How Honest is your Review?

I don’t especially like writing reviews. They are tricky. I don’t like to be negative or critical, it makes me feel petty. But, a review needs honesty – otherwise it isn’t worth much at all.

Amazon’s lawyers are willing to go after anyone making money from writing reviews, no matter how small that “business” may be. In earlier lawsuits, Amazon targeted businesses that were selling packages of dozens or even hundreds of fake reviews. Fiverr is a site where people offer to do small jobs for $5 or more (hence the site’s name). Judging by the nature of the accused Fiverr ads, these mini-Internet scams are about as small-time as they come.

“Unfortunately, a very small minority of sellers and manufacturers tries to gain unfair competitive advantage for their products,” write Amazon lawyers. “One such method is creating false, misleading, and inauthentic customer reviews. While small in number, these reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers… place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon’s brand.”

“Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate,” the complaint concludes.

Source: Amazon sues 1,114 reviewers, some selling their opinions for $5 | Ars Technica

Write a fake, glowing review for something. Pick something in front of you right now: coffee mug, pen, batteries, skin cream, computer mouse, vitamins, etc.

A Happy Ending Isn’t Necessarily the Best Ending

I’ve always thought that for a book to be a word-of-mouth success, the reader has to turn the last page and be motivated in that moment to tell someone, “You have to read this!” But to me, that could be just as much because it inspired cathartic, body-shaking sobs as if it left me with a feeling of joyful elation. No matter what, it has to move me in some big, exciting, unusual way—and that, in itself, makes me happy.

Source: A Happy Ending Isn’t Necessarily the Best Ending

A happy ending can also be very moving, making you cry at the end of a book. I especially like endings which leave me feeling stunned, in a good way. Endings which make me think on about the story, where it might go from there. Or, what alternative endings it could have had if this or that little thing had just gone differently.

Overall, I like an ending that haunts me. There are very few. I can’t even put it into words, though I’ve tried to do so just for myself even. A haunting ending is sort of a hopelessness, things which can’t be changed. Tragic and yet not an entirely bad ending, or sad. An ending where something is lost. That seems the best way I can describe it.

Have you ever written the ending to a story, before even planning the beginning? How would that work? Try it.

Be a Goal Digger

Goal digger – There’s something I wish I had thought of myself. I found it on an old blog post, on another site.

How can you be a better goal digger?

We make goals for ourselves and then we either meet them successfully or we don’t. Improve your success rate by actually digging in. Put work, hard work, into getting your goals but – make sure the goal is going to work for you. I don’t mean you should pick something easy or simple and give yourself loads of time. If the goal is too easy you won’t feel you really accomplished something to be happy and proud for yourself.

Are you putting in as much effort as if you were digging for gold, or a gold digger?

 

I Like to Learn but I don’t Like Being Taught

I’m very contrary. I like to learn but I don’t like being taught.

Headlines like: “# Things XYZ Can Teach You About…” make me cringe. Some place in my brain I am thinking, “well, let me teach you a little something…”. Or something like that. I am not very good with authority figures. Not that I am especially rebellious – I just don’t like someone who thinks they know more than I do. At least until they prove they really do.

A lot of people online will write as if they know what they are writing about. Making yourself an authority on the Internet is a marketing scheme – so, of course, they are all rushing to appear authoritative. In reality, they may have only had one site up, one month before they put out their first ebook explaining what a blogging guru they are.

You can’t really be an authority without some history and experience.

Even then, anyone who really considers themselves an authority has an inflated opinion of themselves.

It really is true – that saying about the more you learn, the less you know. There is always more to learn.

No doubt I have trust issues which come into the whole not liking authority thing. But, who hasn’t found a few reasons to mistrust any type of authority by the time they reach some form of adulthood? Those rose coloured glasses come with the protective bubble, make sure you stay in it!

If there is a point to this post it must be about thinking how you communicate with people.

It’s not just how you talk but how others hear and/ or understand what you say.

 

Six Steps to Starting a Creative Blog

Whether it’s a creative blog, a lifestyle blog, a business blog… most posts with this title end up disappointing me. They are all about getting a domain, setting up your site on their web host and starting WordPress. I’m never looking for those things when I click on a post about starting a blog.

I want to know what makes a creative blog tick, what keeps it going, how they find juice for new ideas and what inspires them.  So, as a long time blogger, however good I may be, I will give my own version of how to start a creative blog.

