Tag Archives: networking

Blogging: Why It Makes Me Smile

9 Mar

It is rarely a day passes when we don’t get to read posts from bloggers discussing their facts and figures behind their blogs.

WordPress have now launched another little gadget that helps us to analyse who is reading our posts, through the new ‘Views by Country’. You can find the details on your stats page.

Basically, this little gadget tells you where in the world your readers are. I am delighted to announce, my blog is global. Sure, the majority of my readers are in the UK and USA, as expected, but we can also count countries such as Chile, Estonia, Jordan and the Philipines.

How mad is that?

Sure, I imagine that these stats do not disallow for those amazing spammers so I am slightly dubious, but OMG (yeah I did just use that) my little map is super colourful. I am just chuffed – how could you not be?

But it isn’t just the new little gadget that makes me happy, just stats in general. watching the numbers increase on almost a daily basis. I mean that is just amazing in itself. If ever you are feeling slightly doubtful about why you blog, and then you have a day where your blog has beaten your last busiest day it’s like wow, maybe I should keep this up.

Nothing makes your smile broader than your number of followers. People who have said, ‘hey, I will pop by again’. I have been blogging for about 18 months, well on this blog anyway, and I now have 390 followers. Less than many, but more than I ever anticipated.

What makes me even prouder about this figure is that I have done it on my own. As in, I have never been freshly pressed – I know many people have said they have had over a 1,000 new followers on one post (one wonders how long they stick around for). I have never won an award from another blogger (but I have had mentions on other blogs) and I never spam (not sure that it is very effective).

Talking of spam, I love checking my spam messages, they are just so…random. and I know we all get them, and some are better than others, but even just the five pure gibberish ones that appeared today are worthy of a little twitch of the mouth.

Search engine terms are a highlight. Do you remember that interview I did with Stuart Heritage of the Guardian? Well I get some crackers terms for that content, most assuming the man is gay. I can assure you, he is not.

The best search engine terms however are when they have searched for your name, whether that be your name or the blog name or your latest project. Someone actually wanted YOU, just YOU and no one else.

The best part of blogging though, and without sounding cheesy, is the friends you make. Friends is probably the wrong word, but hey, I know what I mean. I have blogging buddies that have been part of my life since day one, and others, that I met just last week, and I eagerly await their latest post. there are those that take the time to read your entire back catalogue, those that just like everything (just a nod that says ‘hey, I hear ya’), and those that take the time to write well-considered comments. Some come, some go, many return. all of us linked, all of us actually giving a damn.

I smile every time I have a little number in the box, when someone bothers to respond to my comment, when I realise we all have our own misgivings for why we do this, when I discover a like-minded person.

Thank you.

You don’t want to miss this…well you might.

29 Oct

Do you ever read a post and think ‘What the….?’

This happened to me this week. I was reading Christo the Nomads post on chairs, yes that’s right, the uncomfortableness that is the workplace chair.

By the time I had finished reading, I was overwhelmed by the cleverness of the writing, or more to the point, the ability to write about the everyday, in a way that was not everyday at all. Seriously, if you realised you were reading about a chair, would you continue?

Anyway, it got me thinking. My chair is slightly amazing. It is very much an ordinary chair, in an ordinary room. ordinary people sit on it, and more often than not, watch ordinary TV and occasionally eat ordinary food. (I say occasionally eat, that is a lie, all the time we eat sat on the chair, but we aren’t supposed to admit to this).

It is an ordinary colour, black. It isn’t feather filled, just ordinary foam….thats all to it really.

So what makes it amazing? Well I spent most of my uni time sat on this chair writing assignments. Most of my current WIP (yeah OK, what is supposed to be the current WIP) has been created on this chair, and, A Cuppa has seen most of its progress happen right on this chair.

So?

So the most amazing thing, I sot on my chair every night and it does something most would moan about, and it isn’t that great I can tell you, but worthy of discussion, IT EATS TIME!

Seriously, I lie not. I sit down around 8pm and then BAM, its 10 o’clock and I really should be thinking about bed sometime soon.

Now I know if I sit on the chair across the room with the slight bounce I would be aware of every minute passing. Does this happen to you, do you have a chair that just makes time disappear?

Talking of time eaters, Alexis wrote this post on social media, and how we get easily distracted. It is definitely a well-worn discussion, but Alexis shared some of her writers friends tactics to avoid the pitfalls of social medias consumption of time.

One of the commenters, Anthony Lee Collins, made a suggestion that having a friend change a password until a certain deadline had passed maybe the way forward. Seriously though, could you do this? As much as I like the idea, I doubt I could very much.

Now I have had friends that have closed accounts such as FB and managed to refrain for several months at a time, but they always return…and they aren’t writers. I would be too worried I would miss something vital, a competition, a friends new release, but would anyone else notice, or even care?

