Time to End Picture Book Blogging?

I think its time to stop posting images with every post for the sake of having an image with every post. Unless your site is showcasing your art, illustrations and photography, most of the images posted are just decoration. How many stock images do you really need to see in a day?

We are adults, we read books without pictures on every page. Usually the only pictures are on the book cover. Magazines and newspapers run images with articles but not random, meaningless images. Isn’t it time to put away the pretty pictures in our sites too?

Unless an image is required to illustrate a point or give directions, why are they needed? I know people think the images help with SEO, but do they really?

Want your site to load faster, dump the picture book images.

Often the image is something barely relevant to the topic. It does nothing but add colour. We are not children. We don’t need colourful picture books.

Treat your readers like the adults they are and put away your picture book blogs.

Bookmarks are Reader Testimonials

You can hear the nay-sayers when it comes to web bookmarks and blogrolls. Not everything from the old, retro Internet has become obsolete.

Source: Modern SEO: The end of social bookmarking websites – BloggingConsult

But… are they right? Is keeping a list of your favourite links, the links you still visit to actually read, a bad idea? I don’t think so.

Of course, I try not to blog for SEO and Google in general. The very idea of doing all of this for a mindless machine is unappealing. Even if I don’t have many readers, or get feedback in comments or make fame and fortune through my sites… at least I’m doing something I really care about, my own way.

Back to the bookmarks!

People used to work at getting links from other sites. There were link exchanges, web rings and assorted other plans and schemes. Now Google put the scare into most people… duplicated content, too many links. etc. Google scares people because they want to be scared. In fact, Google works for us, the readers of blogs. Google wants us to find good content because then Google can sell more ads based on the people using Google and finding what they were looking for.

If we each keep a list of sites were really do like and find useful, we help our readers and we even help Google.

Each bookmark and blogroll link is a testimonial, a recommendation, from readers (real people, not machines).

I still look for a list of resources and links when I visit other sites. Isn’t that the point of visiting a niche site especially? You want to find information, resources and new ideas. Other resources are important.

Even if you have found a niche topic and you are the only resource there are still sideline resources, like supplies, maintenance and so on. Sidelines are great opportunities for you to run affiliate links for Amazon (for example) products/ books/ etc which you don’t offer yourself. Sidelines are a way to show readers you really know what you are writing about too. You can offer a complete package to readers of your site and keep them on your site by giving them all the information they need. Google will like you for it too.

Don’t think you can’t link to your competition either. You show confidence in doing so. Plus, you make yourself part of that group of well done, successful and popular sites in your topic or niche. Send a note to the other sites. Do not ask for a link exchange, be smart and offer them something they need: content and ideas. Interview them and post it to your site. Guest post (but make sure you have a great idea they really will want).

You can build your authority and readership with bookmarks and by having people bookmark you in return. But, the best are those who do it because they want to, not those done as an automated link exchange or some kind of deal about linking back.

Sincere recommendations and testimonials are the word of mouth you want people to hear. Blogrolls and bookmarks are not dead.

From the Endless Bucket of SEO Comment Spam

SEOdoesntread

I know you have seen this same post in your comment spam. Sometimes I read them before flushing them. This one bugs me. It assumes we are all writing for SEO. As if writing were just a formula of HTML. Writing, making sense, having a voice or something to write about means nothing. You could write gibberish as long as you throw in keyword gibberish and use bold and italics and various sizes of headers.

Too shallow to be sustainable

Stuff like this makes us all seem worthless.

Stuff like this makes it seem it really is all about money.

Stuff like this is why people don’t read and have the attention span of a potato chip.

Don’t become part of the problem. Keep writing for human readers. Let Google find you because someone actually read your work and thought you were great.  Anything less is too shallow to be sustainable. 

