Make Widgets Cater to Bloggers

A widget should provide something I want. Why would I want to give these buttons from Bloglovin space on my blog? They serve no purpose for me. I can already use WordPress functions to get email sign ups and followers (and keep the information on my own database). Unless I have a huge following on Bloglovin, I don’t need to show those numbers.

This widget really only advertisers Bloglovin. That’s fine but… my space is worth something to me. I like Bloglovin but I don’t like them enough to give them free advertising on my site.

If you design a widget you want bloggers to add to their sites – think about it from their perspective. What can you offer them? Why would they want to post your widget? What can your widget do with will give value to the blog/ blogger over time? (Why should they keep your widget?)

bloglovin widgets

Source: Widgets – Bloglovin

A 5-Step Plan to Become Seriously Influential Online

This post about building authority online is good for beginning bloggers but also those who have burnt out and want to try again. Do try again. Don’t expect instant success.

Step 1: Narrow your focus.

Step 2: Stop reading just blog posts.

Step 3: Write authoritative articles.

  • Answer specific questions.
  • Quote other authorities in your industry.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a contrarian view.
  • Use stats and detailed case studies to add substance.
  • Repeat your ideas.

Step 4: Build an Audience.

Step 5: Build a Fan Club.

Real authorities solve their audience’s problems. Consistently. Repeatedly.

That’s why people listen to them. And spread their ideas.

via –No Authority Yet? Here’s a 5-Step Plan to Become Seriously Influential Online – Enchanting Marketing.

If you start with the first three steps you’re on the right track. Work on building an audience and fans once you have a body of work to present to them. It’s not true that once you build it they will come. You do have to reach out there and let people know you are there. Too much information overload with repetitive and sub-standard content has created a lot of stuff no one wants to read. So, you do need to shine your own light to help people find you and show them you actually have something worth the visit to your site.

Narrowing your focus or deciding on a niche is not as easy as it seems. I have so much I want to find out more about and then so much to share once I do get information and resources. I end up being all over the place when it comes to my niche and focus. There is also the problem of spreading yourself too thin and burning out. So, getting and keeping a focus early on is good for your site, your authority and yourself. It gives you authority and keeps it all sustainable.

Reading just blog posts for our information and sources for interviews does limit us. Don’t forget there is a lot you can do offline, contact local people directly, read books from before the Internet and find information which hasn’t made it out of print books yet. Build a history of information with various sources – that is the area to grow and evolve and find contacts in which will also give you knowledge to share.

Writing articles we tend to fall into standard post formats and get comfortable there. Evolve with post style to have variety in your niche. Read about other post formats and when you read other blogs look at what they do and think about your own reactions to it. What kind of posts work best for you as a reader in your niche? Use this research about post style when you write your own blog.

What is a (#) Hashtag?

Thanks to the member-driven online information site Twitter, the lowly “pound” or “number” symbol “#” has been elevated to a new role. The hash mark, or pound symbol, (#) is now known by social media users as a “hashtag” or “hash tag”. Posts that have the same keywords prefixed with the # symbol are grouped together in user searches, bringing a level of order to the frenzied chaotic world of Twitter.

Twitter user Chris Messina (@chrismessina) first Tweeted with a hashtag symbol # in August 2007, as a way to define groups on the social media site. The use of the pound symbol to categorize messages and define conversations spread quickly throughout the Twitter community, and is now an integral part of this fast-paced live information network.

via What is a (#) Hashtag? | Hashtags.org.

I can’t resist adding some Internet history along with the information about hashtags.

Hashtags can be used or organize information, create an archive or directory for a group of people. But, I think hashtags are just fun. Stick together a phrase (shortened for space) and add it as a sub-commentary to your post.

Don’t take hashtags too seriously.

Humans TXT: We Are People, Not Machines.

humanstxt

We are always saying that, but the only file we generate is one full of additional information for the searchbots: robots.txt. Then why not doing one for ourselves?

via – Humans TXT: We Are People, Not Machines..