1. You need a focus.

One niche idea which you can sustain (and promote if you are hoping to get noticed). Finding the right idea is more important than anything else. Your niche is what will keep you going when you run dry, lose patience, or give up on keeping your site. It is also how you will find kindred spirits among the masses of people online.

2. Brainstorm ideas.

Before you buy a domain and set up web hosting, push yourself to come up with a list of at least 100 posts you could make about your niche topic. Don’t skimp and don’t settle for half baked post ideas. Really work your brain muscles and make a great list. Think about the type of posts you would read yourself. Take a look at other people writing the same topics, not just online. Come up with an excellent list – posts you almost want to stop and start writing right now.

3. What can you sell?

Yes, it does come down to commercialism at some point. If you are going to create a site it will help you to see it get readers and make some money. Traffic alone won’t sustain you and reader comments occur far less often these days. So you will be happier if you can find your numbers coming from another source and money is nice.

You may think you have nothing to sell. But, put on your thinking cap and see what you can do. Think digital content. If you have art, illustrations or photographs you can sell those, or create digital downloads with your art on calendars, stationery, etc. You can sell information by having a paid membership site – but you need some authority in your topic for that. You can sell patterns for craft projects. See what other people in your niche topic are selling. As a last resort consider putting together an ebook and offering that to your readers. (In my opinion, ebooks have had their day in the sun).

You can also sell a service to creative people. Like workshops and courses they can download or have sent to them each week in email. You might offer to proofread for other writers. You might offer yourself as a reviewer and social media poster for book writers. Avoid making yourself a spammer but a lot of creative people would like help with the marketing side of things.

4. Build your site.

Design your site before you start looking at themes and templates. Get an idea of what you want – then find a way to make it work. If you are new to running a site consider Blogger, it’s simpler and you can always convert a Blogger site to WordPress later. (There are a lot of good plugins to make the change over easy). If you want to use WordPress, don’t use WordPress.com. It’s ok, but it is only ok and has a few too many limitations and options you can pay extra for. If you want WordPress, get WordPress on your own domain.

A website is all about navigation. Content may be king but navigation is what will make or break a site. Keep it simple, easily found and make sure it all works. Navigation starts by having a link back to your own site as a “Home” link in the navigation bar. Categories, tags and labels are also great to help people find their way around the contents of your site. Don’t forget an “About” page to tell readers who you are, what you are writing about, what you’re selling, and what your plans are for the site.

A pretty picture is nice but not enough. Make your site look nice but keep it readable. Pick fonts which are not too light or too complicated. Pick colours which keep your site readable. You can find out a lot more about readability and standards for things like alternate tags in image files.

There is a lot of work, planning and DIY (learning) behind a site. Invest in a good guide book, and if you use it, you aren’t likely to regret it. Try to build your own site because it can be done, without paying someone else to do it for you.

5. Start talking to yourself.

Write your first post, to yourself. Give yourself goals and a to-do list as your first post. Afterwards start using an editorial calendar to keep on track with goals and ideas as they come along. Use the draft post feature to keep ideas saved as posts while you work on them.

Everything you would have written as a first post would work as your “About” page, the introduction to your site and yourself.

6. Write your second post.

Pick your favourite idea from your list of 100+ post ideas and write that post. Proofread it before you publish it. Don’t take too long to write it, don’t make it overly dramatic or particularly perfect. (You can always go back and edit it later).

Post and go look at your blog, from the reader side (not the admin/ edit side). Admire what you have accomplished and plan what you will do next.

Using Deep Captions

4. Use “deep captions”Studies have shown that image captions are consistently some of the most-read copy on a page. Try pairing a strong image with a “deep caption.”Deep captions are two to three sentences long. That’s long enough to intrigue your reader to dig into your whole article.

Source: 8 Incredibly Simple Ways to Get More People to Read Your Content – Copyblogger –

This was the most interesting point for me because I don’t use any captions. But, I do read them on other sites, especially when I’m skim reading. Most people are skim reading. I know it’s not just me any more. Ha! to those who laughed at me for admitting it back then. I was just an early adopter, yet again. Not that I promote skim reading as a good thing. There are times I’ve missed the relevant point due to skim reading. But, that is partially the fault of the writer. We should be writing for skim readers these days. We know most people are skimming, not reading your every word.

Write for the skimmers and maybe they will become readers.