Blogging 101: Introduce Yourself

ASCII artistI still like blogging, publishing and writing on the web. But, I have seen it change so much from the early days when I began online in 1996. A lot of it is disappointing. Once we had free creative energy and the only rules were those we gave ourselves. There was no marketing, or SEO or keywords. I was an editall (meaning I could edit the entire directory) for the Open Directory Project. I stayed with it for just over ten years. We were the first to fight spam – before anyone started calling it SEO and giving it credit for being “marketing”. It still seems  a lot of spam to me, but I am seeing it can be used and necessary too. I’m trying to change after all these years of spam fighting.

That is pretty much why I bought this web domain (years ago, far longer than some people have been online). I wanted to create an oasis where creative blogging still flourished and was celebrated. Something where marketing was a discouraging word and SEO could be booed and hissed at.

I may never have my oasis but I can write about blogging from the other side. Try to show people there is more to blogging than money making schemes and SEO. Remember and create great blogs with clever writing, gorgeous images and creative arts of any kind you can fit into the virtual/ digital world of the blog.

So that’s my purpose here. I’m a bit off track at the moment and things have been slow to start. Not that I lack passion, just the focus has gone a bit wonky and I’m working on fixing it. I’ve spread myself a bit thin and now I’m simplifying things and getting my focus back into perspective. Any site you start you need to sustain. I’m finding my feet with this one so I can have the drive and passion to sustain it (and my other sites too).

Read more about me and my other sites.

Individual Bloggers Need Their Own Niche

Top 5 Ways to Master Online Content

1. Optimize, Not Compromise

Content farms are so obsessed with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that they prioritize search terms within content over logical narrative. Worry less about how Google indexes, and focus on delivering great information about potential keywords.

5. Find Your Niche

Being an expert at one thing is better than being knowledgeable on many things. Do research on a specific area of interest. Find what is under-represented and fill the void.

via Too long. Didn’t read. – The Writer.

I think finding your niche (actually, creating your niche) is the real way for individual writers online these days. We can’t compete with the amount of general content on the content farm sites. Even as a writer on one of the content farm sites we seldom stand out enough to make enough money. So, the key is to stand out on your own in some way. Find your niche, something you can sustain, and then get into promoting it so people will begin to find you out here in the vast online wilderness.

Create a Blogger Wiki to Promote Your Content

Note: This was originally written for HubPages and the writers there.

When you write content on a site like HubPages you want it to be found by people interested in reading about your topic (niche/ genre/ subject matter). But, it can feel like you’re alone in a vast ocean, standing on a rock, jumping up and down, waving and waving without anyone noticing you at all. So, you need to build a platform which rises you a little higher and makes you easier to find.

The established ways to do this are to use social media, backlinks, and other worthy and less worthy ideas which people lump into SEO (search engine optimization). The problem with some of these tactics is the difference between attracting human readers versus attracting search engine bots which don’t actually read your content. Search engines won’t read your content, won’t link to your content and won’t refer friends and followers to your content. A search engine will only list your content for the real people to find. It does not endorse your content the way a referral from a real person can.

So, you need to do something more to bring people to your content. Keywords are not enough. Too many keywords will detract from your content because no one really wants to read that promotional content which is directed to SEO and not human readers. Too many keywords make your writing dull and bland.

Use Google Blogger to Create a Wiki Resource

Try opening a Google Blogger blog, pick a name which suits your content.

Write an introduction post and an about page.

Look for other content such as content curation feeds and RSS feeds relevant to your main topic.Some of them, like Scoop.it, will have widgets which display the content feed. Plus, this is another place you can suggest your own links to as you write new posts. So you will see your HubPages post appear in the feed on the widget you have displayed. This is especially nice because people reading your wiki will see you as an authority beyond the content you have created yourself. It’s like making yourself famous.

Create a few links to sites which you know are excellent references for your topic. You can ask for a link exchange with these sites – once your wiki is established, aged and seasoned a bit.

Now the part where your own content comes in.

Begin to post links to your HubPages posts/ content. Do not repost the content, just create an index. Sort your posts into subtopics branching from the main theme or genre which you write about. (If you write about several topics set up a fresh Blogger account and repeat the steps above for each topic).

