Category Archives: Blogging
On Christmas Eve, I was going through thrift stores to find a few last minute additions to Christmas gifts I made, and I stumbled upon this cute picture! Given the name of my blog, I had to pick it up. I plan on painting the frame and maybe replacing the border. We’ll see how I can dress it up!
Hope everyone is having a safe and fun holiday season!
For those of you who don’t know, I work in internet marketing, focusing a lot on search engine optimization. This means we pay a lot of attention to Google. Other search engines are useful to pay attention to, but Google sets the standard. Because of this, their algorithmic changes and website policies get a lot of publicity in the internet marketing world- and that’s exactly how they want it. Google has all the people who manage websites watching their every move, trying to appease them, and talking to their clients, colleagues, and even friends and families all about Google.
I read an article today about how there’s a lot of writing advice on the internet, and a lot of it contradicts, not because people are liars, but because everyone’s writing process is different. While I believe this makes sense, I think that a lot of the reason there is contradictory writing (or any) advice out there is because there are a lot of people writing on the internet about things they are clueless about.
With the SEO world’s recent emphasis on content marketing, companies are hiring writers to write about anything and everything with any miniscule relationship to their industry or field. That means there’s a lot of recycled garbage out there, written by people who are just re-writing other people’s advice. Since a copy of a copy is going to be a bit blurry (Thanks, Multiplicity, for that concept), you can imagine how watered down advice can ge.t
I’m not saying don’t believe writing advice from the internet. After all, I hope to offer some writing, publishing, and other advice on this blog. What I am saying is: take it with a grain of salt. Really think about whether the advice makes sense for you and look up other people’s opinions on the subject. You can also look up the advising author’s experience to see if they’re reliable, but it’s not that hard to generate a legitimate-looking online presence, and just because someone’s written 10 articles on the same topic don’t make any of them true.
For some people, this is a “duh”- don’t believe everything you read. But in this social media world, how often do you read headlines or skim an article and just take it for granted that the information is reliable?
Lately I’ve been trying to procrastinate less, be less lazy and focus on my health. These are things I’ve done in the last two weeks that have been beneficial decisions toward these goals:
I haven’t had any coffee this week. The last two weeks I had had it pretty much every day at work. I’ve been thinking I needed to stop drinking it so much, especially since I add so much cream and sugar to mine, but I didn’t really make a concious decision. I just said “I think I’ll have tea” on monday, and then tuesday did the same. Wednesday was a little more difficult since I was really groggy, but I decided it was worth it to keep the trend going.
I deleted the facebook app from my phone and downloaded the wordpress app. This way, when I’m using my phone just because I’m bored, i’m using it to read and comment on other people’s posts. Consequently, I’ve read more articles, stories, and poems this week than I had in the 2 months prior. This in turn gives me inspiration and ideas or my own posts.
I started taking lunches to work again. Recently I’ve just been snacking throughout the day, and I know that’s not good. Yay for eating on a regular basis.
I downloaded a pedometer app onto my phone so that I can better track how active I am throughout the day. Surprisingly, on days I work, where I sit in front of the computer for 10 hours, I walk more than I do on my days off. This is due to the fact that when I take breaks at work, I make it a point to walk around. At home, I never really think about getting up and moving around. Now that I’m more aware of this, I can figure out how to best combat it.
I’m pretty proud of myself for making some good choices lately. How about you? Make any good decisions or break any bad habits recently?
Balancing Work and Pleasure
Since I’m trying to start my own business, I’ve been thinking a lot about the balance between work and pleasure.
There’s this trend going around of making your work your life. Work 18 a day, have little to no social life, and never really have your mind off the job. This is almost seen as a requirement for entrepreneurs. After all, you can’t start a business if you’re not willing to put everything into it.
I can’t do that. I love the people in my life too much to blow them off for my publishing company. Right now I’m working full time and trying to start this business on the side. I realize that I will have to make schedule adjustments. I will probably have to sleep less. I will miss out on things I would otherwise do. And I think that’s worth it. I just can’t miss out on everything.