I used the WordPress plugin to make adding the humans.txt file even simpler than it already is. With the plugin you just need to type in what you want and then save the information to WordPress.

You can use the code provided with the plugin to have your last published date, your list of plugins, your WordPress theme and assorted other things automatically updated. This was really nice because I know I won’t be thinking to update this file next time I manage the plugins I’m using. Some site automation is a great thing!

humanstxt

I added ASCII art (my artist stick figure) to the humans.txt file too. Being plain text it worked fine!

Titles Matter Don’t Assume

Titles matter when you post to Twitter or other social media or the actual blog post itself. Don’t assume people will know what you are talking about. A title is especially important when you are sharing a link you want readers to click. Inside your blog post a link should be used for the words which describe the post. Not “click here”.

Don’t send a link to social media like a “click here”.

titles matter

 

If this appeared in your social media feed (Twitter in this case) would you click that link?

We follow a lot of people in Twitter, at least I do. We don’t know them all well and we can’t possibly keep up with all of them. So we catch snippets and some of them catch our attention or interest. Some of them don’t. This interview may have caught your attention if you had known what it was about. But, from this title you don’t have that information.

It’s too bad because a lot of women would have enjoyed the interview. Or, if not, they at least would have appreciated the concept of being a sexpot with stretch marks. Perked your interest? See how that works much better than assuming people will know who she is and what book she wrote. Now you might even look her up on Twitter. But, not so likely before knowing the details.

Content Designer/ Writer Job Post

Found this posted to FreshGigs.ca

Content Designer/Writer Full-Time

Our philosophy is and yours should be ‘people using our products come first’.

We’re working to create marketing products that people want to use and words play a big part in that. Join the Trade and Marketing Division of the Ministry of Economic DevelopmentEmployment and Infrastructure where you will write, design, develop and produce marketing content, materials and products to market ministry programs and initiatives to target audiences through multiple content formats.

What can I expect to do in this role?

In this role:

  • you will create marketing products to market ministry programs and services using the written word, digital technologies, graphic design and other media
  • you need to be user-focused and know how to write and create with a real-life person not a department in mind

How do I qualify?

Marketing and Communications Knowledge and Skills:

You are able to:

  • create marketing content using a wide variety of media including written, digital, video, graphic design, etc.
  • take complex language, concepts and processes and make them easy to understand
  • clarify and communicate content objectives and bring a broader perspective to a topic so that it can focus on the right information for the user

Technical Knowledge and Skills:

You have proven experience:

  • writing for the web and creating marketing content that is clear, accessible and usable
  • developing marketing material in a variety of mediums and formats
  • choosing the best format for communicating information to the user
  • using existing content and repurposing it into alternate formats for additional uses
  • implementing content marketing strategies
  • using metrics and user feedback to define/refine content
  • marketing in a B2B setting

Analytical and Evaluative Skills:

You can:

  • analyze client needs and target audiences and recommend the most appropriate approach/medium/format, etc.
  • plan and design user-focused content
  • identify content gaps and overlaps and map out content strategies for different audiences using different formats
  • work with a multi-disciplinary team to understand user behaviours and feedback and develop effective content

How to be a Good Listener

Communication needs to be more than one direction, one person can speak but without being heard there is no real communication. (Unless you settle for talking to yourself). For communication you need a voice, you need to be heard and you need feedback to prove you were heard, as your message was intended. In the middle of communication is listening. There is a great saying about having to close your mouth in order to open your ears. It is true. You can’t hear someone else if you are the only one speaking.

Don’t try to communicate about anything important when one, or both of you, are tired or distracted by something else. People may act as if they are hearing you, pretend to be listening or even think they are listening, but not take in a thing you say. If you want to be heard, pick the best time and place. If you are the one listening and know you are not really able to listen at the time, let people know, ask to talk again when you are able to give them your attention.

While you are listening, don’t assume you understand everything. You won’t want to parrot every detail back to the speaker but it is good to confirm the important things such as dates, times and places. Also, never assume you understand how someone else feels, their emotions. Ask for details, this gives the speaker the chance to explore their feelings while they explain.