Use your subtopics as post headers (titles) and add your links relevant to each subtopic in your topic/ genre. Check your links, make sure they are all going where they should be going – it is not too hard to miss something when you are cutting and pasting several links this way.

In your blog sidebar, over the links to outside reference sites, post links to each of the posts you have just created (the subtopics). Like building an index to your own subtopics in the sidebar.

In this way you are creating a wiki for your content which focuses on your HubPages content but not exclusively. A wiki is a personally created resource about one topic. Traditionally, a wiki is not run by just one person but several contributors sharing knowledge and resources. You can gather others to join you too. However, then you are sharing some of the limelight but building a wiki community is a great way to share your links among the community you create. So it is a trade off and something you can consider.

This idea does not work as well on WordPress.com because Blogger.com is Google’s own appendage blog site. So, it gets some preference.

It does take extra time and energy to create this kind of index to your HubPages content, but it will bring you to the attention of the Google and other search engines. Also, extra Adsense (which you can easily load on Blogger too).

Don’t let your wiki stagnate.

Maintain the blog, add your fresh HubPages content to the subtopics which you have set up.

Add new outside links as you find really good sites to refer people to.

Create an actual post for the blog once in awhile, monthly is fine. The post doesn’t have to be labour intensive. An update about the work you are doing to research your topic is a good post. Or, something you heard/ read in the news relevant to the topic. The point of keeping a monthly post is to show the site is active, at least once a month.

Link to this blog in each of your posts on HubPages. Just add it to the links with a note about it being your wiki or reference site for people who would like more information, etc.

Share the wiki.

The link to your Blogger wiki is one more link you can promote to social media, content feeds, and all the other routine places and ways you promote your content.

Creating the wiki is giving your content (on HubPages or any other sites you write for) an extra boost, another way to be found in the great, big ocean.

Participate Outside of HubPages

If you aren’t already involved in forums and other online communities within your topic make sure you get involved now. Join a relevant forum and be active. Daily is nice but not very practical. Aim for at least weekly and then read as many posts in the forum as you can and contribute. Of course, you can create a signature to use in the form with at least one link to your wiki or your HubPages link, both if possible.

From the comments on the original post:

 

That Grrl  Hub Author

@prarieprincess I got the idea as I was replying to someone else in the forum who was complaining about Google and traffic and etc, the same old stuff. I have never been overly reliant on Google for traffic. I like to look for my own ideas to bring in traffic/ readers.

One thing people writing here don’t quite understand is that HubPages is not buying your content/ articles. If they were there would be copyrights involved. HubPages is buying your social media skills and whatever else you do that works to bring in readers (traffic) to the site. HubPages sells ads which appear with your articles. We get a percent of that. So, in reality the whole thing is not about your content but aobut the traffic you generate here.

Knowing this it is a really good plan to focus on bringing readers from outside of HubPages into HubPages without focusing on Google. This is because once you are in the database at Google you will either rise or stay about the same. There isn’t a lot of point in putting all your eggs in that basket.

So, generating traffic in other ways is the key. I got the idea of the Blogger wiki because I had been looking at wiki sites that week and it popped into my mind that I already have all my old Blogger sites from when I began online ages ago. Why not use them for more than just leaving a trail of links. I know they still get traffic even though I have done nothing but ignore them for years.

Thus the Blogger wiki idea was formed. I added more ideas to what I could do with it as I went along. I don’t have a finished example yet. I’ve got so many projects I’m working on that I am hoping to get my nephew out sometime to help me move stuff along.

 

That Grrl  Hub Author

I have my own blogs with domains and paid hosting. But, you don’t have to go that way. I didn’t start out that way. I’ve been online more than ten years. I was online several years before making the commitment to paying for web hosting. So don’t feel you need to rush into it. A Blogger blog is still free for software and hosting and that will do just fine. More than that is just vanity – which is how they call it a vanity URL/ domain.