Meanwhile… I’m going to think about writing captions. But, I’d have to add more images for that to work and I’ve been trying to skip the images unless they really have some relevance. As a skim reader and a web publisher, I’m really tired of images there for the sake of having an image with the post. I still think an image should be included in a post for a reason other than adding colour to your post.  Otherwise you could just post a generic image with a link to your site.

Are you a Default Font Sort of Person?

Is there a poodle font? Wouldn’t that be great for someone working as a dog groomer, or breeder of poodles?

These are the things which come into my brain while I’m waking up in the morning, this morning. Then I thought it’s a shame people have so few occasions to write anything by hand now. I don’t own a mobile phone but I’m not writing out many things, leaving notes (hand written) for anyone, etc. We send email, or text which is just email sent via a phone you spend an extra whack of dough on each month. (I don’t).

Are you still using the default font?

Anyway, then I wondered how many people with mobile phones have changed their font from the default which came with the phone. We used to show personality, mood, creativeness, with our hand writing. That’s pretty much gone, retired even from being taught in schools. So, do people pick a font to suit them or just use the same font as everyone else?

I picked the font for this site. It’s easy to read, available in web browsers (and your phones, etc). I wouldn’t say it shows my personality or creativeness, but this is a site for people to read, easily. Function had to come first.

However, on a personal site or phone… what does your font say about you?

If that gets you thinking start by seeing if you can change your font on your phone. If not, talk to your phone provider of choice and get something done about that.

poodlefont

Source: dafont- The Poodle Lover font and take a look at the Poodle Doodles font there too.

poodletail

Source: MyFonts – The Poodle Tails font.

For the Lost Art of Letter Writing

This Letter Writing Kit was made for those of us “born in the wrong century”! It is “All things Austen!!” With this kit, you or a loved one will be able to spend time relaxing and enjoying an almost ” Lost Art” of writing letters in the style of Jane Austen. Enjoy sealing your letter with a real wax seal and using all the Jane Austen themed ephemera! And while you are at it … Enjoy a cup of tea courtesy of me!

It contains:

1. Mini ceramic wax seal ( current stock: heart enclosed in a wreath).
2. 1 wax stick
3. Variety of Jane Austen Themed Stickers
4. 1 set (6) of Jane Austen Silhouette Stickers
5. 1 gorgeously illustrated ( from the beloved novel: Pride and Prejudice) blank note card/ envelope
6. 1 Unique, fill in the blank, Jane Austen Letter Writing Society Mail Tag card
7. 2 blank note cards/ with envelopes to decorate
8. 2 sheets of Victorian mailing labels
9. 2 Jane Austen quote post cards
10. 1 log book to record correspondence
11. Sample of Bakers Twine
12. Sample of craft lace or ribbon
13. 4 mini , stamped envelopes ( to hold a tea bag)
14. 1 vintage themed rubber stamp
15. An assortment of vintage die cuts ephemera
16. 2 large dimensional stickers ,includes 1 large oval Jane Austen Silhouette
17. 4 small doilies
18. 4 vintage circle letter seals
19. 1 package of “Forget -Me -not” seeds just for sentimental sake!
20. 1 roll of vintage paper or fabric tape

Source: On Sale Jane Austen letter writing kit letter by LostArtRevived

Widen Your Scope by Starting Small

Whatever your target market or writing niche… how could you make this tip work for you? Starting small takes off the pressure to be bigger than you really feel. If you’ve been feeling like a fraud, not able to take yourself and your writing seriously or give yourself the credit you should be… take it down a level. Give yourself some time to catch up with yourself. Just for a short time. Don’t get too comfortable and stay small. Build yourself a nice cushion and then begin taking bigger steps. See how far you have gotten the next time you pause to look back at where you have been.

3. Widen your world by starting small

Counterintuitive as it may seem, in the same way that it makes sense to focus your content, it also makes sense to closely focus any initial beyond-your-own-blog publishing efforts you’re inspired to make. Want to see your name in print? If your town has a local newspaper, pitch some stories to the features editor. If you’ve found a website you especially admire, contact the editor or producer to see if you might contribute content on a subject that requires your special expertise. If there’s a magazine that touches on a subject you love, study the small pieces that appear in the front of the magazine and pitch a story or two to that section’s editor. Your ultimate goal is to develop a relationship with an editor or producer that will give you a regular outlet for your pieces – and a potential springboard to a wider world beyond.

Source: Five expert tips for getting started in travel writing – Lonely Planet