I have a great work ethic, but I am not a workaholic. When I’m working, I give it my all. But when I’m not, I don’t want to be focused on work.
I don’t think this has to hinder my entrepreneurial goals. What I have to do in order to get this project off the ground is the following:
Develop a work schedule.
I’ve tried saying that I’m going to work a certain number of hours a week (but I didn’t specify when I would complete them). This resulted in me simply not reaching my hours goals.
Then I tried specifying certain tasks I wanted to complete. This was even worse, as I would schedule way too many other things to do (social, housework, etc.), and maybe only get one or two tasks done (out of an ever-growing to-do list).
I’ve decided the only way I’m going to be able to turn this into a paying job is to treat it like one. So I’m creating a work schedule. I’ll have shifts that I will be required to work, and if something that comes up and I cannot make them, I will have to make up the time within 24 hours.
Create a work environment.
If I’m going to be “going to work”, I’m going to have to act like I’m at work. My boyfriend and I are working on making one of our extra rooms into an office. I’m going to complete my twisted willow tasks in this room and follow certain “rules” that I’ve established.
In this way, I am segmenting my personality. As an entrepreneur and boss, I am setting rules and standards. As an employee, I have to live up to them. I will be a stricter boss on myself at first than I would probably be for other employees, and stricter than my day-job bosses are to me. I will not be allowed to have my cell phone in my office, and I will not be allowed to be on personal social media.
Each week I will create a goal list, as well as a “completed tasks” list. If I don’t reach a goal, I’ll need to justify what happened, whether the goal is still important, and if it is, how and when I will reach it in the future.
Keep my work ethic.
I say I have a strong work ethic, and on some levels, that is true. I always want to put my best foot forward and deliver the best results for my employers. When I work where there are customers, I strive to give them excellent service. I always want my work to be worth the money being paid for it.
But I can’t say that this is all for “ethics” reasons. I like to impress people. I want my bosses to appreciate and like me, and I want the rewards that come with excellent performance. I want to be worthy of higher pay, higher positions, and great recommendations. I want to be worthy of these things so that I can acquire them.
So when I don’t have a boss, that work ethic is a lot harder to come by. I then have to create accountability for myself. This comes partially from the previous mentioned strategy of implementing myself as both boss and employee. It also comes from being accountable to my clients. The authors I work with rely on me to excel so that all parties can succeed. I just need to figure out the best way to make my accountability a real thing and not just a vague concept.
So those are the strategies I am implementing in order to make my business strive and still maintain an acceptable work-life balance. I love editing and marketing and everything I will be doing with my publishing company, but I don’t want it to be my entire life.
If you run a business, how do you handle work-life balance? Is your company your whole life? Do you want it to be? Share your views and strategies below!
I read a great piece on Copyblogger this week about a strategy for writing one great piece of content a week. I love this concept, because working in SEO, I see a ton of thin blog content, and working in publishing, I see a lot of authors who feel pressured into posting every day. This leads to that thin content that no one really wants to read, and it also leads to authors being overwhelmed because they’re spending all their time blogging and none of their time writing their books, poems, stories, or preferred medium.
Personally, I usually write blog posts in one sitting, maybe two. But I do like the way the author of that article breaks down the required steps for a blog post into manageable tasks. Here is my mental checklist for blog posts (which sadly, I don’t always follow, but lately I’ve been better).
Craft Headline (sometimes I do this first, but I usually analyze after I’ve written the post to see if I can come up with something better)
Add photo/graphic (such a pain sometimes, but it really does make each post so much better)
Add tags/categories (I only do one category, and 3-5 tags, as I like them to be a focused as possible)
Scan for keyword usage (not always necessary, depending on topic/point of post) (When I do do this, it includes checking the content, url, meta description, and photos for my keywords and related terms. Sometimes it won’t make sense to have them in all of these places though, so remember, you’re writing to get a message across, not just keywords).