I would do both. There is no reason you can’t have an index of all your HubPages post in the sidebar of the blog. Then create individual posts with summaries and links at the end for each post too. This blog is your space to bring your content to the foreground, show it off and get it found. People are using the term ‘discoverable’ lately. and that is just what you are doing.

The only thing you should not do is copy your post and create the dreaded duplicate content. However, unlike at HubPages, on your own site you can have all the links you want. (HubPages gives you a notice if you link to the same domain more than twice).

Have fun with the blog, decorate it. Add widgets for social media which you use and of course highlight your posts here. Then do post the blog link around – use it for your signature in online forums and communities. Get the link around so people can find your content. This is how Google search bots will also find your content and consider it as important because there are links to it in a source outside of HubPages. Also, the link back from your posts on HubPages will keep the bots looking at your links and finding more of your content. They used to call them spiders because they follow links from one starting point to other directions, branching out from the starting point, spidering out.

How to Be a Great Guest Blogger

What makes someone a great guest poster?

Great guest bloggers know the blog they want to write for. They know the content published, the niche the blog aims for.

This doesn’t mean you have to camp out for weeks studying the blog. Start by reading the About section on the blog. Is this even a topic or niche you would have something to write for? Have you got something in mind that the blog owner will want to post?

Read back entries. Skim headlines for anything connected to what you plan to offer as a guest post. What has already been written about the topic? Do you have a new thought, a fresh angle? If so, this is a great thing to let the blog owner know when you submit your proposal.

Plan ahead and make sure your site (the place you choose to showcase your writing) is actually putting your best foot forward. Are there typos? Do all your links work? (You don’t want them to find a broken link because you moved a post – or a broken image file). What do you say about yourself? Do you have an introduction to who you are and what you are doing?

How can you interest blog publishers in the posts you offer them?

You submit a proposal for the post you want to write. Have your idea ready, have the whole post written or at least planned out. If this blog doesn’t want it you can find and ask other blogs who would be interested in the same content. But, if this blog owner is interested you want to have the content ready to send as quickly as you can.

Before you rush to send your post make sure you agree to terms with the blogger.

Ask when the post will be published, if the blogger has a schedule (most will).

Set out what you would like when it comes to an author bio and any links in the bio or the post itself.

How long or short should your post be?

Do you need to include an image? If not, can you get the chance to ok the image which is used with your post?

Do they have rules about using extras like text in bold or list posts?

Do they want to set the title themselves or will they be using whatever you send as a title?

Will other content be run with the post you have written, are they posting their own links or creating an introduction to go with your post?

Don’t spring any surprises on the blog owner once your post has been accepted. You also don’t want to find yourself surprised. Try to think ahead and… if you do get a surprise about how your post is used, keep calm, take a break away from the computer before you send off a note to the blog owner.

What is guest post etiquette?

Proofread your post, more than once. The blog owner won’t be impressed if they have to fix typos.

Ask the blog owner how they want the post sent. Some might prefer HTML or plain text. Some will want it as an attached file and some will want it in the email itself.

Keep your author bio short and don’t use more than two links. Pick smart links: your best source for showing your content and your most active (non-personal) social media account.

Don’t use too many links in the content of the post you write. Two is a nice amount. Three is less acceptable. Over three links will probably not sit well with the blog owner at all. Even if they publish the post they aren’t so likely to agree to more.

Afterwards… Promote Your Post!

Don’t sit on your laurels once your post has been published on the blog. Now is the time to promote your post. Get readers, bring in traffic and show the blog owner you have some pull, some regular readers and social media clout.

If you bring them traffic they will be far more interested in working with you again, and again.

Also, don’t abandon your post too quickly. Check for reader comments and answer them. Provide more information or just chat and use the post to build your own social network and bring people over to read more of what you have written. (This is why it’s a good idea to keep writing in the same niche/ topics where you want to build up your own authority).

