmarker for me and a perfect place for backlinks. I have albums that contain things from the web but also pin my own work. So if I write something about gardening, I pin it to my garden album. (You’ll find my dogs there.) It’s definitely helped me find new readers. But I really like the visual bookmark aspect. One album is dedicated to ideas for potential blog posts. Of course, that’s not the name of the album but it is the function.
- Take advantage of Squidoo – I love Squidoo. Squidoo has helped me so much, especially in the area of refining my knowledge on using online publishing platforms. This new knowledge has helped with my blog. Squidoo is, as is Pinterest, a great place for backlinks as well as a way to gain exposure among writers and readers who might never discover my blog. My strategy is to write complimentary pieces that I cross link. Now, I don’t do it for every post but every Squidoo page links to my blog and my blog’s FB page. Never duplicate content on Squidoo or anywhere else; but even a Squidoo page that provides links to your reviews by category, topic, author, or whatever will gain you a wider audience. It’s worth the time. (It’s also a terrific place for me to write about anything off-topic here.) Yes, there is a learning curve but the Squidoo community is so helpful. It’s amazing what you learn and who you meet.
I’ve told you some of the things that have worked for me and other writers, now tell me yours. Share the one thing you do that makes what you do, whatever the type of writing, fun, easy, or more productive.
Use the comment section below to share your thoughts and experiences. (Links below.)
Ready to read the classics? Join The Classics Club. My 5 year 50+ booklist is here: The Classics Club project.