Anyway, just to push you towards another post I want you to read check out Christos post on Roys of Wroxham. I am sure I missed the irony of the post but it brought back so many memories….enjoy.

Confessions Of A Lazy Blogger

19 Oct

OK so this image is stolen but if you click it you will be taken to the original site - I'm not all bad!

 

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will be aware that my posts are pretty random. Not just the frequency of posting, but the length, pace, and most importantly the topics I discuss.

Now if you are a new reader, in the last few weeks or so, you may disagree. This blog is about A Cuppa and An Armchair with a rough opinion of this weeks reading thrown in every friday…

Ha ha ha, how I have lulled you into a false sense of security.

You see, lets just rewind 7/8 months, and this blog was about self-publishing – over a year ago it was writing tips. And in-between? Well it has been a variety of topics that have taken my fancy.

So why am I lazy?

It is not just about what you see on the page, it’s about interaction, planning…thinking outside the box.

Lets start with that weekly reading. I never write my opinions when I finish the book. I tend to save them up and then write a bulk load. The current ones you receive each friday are from my pile of ‘reviews’ (and I do use that term oh so lightly) that I wrote about seven weeks ago. I think I have enough done to last until Christmas. As for books that I have read since, they are all piled next to bed waiting for me to have the ‘oomph’ to sit down for a mega writing section.

I’m not lazy in that I haven’t got this sections content, just that if I pulled my finger out and wrote about each book as soon as I had read the last page, a) it would be written oh so much better b) I wouldn’t have that great big stack of books and c) I might disregard those books that don’t really call for a mention.

Important MEGA CHEAT for seeing your daily stats rise. Each time I post a review and link back, I notice how much traffic the author’s name and book title bring to my site. I am cheating my figures. I am a happy daily counter, not the monthlies, or the returnees. Oops!

But I do have subscribers..

I know each of my subscribers. I say I know, I know what they are writing about, if they are writing, and many of them I engage with happily. I love knowing that they are by my side, the frequency with which they comment, the quick emails/tweets to check all is ok if the blog has gone quiet.

But…I am not very good at this. Oh I do for some, I notice they are missing before they have even had chance to themselves, but others… (I am pulling that eek face!) It’s not that I don’t care, I am the same in my ‘real’ life. (That would be the life that makes me a lazy blogger) Just to give an example about how bad I am, a friend of mine had an op on Monday and I still haven’t called or msg to see if all is OK. I know, it doesn’t get much worse than that!

But how do I get those subscribers, where are my readers coming from?

This is the point where I want to ‘ROFL’ Seriously. I should be saying, ‘On a daily basis I will read freshly pressed and other great blog finding sites and find bloggers that interest me, that I find their content engaging, and I strike up conversations with them. I enjoy regular interaction and if this is not reciprocated, this is just fine. I regularly join in group discussions on Twitter, and I have a list of fB pages that I follow. I share the great content that I find and hope that everyone else finds it as interesting as I do. I see myself as a provider of information…..’

Are you yawning too?

I sign up to problogger and receive regular emails about how to improve your blogging, how to get the most out of it…The best advice I have seen to date, is do what feels write for you. Yes you have to consider your audience, but if it doesn’t work for you, it wont work fo them.

Yay!

Don’t get me wrong, this does not give me license to not engage with other blogs but it does take the pressure off somewhat. I read my subscribers blogs (and others I subscribed to but is not reciprocated – which I am FINE with) and at this time, this is enough…

No, who am I kidding?

My point is my workload, as it would seem everyone elses workload, at this point is so great, we haven’t got the time, let alone the energy to keep up with the rules and regulations of being a successful blogger. Lets face it, even if we did, isnt blogging a bit about breaking the rules? I have regulations I have to adhere to at work, I don’t want them when I am supposedly doing something for leisure.

Does this make me lazy?

Possibly not. Let’s add a few more naughty bits and then we shall decide…

* Images – I don’t always use them and when I do you can guarantee I have used google images

* Spell check – OK I do use this but I tend to ignore passive language because this is something I am not sure I fully understand (langauge specialist please tell!)

* Leaving your work to breathe – Doing what? I have written a post I want it published NOW. It is part of the fun. Writing in advance and allowing them time to mature just doesn’t work for me. When it comes to blogging, I am after instant gratification….oh I am such a kid!

* Creating a blogging schedule – Urgh! As above!

There is one other really bad thing I do when all else fails…I write a post like this!

On a positive I have one thing I am really proud of. 95% of the time I respond to my comments with a ‘real’ reply. Not just a ‘thanks for commenting’. Urgh, when I get that I feel like I have been slapped in the face, like a ‘oh I am far too busy to deal with you but the rules say to keep my billions and trillions of fans happy I should…’

I guess I have never had too many to respond to for my comments to mean anything more than, ‘oh my goodness, they wanted to comment, they must have liked it yay!’