Take, and give, time when you are listening. Interrupting is impolite and makes it harder to communicate a full idea or message. It is tempting to interrupt when you think you have heard enough and are ready to give feedback. Sometimes we offer feedback, like free advice, before we have heard all the information, the details and feelings behind the basic information. Also, if you are focused on what you want to say, you can’t be fully focused on hearing what is being said.

The best ways to listen better are to pay attention, ask questions and be sincerely interested in the communication. 

Asking questions is a great way to show you are paying attention, have heard what was said (or written), care about what you are hearing and get more information to clearly understand. People enjoy talking about themselves and things which matter to them. You can continue a conversation as long as you like if you keep asking the right questions and listen to the answers.

Simply Security Questions

I was registering for an online points service with one of the grocery store chains here in Ontario. Part of the process was choosing a security question and then typing in your (unique and individual) answer. Well, I have a problem with the new security questions which pop up. I was just fine with the old standard Mother’s maiden name or Father’s middle name. I knew those, they had a simple and definite answer. 

Maybe they became too standard, maybe they were less secure as they became over used or maybe not everyone knows this information about their parents. Some how there are now new security questions and I usually can’t find a simple answer for any of them. I don’t remember enough, I don’t have strict enough opinions or I just don’t have a preference and this leaves me with no security questions and answers, too often. It’s frustrating. 

Here are the security questions from my recent adventure with them:

If you could be any historical figure who would you be?

Where did you go on your best vacation?

What is the name of your best friend from childhood?

What was the first concert you attended?

What is the name of your favourite teacher?

Do you have answers for all of them? An answer you are sure of enough to be able to remember and have the same answer months from now? Not me. I can think of a lot of historical figures, none I’d really want to be. My best vacation…. I can’t pick one. My best friend from childhood… too many options, we moved a lot when I was a younger child and then I never really was great at keeping friends or making them. Another memory game… the name of my favourite teacher, I can’t pick one from among the faces I remember and I’m not sure how to spell the names I can remember. First concert was Cher, or Sonny and Cher, I guess. Or was there something else I’ve forgotten. Likely so. I picked the concert question because it was the only one I might answer the same way twice. 

The problem with most of these questions is still that they do not come with simple, definite answers. Different spellings, different abbreviations, different ways of writing them (like short forms versus long forms). Even if you give the same answer it might be wrong because you typed it with capital letters or without any spaces the first time you gave the security question answer. 

This is why the old standards of Mother’s maiden name worked. Just type in a last name, with the first letter as a capital because (of course) it is a proper name. I miss the old, simple security questions. Security seems to be pulling us farther and farther away from the very things we are supposed to be accessing. I think it will be easier for someone else to guess my security answer than for me to remember it. 

What would you use as a great security question? Can you think up a few? 

The Archaeology Tool Set

One of the careers I wished for was archaeologist. I wanted to be the person finding out about ancient people. finding ancient and lost cities and working with the museums to display the history I had found. But, it didn’t happen thta way. 

Tonight I found a set of archaeologist tools

archaeologist tool set

What time period would you wanto to study if you were an archaeologist? There are more than just dinosaurs… would you study Medieval France? Mayan ruins in South America? The polar ice and all the information frozen through history? 

If you had a set of archaeology tools where would they take you?

5 Unconventional Ways to Improve Your Writing

5 Unconventional Ways to Improve Your Photography.

Apply these same ideas as a writer:

  • Study something, other than writing. Pick a hobby, how about photography?
  • Delete old stories, ideas and such which you “might use some day”. Don’t get trapped by old ideas, old clutter.
  • Limit your gear, make do with what you have. Stop shopping for new software, new books and other tools, accessories. Get back to the basics and rely more on yourself than props.
  • Take a closer look at your subject. Even if you are writing fiction, find something new, look for a fresh angle. Get a new perspective by stepping back from your past research, experience or opinions.
  • Teach someone else about writing. You can also pull together the information and resources you have and teach someone else what you know about the topics you write about. Explaining it all to someone else helps you rediscover what you thought you knew.