Why Blogging Works

{flickr photo}

I moan and groan about blogging every once in awhile. Keeping up with your posts while other higher priority projects build up feels harder at times than Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

But I know that doing so is worth it.

While every writer has different reasons why they blog or don’t blog, I’ve found the benefits to more than outweigh the costs.

For example, some bloggers do it for the money. Others do it to draw potential clients/customers to their website. Some find the greatest benefit is the interaction they have with their readers.

When I created this blog and the inspiring one, I had just a few goals in mind. I knew I wasn’t in it for the direct monetary costs or to make it my primary source of income.

My main goals were to use it as a portfolio for my writing and to create two separate niches that I wanted to build in my repertoire. And it worked!

The Inspiring Bee blog helped me to create a niche in an area that I had a passion for. After blogging there for a few months, I attracted Blog Talk Radio show host Cory Clay who interviewed me on being an inspiring writer. And this was way before my column, “Inspiration Zone” for The Writer magazine and my column, “Happy Haven” for Beliefnet Health.

To me, it was the birth of the blog that led me in that direction.

I think if you want to attract new writing clients in a field you don’t have significant experience in, create your own niche. Writing a blog in that area will make you the expert via time and experience.

How has blogging helped or not helped your writing career?

*What a Feeling!

{Courtesy of Pinterest. Originally from otredades.tumblr.com.}

Mediums That Move Me

Last night I was bawling harder than I had been in a long time. Like a traffic accident, I was both glued to the TV screen and fighting to turn away. Indecisive about what I should do next, I finally decided to whip out my nifty remote control and put a pause on it instead.

I was watching one of my favorite, but recently cancelled shows Little People, Big World. When I saw Matt Roloff cry in response to his eldest son leaving the coop, I lost it. The entire hour was a crying fest, one heartbreaking moment after another.

It’s not the first time that I’ve cried while watching TV. Oprah (miss her dearly) used to do it to me almost every weekday. My poor husband tissue ready, has gotten used to it by now.

But it’s definitely not the only medium that moves me. Books do it too. I felt that way when reading Lisa Genova’s Still Alice. Psychologically gripping and yet beautifully heartbreaking, it was a fiction story told in realistic detail of what it’s like having Alzheimer’s disease. I couldn’t put it down.

Emotion + Writing = Good Writing?

All this emo-talk got me thinking about good writing. Good writing whether it’s a novel, a non-fiction book, a copywriting pieces moves you. It touches you in unexpected ways. It’s what I love best about the written word. It’s ability to leap from the page and touch you.

One of my first memories of its power was reading Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was an old copy of my cousin’s from his cousin. Truthfully, I ended up stealing borrowing it (only to return it twenty years later) because I truly couldn’t part with it. At night, I would bring a piece of chocolate to my room, careful to not let my smudged fingers ruin the page, and take a bite as I read about the chocolate factory. With mouth drooling and senses heightened, I felt like I was a part of the story.

A Tip for Moving Readers (Hopefully to the nearest bookstore.)

That’s how you should write your next piece, post, poem, article, novel. Find a way to be that reader, that character, and write in their perspective. Be the person who’s looking for an affordable way to live luxuriously. Think about her work day. Think about what would make her life easier. Use your words as if they were its own character, moving others, changing their lives in small ways.

That’s what I love most about the written word. Its potential to make substantial changes in a person’s life. As a writer, that’s what we should be conscious of and as a paid writer that’s what we need to take advantage of.

Have you read anything that’s moved you recently? I’m always on the hunt for a good book!

*Oh and in case you’re wondering about the title, it’s an ode to a song I loved in the 80’s. It actually has multiple meanings for me. My cousin and I were dancing to this song when she accidentally kicked me in the face. Unforgettable moment to say the least!