So what about you? Have you anything that you do/or don’t that breaks the rules? Maybe you thought something wasn’t worth doing and then once you implemented it you just couldn’t understand why you hadn’t done it sooner?

Share your thoughts. Tell your tales. Join the conversation.

Self – promotion. Are we allowed to sleep?

10 Oct

Today is the final submission day for a Cuppa and An Armchair. I am sure you are all aware of this as many of you have already sent me your shorts.

So far this project has been a real learning experience. You would think, having done a book before it wouldn’t be anything new, but you would be very wrong.

A Simple Guide was a massive flop. One simple reason, I didn’t follow my advice. That book focused on how to do it all, but I wrote it without having experienced it, I had just completed months of research. Now, I will say, my learning was very thorough. I have applied everything I learnt during those months of research, and the bits I have picked up on since, to promoting the submission process of A Cuppa and An Armchair.

What I suspected, but didn’t really understand, was the hard work that promotion involved. I have spent on average two hours every evening trying to get the word out for the project. I have hopped online at every given opportunity throughout the day also. This would have been easier for FB status update and tweets had my Blackberry lasted a bit longer. Since being dropped, I think it had survived longer than could be reasonably expected. All the same…

So what is this promotion?

Well obviously there has been this blog. I have been very wary about just writing project related posts but I am not convinced I have provided enough variation. My main consideration was about not wanting to annoy my regular readers. There is something known as too much promotion. Personally it drives me mad when I am reading other writers blogs and it is all about their current WIP. Don’t get me wrong, this is fine if that is all your blog has ever been. What I’m saying is I don’t want my blog to be about one thing only. That is not where I am at the moment and I don’t want to lose readers because they may think I am.

Sticking with the blog I have tried to spend time reading new blogs, commenting, trying to spread the word. I haven’t been as successful as I would have liked, mainly because I haven’t done it anywhere near enough. promotion scares me, I don’t want to be a spammer…

On Twitter I have become a spammer lol! This was most obvious the day I discovered the problem with the email. Ahem, the day Charlotte told me about the problem. I just had to get the message out there. The only way I could do this was to keep posting the same thing over and to ask for others to retweet. Other than that I sent DMs to many tweeters, and attempted to join in with the conversations. Twitter is definitely my weak point, I’m not sure I fully understand it. Either way I gave it a good go and I am pleased with my progress.

Now Facebook i dreaded. How many times have you been told that Facebook is not the place to promote? Well, sure, the amount of effort I put in, hunting down writers, being inventive with updates and such, may not have been reflected in the ‘likes’, however, we have still managed to get up to 61 likes as of this evening. Bearing in mind A Simple Guide sits at 57, I am certainly not complaining. Now I know many writers have a higher following on Facebook, but I have been at this for a little over a month. We haven’t even put the book together. If the page grows at this rate, by the time the book is released, I shall be ecstatic.

I have dabbled at Google+, thought about LinkedIn and many others, but I decided to concentrate on my three main areas. I am glad I made this decision. I think I would have spread myself too thin otherwise.

So I guess I should get cracking with organising the shorts for the panel to read, plus a little last-minute tweeting and FB updating. I am hoping to take a week off from here, just to re group, and consider the next stages in full before we jump straight in. After all, not only have we had the problem with the email, the submission date has got somewhat muddled also, whoops! It will never run smoothly when you are doing all the running, but I guess a few rocks keep you on your toes. I am just very grateful that I have my Simple Guide knowledge to help steer me through this process.

As always big thank you to all of you who have shown your support, submitted, or just wished us luck.

You guys are amazing!

6 Oct

A quick reminder to you all that the submission deadline for A Cuppa and An Armchair is Monday. Pop by here for more details.

Shout outs

Janece – Follow the link to the post that brought tears to my eyes.

Scribbla – The shout out with such an inspirational picture

Fifalde – A non-blogger who took the time to spread the word on the Ravelry sites.

Thank you for taking the time to share the word about A Cuppa and An Armchair. Your support amazes me.

Thank you also to those of you who are busy writing or working on illustrations. There is no book without you, you are the soul of the project. I cannot express how much this means.

 

When an Opportunity comes Knocking

29 Sep

Sometimes opportunities come knocking on your door when you least expect it. This is what has happened to me of late and I wanted to share with you what I am up to.

Now don’t get excited, its nothing more than many of you are probably doing, but for me this is all new and exciting and I am throughly enjoying myself.

Obviously I have the #cuppa project happening. This was put to me through a friend I had been to University with. It was one of those things that was mentioned briefly, and then went quiet for a few weeks, and then bam, next thing you know it’s happening. It is great fun, and great to have so many of you supporting us.