Schedule post/social shares
After it posts, share social, try to bring people to blog.
I do try to include a question or something to get people commenting, but I don’t like to force it.
I don’t do what the author of the copyblogger article does, and email people about my post. But I do share on Facebook and Twitter, and sometimes when I find related articles, I will comment on them and mention that I have a related post. I don’t do this all the time though, and I don’t go too far out of my way, since I like to comment on people’s sites to build community, not to self-promote.
So, that is what goes into my blog posts. Do you have any other checklist items that I don’t? Or strategies for crafting exceptional content? Let us all in on your secrets!
This is the answer to yesterday’s prompt. Check out my last two posts to learn about the writing challenges I’m posting. I hope you give the prompts a try as well, and share what you write!
The point of these challenges is to improve writing skills, which starts with getting past everything that keeps you from writing. The first thing I’m going to address is the physical activities that distract us wannabe writers. Tomorrow we’ll talk about fear. The following scene is an enactment of one of my pet-characters doing what she and I do best: procrastinating.
I’m so excited that I have the house to myself for once, Sophie thought to herself on the drive home. I am going to get so much writing done! I’m going to write some short stories, and some poems, ooh! and I can work on my book idea! Maybe I’ll outline it! Or I can just write a chapter or two!
So here’s the game plan. Once I get home, I’m going to make a quick dinner so I don’t forget to eat, and then it’s straight to work. I won’t write very efficiently while I eat though, so I’ll watch a little bit of tv. just a half hour.
Sophie walked into the house feeling confident in her ability to be productive. Then one tv show while eating turned into 2 hours of some stupid sitcom. Then… My shoulders are so sore. I could really use a bath. Maybe I’ll do some reading while in the tub. Reading’s just as important as writing. I’ll write a quick poem while the water runs.
So while the tub water ran, she checked facebook and her email. Then..
This water is soooo nice. I’m just going to soak here for a while. And now my hands are all wet… I’ll just read later.
So Sophie went to bed 45 minutes after she planned to and got absolutely nothing done.
I should blog more. I should do a lot of things more. I did actually write down a bit of a story the other day, but it was mostly autobiographical and not of stuff that I wanted out on the great big internet. But I am reading more, and with that comes the inspiration to write more.
You’d think because I’m not writing at work very often, I’d write more at home. But of course that procrastination thing that rules my life gets in the way.
Oh well, lots of exciting stuff going on, and all of it pretty boring.
But I’m going to a Sarah Bareilles concert on Sunday, with One Republic and Serena Rider! I’m super excited!
Tomorrow I’ll write you a poem, but for now, I leave you with the words of One Republic:
Everything that drowns me makes me want to fly.
So when I remember that I have a blog and goals to post on it regularly, I pay pretty close attention to the stats. Maybe staring at the numbers of people viewing my blog make me feel like I am working on it. I don’t know why, but I do like looking at the stats, figuring out if I can narrow down how many of my visitors were people I know, and the like. I also pay attention to the search strings that people find me through (I do work in SEO after all), and people have found my blog using some interesting terms. I remember a couple special ones: “poetry with the word airhead in it”, “short airhead poem”, the turkish phrase for “real phoenix” (I do have a Phoenix poem), “I don’t mind being an airhead” and more.
And then of course there’s that search term blog owners love to see “unknown search terms” or “other search terms” both of which usually show up together and glare at you saying “nyah nyah nyah, I’m not telling!”
Recently I finally sat down and played with Google Webmaster tools, hoping I could see a few more of the search terms. What’s cool is that it shows the search terms see your site as an option for, not just the ones that they used to get there. So you can see which term you’re ranking for and which ones cause people to actually click through to your site. There were some interesting terms that I showed up for. The most interesting to me were ones that involved parts of my site’s name. Here are a few that I looked up to see what they were: Read the rest of this entry