Monday, March 28, 2016

What Do I Write About?

Next week at this time, we'll be well into the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Make sure you stop by here everyday for a link to a writing resource that can help you in your career. There's been lots of advice given and lessons will be learned as the participants go along. Those of you who have picked a theme and perhaps shared it in last week's Theme Reveal, likely already know what you'll write about. Even better, you probably have all your posts already scheduled.

If you don't have a theme, you might wonder what you should write about. Or you might have your posts ready for April, but when May rolls around, you'll feel like the blogging idea cupboard is bare. Maybe you were struggling for ideas to keep your blog interesting and unique even before you joined the challenge. Or you didn't join because you didn't believe you could come up with enough ideas to complete the challenge posts. Check out this post on The Secret to Writing On Your Blog Everyday.

Nearly all writers are instructed to start a blog at some point in their career. Perhaps their publisher, agent or just other writing friends tell them to do this. Most believe this is to raise your online profile, another way of saying self-promotion. But another reason to do it is for practice. Writing a blog on a regular basis, is good practice for finding your unique voice. It's great practice for writing on a schedule. It's great practice for putting words down even when they don't want to come. Lessons writers need to learn.

If you're participating in the Challenge or just following it, here are some ideas for your blog posts. There will be dozens and dozens of blogs that you find fun and interesting. Some will be instructional and some just pure entertainment. Write a post about another blog and link to it. You're going to meet other writers so maybe you can write a post and link to their work. You'll find some blogs about myths, legends, and fantastical beasts. Link to them with a blurb about how wonderful they are. You might meet people you want to have as a guest. You will find enough of interest in the blogging challenge for another month of posting fodder.

Do you ever have trouble coming up with ideas for your blog? Can you share how blogging helps your writing? Have other blogs ever inspired your own posts?

Monday, March 21, 2016

A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal

Today is the official A to Z Challenge Great Theme Reveal!

The IWSG site is once again participating in this year’s Challenge. If you’d like to join us, you can sign up HERE.

One of the most burning questions participants ask themselves every year is: "Should I have a theme?" Themes are not mandatory, but definitely fun. They let your visitors know what to expect, and help you create posts that line neatly up from A to Z. They also have an added bonus – they let you participate in this blogfest!

And our Challenge theme is… Writing Resources!

We will be listing some amazing resources for writers and authors throughout the month of April, featuring some top blogs, websites, books, quotes, and more!

The admins have been working hard to bring you the biggest and the best - Lynda Young, Susan Gourley/Kelley, L. Diane Wolfe, Chrys Fey, Joy Campbell, Michelle Wallace, Joylene Nowell Butler, and myself, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

We also have a newsletter and you can sign up HERE. Free mini eBook of the top posts here at the IWSG – Fast Five, an IWSG Gift.

So journey with us as we share resources for writers that will assist you with every step!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Why SEO & CDO are Important to a Writer

The Internet is full of websites. Millions of them. Getting noticed or found in an ocean of sites is a challenge. Even when someone searches directly for us or the content we create, we still might not be one of the first sites to appear.

There are two ways search engines look for content. Both are important and work together to increase the visibility of a website.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) focuses on keywords. When someone searches for a particular word or words, search engines pull up the best examples. Writers can take advantage of this by:

• Good metadata and meta tags. Precise and specific metadata will help people to find you. Metadata describes other data - an image’s resolution or color depth; a document’s creator and length; etc. Meta tags are keywords used to describe a page’s content. These can be added to blog posts in the form of tags or used when setting up a website to list the contents of each page.

• Popular but not competitive key words. You want to use key words in your web copy that people searching for the content will actually use. You also want to appeal to emotion as well as state facts.

• Don’t use generic words. Avoid big words and be more specific. “Automobile” will turn up a million site, but “1975 blue Chevy Corvette” will narrow the search.

• Which brings up the next point - use a string of words. People tend to search with phrases rather than a single word. This is called a long-tail keyword search. “How to write better dialogue” is better than just “Dialogue.”

• Keep an eye on the news and what’s trending. Can you capitalize on what is popular or happening in the world?

Content Discovery Optimization (CDO) focuses on content rather than keywords. It’s looking for detailed and concise information. We can improve our content by:

• Doing our research. Get the facts and the full information. Fluff only works against us.

• Don’t be afraid to go into details. A 200 word piece that casually talks about improving dialogue will be buried in a search by articles that outline all of the options, using bullet points, images, and examples.