As many of you will be aware, I have also been reading through Gav’s work for his novel ‘Reset’. I am still following this up, and have even started setting Gav deadlines for getting the next chapters to me. Why? Well, I want to read the ending obviously! But seriously, this has been a fantastic experience for me. It has opened up another world to me. I will point out the occasional grammatical error, but I am working more on the flow of the story, the characterisation, hunting out the flaws. It has even got to the point now with Gavs work that I don’t even tell him the lines that are exceptional. I don’t need to. My role has been established, and it is something that is working for both of us.

I shall be starting a new book project for a local company that visit schools. They show a variety of reptiles to the kids. As a teaching tool they use stories to give an insight into the animals natural habitat, and I have been asked to get these stories available as a ‘real book’. This is another opportunity for me to continue gaining experience and confidence.

Finally, the last thing I am doing related to the writing world…well it would seem I am handing out advice to writers. Not just on self-publishing, but they are asking me to read their work, just snippets at times, but they want my feedback. There is still the element of publishing information, but mostly it is looking at the best way of preparing to get started in either self-publishing or traditional publishing. Where do you start? Who to trust?

Uh….

I reply as honestly as I can, and to date, I don’t believe I have offended anyone. Likewise though, if I have, I never actually asked, or promoted myself outright as a go to person. Namely because I don’t have the self confidence to say, ‘I know about this…’ So if they haven’t heard what they wanted to hear….nah forget that, if you didn’t like what I said, get used to it, that’s the industry.

I may waiver at times on my knowledge, I may scream self-doubt, but I do know it, I know more than I often care to admit. I have not asked to be paid for any work at this time, and it is unlikely that unless I start being asked to the point I can’t escape my computer, that I will. You see, I believe we should all be there to support one another, through good and bad, and I know without support I wouldn’t have the knowledge I have now.

So, if you have anything you want advice on, want me to read through your work, or even would like me to host your guest post, then please do contact me.

I’m off to get cracking on another story that has been sent my way…

 

Spam and self promotion – the missing link.

20 Sep

Now I am fully aware that spam is a frequent topic of conversation on blogs. Indeed, even on Twitter, the conversation comes up about what is received via DM.

I have often sat reading these thoughts wondering what did it matter, what harm does it do? After all, DM messages on Twitter are private, as for the blog, Akismet does a pretty good job – in fact, I have only ever had one spam comment break through the site.

My thoughts are still the same.

But, and I find this quite intriguing, in the space of five hours today I received 17 spam comments. Seventeen! I mean seriously, why do these people persist?

The message is generally unrelated, so you wouldn’t follow the link, and as for the spelling…

I am guessing as a whole my attitude is quite relaxed because I don’t have a mass following, I don’t post my URL here there and everywhere, and therefore, my traffic is relatively low. To know someone has popped by even if it is an automated computer generating utter drivel still pleases me. Small victories and all.

The low traffic is a large problem however, and it is something I need to work on. Obviously now I am back up and posting my traffic naturally increases, and the subscribers increase.I am once again using twitter, but it’s really not me. I know what you have to do, but I guess it just doesn’t sit right for me. I can’t really explain it. I guess my main issue is time management. At best of an evening I can commit two hours to the computer. I say at best, once the kids are in bed and I have run around I have two hours left before I head to bed. Hubby doesn’t mind, more often than not he is blogging also, but for both of us there is the guilt.

But lets say I do spend two hours an evening online. Check the blog, write a post, check FB, send some tweets, consider logging onto Google +…my two hours are pretty used up. Obviously in that I am reading blogs and commenting. I never quite manage to indulge with real interaction through twitter. A lot of this has to do with organisational skills, creating my lists etc.

Twitter is basically a no go for me I think is what I am saying.

So I now have two pages on Facebook as well. Lets be honest, the A Simple Guide to Self Publishing page has never been managed properly. Many authors do this so well, but quite frankly, I am rubbish. We have just set up the page for A Cuppa and an Armchair. As there are two admins on this the onus isn’t on me, but I already feel the pressure. How do I get the followers? how can I get the interaction? How do I get people to understand you like the page not the link? (or maybe they know…) More importantly with this particular site, how do I get people who don’t know me, or the charity, to give either their writing or their time?

So all in all, spam is not really a worry of mine. I just find it a little intriguing. Maybe it is my attitude towards spam, why bother, everyone knows it’s a scam attitude transfers to my promotional side (though mine isn’t a scam, let’s make that clear now).

Anyway, any suggestions on how to find a more positive approach to promotion would be greatly received. (And yes, this is coming from the author a simple guide to self publishing. I know I know, I guess I am after a little more personal advice, what you did/are doing, what definitely didn’t work).

If you have a short story that you would like to submit to A Cuppa and an Armchair, please email chat@elenaransley.com.