The Key to Long Lasting Online Relationships? Adding Your Personal Touch

{flickr photo by: rent-a-moose}

Last week, I wrote two blog posts for the site I work for and it surprisingly did well. My article on 10 Tips for Healthy Living received 105 tweets and 88 Facebook likes. I also wrote a guest post for business writer Cathy Miller that got 21 comments. I wrote 5 Steps to Transform Your Life for Feelgooder.com, a Darren Rowse creation and it too received a lot of attention. I’ve been thinking about these articles and the ones I see online and I figured something out in the process. Here’s the secret I’ve discovered to permanent, long-lasting relationships.

Human beings desire connection.

Lots of blogs get popular quick because they offer relevant, important information.

But blogs that have staying power are the ones that offer something else.

Getting Over a Thousand Comments on Their Blog

Take Young House Love, for example. They’ve been blogging since 2007 and have rounded up quite a following. And I think I know why. In addition to providing informative posts on DIY and home design, they also have a fun, unique writing style with a personal touch. Their recent posts garnered 1862 comments!! Wowza! And the topic? Their daughter’s birth story.

A lot of my guest posts and articles are written with that same idea in mind-the ability to transform your words into a voice of connection.

When I interview an expert and I get that gut in-your-stomach kind of feeling, I know that this is going to move people. I have an instinctual feeling that this could be influential. And it doesn’t matter if I’m talking about caring for rabbits or yourself. It’s that universal feeling that we all want to be connected. Especially on the internet.

How to Keep Your Followers Interested

  • For business owners. Refocus your energies on your clients and customers. Forget about making the sale for now. Think about how you can really connect with people, not $. Then reach out to them through your blog, articles and Facebook updates. Today, I was listening to a free webinar by Authentic Promoter Molly Gordon. She was talking about focusing on a single client versus thousands. If you can focus on how your words and business impacts one person, you will be a lot more successful. Why? Because the more you focus on a single person, the more authentic and personal you will be and the more connection you will likely have. And more connection = longer, lasting relationships. And lasting relationships = more business.
  • For writers. As someone who manages social media for a living, I know that questions and comments that inspire conversation are much more popular than ones that are void of emotions. Social media is the way people are attempting to connect and interact. And this applies to anything you write. I have wasted spent 9 months rewriting an essay. Then, I took a class and realized why I was so stuck. I was writing around my subject. Because of the fear of letting it all hang out, I was taking a personal, important time in my life and regurgitating it without the good, revealing stuff.

Writers if you have a story, have the courage to write it. Give it the attention and emotion it deserves. If you can find a way to transform your feelings and thoughts through words, you will find not only more business, but more satisfying meaningful ones too.

In the end, it’s not about making the most money. {Well at least it’s not for me.} It’s about using what I’m good at as a tool to create a meaningful career and life. And that’s only possible when you add your personal touch to everything you do.

Controversy on the Web

{flickr photo by wstera2}

I’ve been hiding out on different blogs reading the latest thoughts and trends. Some I agreed with. Others made me want to bury my head in a hole and cry. I thought I’d grab a few so we can discuss them here. I’ll call it our own little writers “View.” Let’s begin shall we?

Practical or Perfectionism?

On Copyblogger, Jon Morrow posted 5 Crippling Beliefs that Keep Writers Penniless and Mired in Mediocrity. The article itself was compelling with lots of points about how our thinking can sabotage success. But interestingly enough, the more than 100 comments were almost, if not more engaging than the post itself.

In reply to one of his commenters, Morrow said that he spends 10 hours on each post. That’s right, TEN hours! He said it was more about being pragmatic than perfectionistic.

I have to say that this specific comment really got to me:

“[P]ersonally, I don’t think most writers demand enough of themselves. Especially bloggers. They spend 30 min. on a blog post, and then they wonder why they aren’t getting results.”

Talk about feeling like an underachiever. On one hand, I get it. Morrow’s posts rock. They are compelling, relevant, wonderfully pleasant to read. But 10 hours!! Should I quit my day job and write for 10 hours per post? I guess if I was going to do it as my one and only job.

What do you guys think?

Are there any 10 hour bloggers out there? Do you think that writing 10 hours a day is feasible, practical or too perfectionistic?