• Use current and relevant information. Keep an eye on new developments and the news. Focus on what’s happening right now. Old news won’t draw much attention unless you can put a new twist or spin on it.

Improving our keywords and content doesn’t work just for websites and blogs, either. It can do wonders for our book’s synopsis and gaining its visibility.

Make your work and sites stand out.

Monday, March 7, 2016

How to Increase Your Twitter Following by Pat Hatt

So the cat is back to the IWSG shack. Or was that Pat the first time? I get so confused by these things that I may not even rhyme. Throw the other voices in and all kinds of things can take a spin. But what the heck, Pat can play as Twitter is on deck.

How to get a big Twitter following

At the moment I and the cat both have over 70,000 followers and the cat has more than me, figures. Was it always that way? Nope! I must have started the account at least 5 years ago and it took a good year or more to really get up in the 10-20K follower area. After that though, it was more of an autopilot thing. People saw you had a following and they followed you just because others did. Funny how that works, huh?

Getting there was mainly just grinding out the followers. Finding ones who were interesting and following them along with some of their follower list. Having fun things to say helped a lot as well. Even if you follow people who say they follow back it doesn't mean they will if all you do is advertise or say nothing at all. Plus back then I joined in those Follow Friday things, Twitter hops, and there were a few sites with a you follow me, I'll follow you feature. I used anything to get over that hump and follower limit, as every little bit helped.

Does a huge Twitter following matter?

As for you getting to know everyone, nope. I'd be lucky if I know 1000 of the people following me. But what it does do is make you more lookable. By that I mean you will get more good quality followers and people looking at what you have to say because you have so many. Sad but true in many cases, especially with some random Twitter user that finds you. People tend to decide in five seconds whether or not they will give you the time of day and with a big follower number they give you five more seconds. So in that way, it matters.

Twitter on Autopilot

Now a days I admit I just check out what is being said on my feed and things like that. With Hootsuite it is really easy to do and with Tweeterfeed I can have it set up to send out content without doing a thing. Plug in the Rss feed of your blog and other blogs and, poof, you now do nothing and all your blogs and your favorite blogs get tweeted out. Little tricks like that save a lot of time.

Now once you have bigger numbers followers come on autopilot too, as said, but there is a down side. You get a lot of the Twitter crap following you. Those guys with fake accounts and such. They follow high follower accounts in the hopes that you have an auto follow back program on your account. That way they can get real followers on their fake accounts and sell them as "real" accounts. So you have to wade through that crap to follow back the real people, at least those you want to follow back, which can be tedious.

The main thing to do is keep plugging away and building relationships. Even sending out auto blog link tweets will get you retweeted by the blog owner or by others. The more you can get retweeted the more you'll get those five seconds of being seen too. Just remember, every little bit helps.

Pat Hatt can be found in the East Coast of Canada. He hates writing these things but doesn’t mind talking in the third person. He dabbles in a little of this and a little of that, not afraid to attempt something new.

He is owned by two cats, one of whom has his own blog, It’s Rhyme Time. Yeah a rhyming cat, who knew? He would be considered a both person when it comes to cats and dogs.

He is also quite the movie and TV buff. As you can probably tell does not take himself seriously and has more stuff in his head than is needed. Thus the novels as just one more form of release. Thanks for the visit and enjoy!

Find Pat - Twitter–Pat Hatt, Twitter–Cool Cat, Blog–It’s Rhyme Time, Pat Hatt Books, Amazon–Pat Hatt and Amazon–Patrick Hatt

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Insecure Writer's Support Group and Articles Needed!

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts today are Lauren Hennessy, Lisa Buie-Collard, Lidy, Christine Rains, and Mary Aalgaard!

Many of you received the first issue of the newsletter last week! Whether you are part of the monthly IWSG blog or not, you can sign up for the next issue HERE. It’s packed with articles, writing tips, and information.

It also features an article every month by an IWSG member! Here’s the details:

Topic Ideas: your number one writing, publishing or marketing tip; a motivational pep talk or inspirational story; a snippet about something you used to be insecure about but overcame or an aha moment you had about writing/publishing.

Length: 200 words or less

How to Submit: Send a DOC attachment to Chrys Fey at ChrysFey(at)yahoo(dot)com Put “Member Article” in the Subject Line.

Have something you care to submit?