A day after the post is up send the blog owner a note. A thank you note. Include any statistics you have about the post traffic. Ask for feedback from them. Ask if they have any ideas they would like worked on for a future post. There could be ideas they have not had time or resources to create a post about themselves.

You could become a regular contributor if things work out. But, watch your time management and don’t over commit yourself. Don’t undo what you have started by missing deadlines.Accept the work you know you have the time, energry and knowledge to complete.

None of these have my personal recommendation but they are a place for you to start looking for sites that want your content.

How to Approach Blogs Which Don’t Want Guest Posts

Pay attention to a site which does not accept guest posts. Don’t send them a guest post!

Chances are, a site which specifically does not want guest posts has been flooded with spam offers and they are fed up with the whole thing.

If this is a site or blog you really do want to write for, approach them through their blog comments. Do not offer them a guest post. You could also find them on Twitter and other social media (choose one they are actively using).

Begin by giving them real comments on the posts they have. Offer some ideas, tips, insights you have. Keep it light and neutral.

Make sure every communication and comment you have with them is typo free and use spell check.

Make sure you include a link back to your own blog (a place where your content is showcased). Let them find you.

After some time and several comments you could suggest an idea for a guest post relevant to their niche and offer to write it. Use your common sense and don’t end up sounding like just another spammer.

This way you are not one more half-assed idiot offering them a ‘free’ (typically irrelevant) post for their blog.

Read More

Quantity and Quality for Traffic and Readers

Originally posted to HubPages, March, 2013.

It seems I’m going to be one of those HubPages writers who does things the long, hard way. The way that takes it’s own, sweet time getting here.

I don’t know why I like giving myself hard goals to reach. But, it seems that I do. I set myself the HubPages writing goal to have my traffic badge for the 100K by (or closely after) the end of this year, 2012. But, I’m not getting any flash in the pan wonder traffic posts. So, it seems I am just going to have to keep making my own steady, slow progress.

I might not get 100K by the end of the year and that will be ok too. As long as I feel I am still making progress I will stick with it. It’s only when something seems to have stalled out completely that I begin to think I should be reconsidering the plan. I do tend to stick with things long after the flogging a dead horse idea though.

Don’t think I’m some doddering newbie type. I have paid attention to SEO schemes and even the scams. Most of them are not for me. I have a line drawn where my ethics kick in. If I cross it I just don’t see the point of continuing on. Once you cross your boundaries you’ve lost your original feeling of value in the project and accomplishing your original goal loses it’s worth too.

You Can’t Write for Traffic

What you may not know; there is a difference between traffic and readers.

Readers are the real people who visit your posts, sometimes read right to the end and occasionally leave a comment. Real readers are the people who want you to know they were there. Then there are general readers who maybe didn’t find what they were looking for, thought you could have had a better post or just didn’t quite catch on and stick with you through to the end of your topic.

All kinds of readers are good. Even those who just lurk and don’t let you know they are out there.

Then there is traffic. Traffic is just a number. That’s how I see it. Traffic doesn’t have a face, it may not have a home with a family and goldfish named Henry. Traffic can be something less than human, more likely traffic is a machine, or software and does not have a face at all.

By now you may have realized that traffic doesn’t read your content. Traffic doesn’t care that you spent extra time to pick just the right word. Traffic doesn’t care that your photo illustration was your own photo or that you waited all day for conditions to be just right for that photo. Traffic doesn’t care that you checked all your spelling, grammar and then proofread your post again.

Traffic just cares about keywords and how they can use yours.Traffic is Google, traffic is people looking for content to claim, traffic is a feed reader that no one may actually read… and so on.

You can’t write for traffic. Or, you shouldn’t be writing for traffic.

Build Your Readership by Finding Readers

If you want to build readers you need to go looking for them. Don’t wait and hope Google will come to you. Google is big, like a mountain. The mountain is not likely to come to you.