The Lone Tree

Otherwise known as the blog with no comments. Then there’s Annabel Candy. Blogging pal Annabel Candy of Successful Blogging wrote a post called Are Your Blogging Comments Good, Bad or Ugly?. In it she says this:

Even if your writing is fabulous, you’re a global superstar and the paparazzi hound you on a daily basis, a blog with no comments makes you look like a loser.”

Ack! First an underachiever. Now a loser.

I know where Annabel’s coming from. In fact, I’ve interviewed her and e-book reviewed her in the past.

She’s smart, sweet and successful.

So maybe she has a point there. No matter how hard that pill is to swallow.

What do you think?

Do you agree? Are your posts filled with commenters or is it as lonely as a desert?

Yes Please and No Thank Yous

Number 3 comes from writer Natalia Sylvester. In a post called How Do You Keep Twitter from Hindering Your Writing, Natalia writes about the time we spend idling away on social media. In a reply to one of her commenters she said it was okay to forgo a RT thank you, but instead to focus on formulating quality conversations on Twitter.

I have to agree on this one. But I can’t get myself to stop saying, “Thank you!” I’ll blame my people-pleasing, charm school graduate ways.

But how about you?

Do you find RT thank yous unnecessary?

Would love to hear your views.

And please comment so I don’t feel like a loser on this post.

Thanks!

P.S. I spent a lot A LOT of time on this one. Well maybe not 10 hours, but enough. I promise.

The 5 Characteristics of Successful Bloggers

Call me a snoop or a blogger stalker, but I’ve been known to spy on a few blogs and bloggers to see what they are up to now and again. My curiosity was piqued when I started to notice that some had gained an increasing amount of attention in the blogosphere. Surprisingly, it’s not necessarily great design or title that did it. Instead they all had something special, an “it” factor, if you will, that raised their popularity.

Here are five common characteristics I noticed of successful bloggers:

  1. They were helpful. From design bloggers to freelance writers, bloggers who did their best to anticipate problems and offers solutions to their readers scored BIG with readers.
  2. They were consistent. Bloggers who posted regularly, not necessarily the most frequently, were popular. Why? People can expect when they’ll show up. I know I’m guilty of this one and will definitely try to stick to a more consistent schedule.
  3. They were clear and focused. This blogger talked about it and so did she. Sometimes finding your focus takes time. I think after your thousandth blog or maybe less, you’ll realize what you really care to write about and what you feel less passionate about. The closer you get to your niche or the purpose of your blog, the closer you will get to finding followers who are interested in what you have to say.
  4. They created goals. Maybe you want your blog to divert attention to your business. Maybe you want to try to make a living as a blogger. Maybe your one goal is to increase your subscribers to 1,000. Whatever vision you have for your blog, write it down, say it aloud, then do whatever it takes to get there. That’s how this blogger reached her goals!
  5. They were persistent. Do me a favor. The next time you visit your favorite blog, look at when they started blogging. I’ve been noticing a trend lately, that all of my favorite bloggers have blogged for at least three years if not more. If you’re just starting, have patience, keeping going. Blog until you find your voice, your purpose and your passion and you will eventually find what you’re looking for!

Did I miss one or two or three? What characteristics do you notice about your favorite bloggers?

Tips for Bloggers: Three Painless Ways to Choose Photos for Your Blog Posts

{photo by: burnt out Impurities}

I have to thank Laura Spencer aka @TXWriter of Freelance Folder and Natalia Sylvester aka @InkyClean for their Twitter conversation last week. It inspired me to put together this post.

Do You Despise Looking for the Right Photo for Your Blog Posts?

While I didn’t save the actual conversation, I can tell you the basics. We were chatting about the difficulty of choosing photos for blog posts. In this situation, I was definitely the minority since I L-O-V-E perusing sites like Flickr for just the right picture to match my posts.

But I wanted to know if I really was the only one so I took the conversation to Facebook and LinkedIn.

LinkedIn proved to be the champ! I learned a lot from the members there and wanted to pass on a few valuable tips that I got.

Three Tips to Help You Find Photos for Your Blog (more…)