Today, while writing a post about women and friendship, I found a very interesting site, Finding Dulcinea. It calls itself an online library. Why is this interesting? Look at the site yourself. Chances are you will find something there to read, to find out more about, to spark your interest in some way. It’s a site with information and ideas. Not a web directory, like the ODP, but a gathering of ideas and information, like HubPages itself.

At Finding Dulcinea you can find articles to link to in your own posts. You can find new ideas to write about. You can find more information to add to posts you are writing, plan to write or have already published on HubPages. You can also find the people who wrote those posts!

Finding the person who wrote a post that interests you is a start to finding readers for your own posts. People tend to be interested in the same things, related ideas and information. Follow your writer, track down other sites he or she writes for. Can you find them on Twitter, Facebook or do they have their own blog? Who do they follow? Chances are you will find a lot of great resources.

Keep track of the resources you find. Use them for your own posts. Use them to continue on and find more resources and people. All of the people you find are perspective readers. You just have to help them find you.

Look at the list of resources you have created.

How many are Twitter accounts you could follow?

Don’t just quietly follow someone on Twitter. Announce yourself! This is so important and yet almost no one actually does it! Why not? I get a lot of new Twitter followers and I have to spend my own time to find out who they are and decide if I want to follow them back. How silly. How often do you really think I spend time doing this? Not too often.

If you decide to follow someone on Twitter send them a Twitter post and tell them how you found them, why you are following them, etc. Announce yourself, tell them who you are and give them a reason to choose to follow you back.

How simple was that?!

You can use the Twitter example for any of the social networks. Just adjust as necessary. The concept is the same.

Don’t be spammy. Make sure the note you send is catered to the person you are sending it to. See it from their side/ angle. Why should THEY want to follow YOU? What do you have to offer them?

Be a Realistic Joiner

It’s a good idea to give yourself an established Internet presence. Join things. Join the main social networks like Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and StumbleUpon. Even Facebook, though it’s lost a lot of it’s usefulness due to overtraffic (too much useless stuff).

Try a few others. Try Scoop.it where you build collections of content and share them with other people on the site and through your Twitter feed. Snip.it, and sites like it, let you branch out. You need the original account on Twitter and etc but you can post through Snip.it. It saves some steps and keeps your other social accounts from running dry. Less maintenance is a good thing.

Don’t be a joiner on sites that require a lot of participation, unless you really can give that kind of time and energy. Pace yourself. Don’t become just another dead account. If you can’t be active at least weekly, or a few times a month, don’t keep the account. Or, leave a note in your profile with links people can follow. You may be back some day.

Don’t Forget the Less Than Virtual and Digital World

Con’t forget, the Internet isn’t everything. It’s not the world.

Look around you offline, in the less virtual world. Are there local groups you can join right in your own town? Or, could you be bold, brave and daring… offer a workshop, start a group yourself and bring people together (in the real world) yourself?

People who have actually met you are very likely to take an interest in your work online. They are more likely to go to read your stuff and they are more likely to want you to know they were there. So, you will get readers who comment.

What can you do in a real, local way to find readers?

Sell your arts or goodies at a flea market, a farmer’s market and have business cards available? Hold a garage sale one weekend and put up a display about your topics and see how many people will take away a sheet with information they can read at home? Talk about your hobby/ interest at the local library and offer people a bookmark with your link printed on it?

Find out more about marketing your content offline. Also look up the phrase guerrilla marketing. Keep in mind your own ethics when you read about how far others have gone. But, you can get a lot of ideas that just might work from the crazy ideas of others.

Trading in SEO for Social Media

When you write a new blog post, or create a new blog (site), you should write, add the visuals and then edit before publishing. Then we would have focused on SEO, being pleasing to search engines. This seems to have changed in the last year or less. Now, it’s not SEO we work at but social media, link sharing and getting attention and content reposted to social media sources, like Twitter (my own favourite).

SEO (aka search engine optimization) has lost it’s crown. I won’t miss it. I never did like the phoniness and under-handedness of stacking a post with keywords in every possible nook and cranny. It was icky.

Social media has it’s moments of ickiness too. I especially don’t like how social media has turned the word friend into a meaningless word. A friend should be someone you like, not in a Facebook like way, but really actually like and enjoy their company, care about their day and… know something more than the name they use online.

However, social media does mean people have more say in the content that does become popular. It is not left up to stacks of keywords picked up by a web crawling spider bot – now there are real people who choose which information they pass along to their followers/ friends. The problem is still the amount of spammers/ commercial and business types who pass along garbage content – often content they have not even read or clicked through to be sure the link is active, working and not spam (or porn).

So, social media has it’s drawbacks too. But, at least it’s human powered. The marketing gurus seem to think a touch of being human is important for better sales. What a concept.

Writer’s Block Is More Than The Fear Of White Paper (Or Screen)

Guest post by Deanna Dahlsad.

One of the things I now find myself doing in my consulting work is providing clients with a Writing Prompt Service. It was born, like any good service, from client needs. In working with my clients, it quickly became clear that whatever their reason for having a website or blog, writers, bloggers, marketers, etc. all struggle with coming up with fresh ideas to write about.

I shouldn’t have been surprised; I’ve been stuck there myself with my own writing for my own sites. *wink* Some days, you just feel like you’ve said everything you can, you have no spark of inspiration. But when someone else hands you the task — a task that is suited for your own goals, it is much easier.

As a freelance writer, I do provide custom written content; but this Writing Prompt Service is a less expensive, DIY option. My Writing Prompt Service is pretty simple really: I provide my clients with an idea to write about.

What makes this service something worth paying for is the fresh set of eyes. I see what their site or business is all about, what they are trying to do, and what is missing for readers and/or potential clients and customers. I take all that information and provide them with a prompt for writing. It may be a question, an inspirational photograph, a news story — anything to get them talking (writing) about an idea or issue their website should be covering.

Because I approach this the same way I do with my freelance writing — from the point of view of the client’s goals and the needs of their site visitors, the prompted posts provide engaging organic SEO.

For those who feel stuck with their writing, but do not wish to pay for writing prompts, here’s a quick little list of ways to get ideas for writing:

1) Get out of the office or house. Often, part of feeling stuck is largely due to feeling stuck in the same old place. To rid yourself of that funk, get away from your computer, out of the office, out of the building. The fresh air will do you good and bring you fresh ideas.

2) When out — even just running errands, open your eyes and ears. Notice what people are talking about in the checkout line. Look at the headlines on newspapers and magazines on the sales racks. What are people wearing? What are they doing? What are they not doing? What about the houses, buildings, roads, businesses, etc. Are the flowers in bloom? Is it snowing? What might any of this mean to you, your readers, your business? From larger trends to tiny minutia, there are things you can observe which can spark your writing.

3) Consume media. Listen to the radio, watch TV, read books and magazines.  And read online. Really read. Don’t just scroll past the links on Twitter and Facebook, but read the articles and posts. I know this can seem tricky…

On one hand, we fear disappearing down a rabbit hole of lost or wasted time. You can overcome this easily by setting an alarm for say an hour or so.

On the other hand, we fear reading articles and blogs by those in the same industry. Will you be accused of copying someone’s idea, of not having your own ideas? If you participate in the conversation (by linking to the source of your idea when you write about it), you won’t be lambasted. And you can also bypass this issue completely by simply not reading industry publications.

4) Get fresh (free) eyes. Ask a friend or family member to ask you questions about your business, work, or the “beat” you cover.

We are often too close to our own work. Too often we don’t write about something because we believe that “everyone knows that” or we think that we’ve already addressed something; but they don’t and we haven’t. Too often we mistakenly believe that we aren’t good enough, interesting enough, smart enough, etc. to write about something. Pessimistically we think, “No one wants to hear about this from me.” But that’s nearly always wrong. If a friend or family member is asking you, likely your readers want to hear about it too — and from you.