Thursday, 29 January 2015

10 Top Tips to Boosting Blog Traffic!

This post is a re-post from 2012! (3 years ago!)

So the reason why you clicked the link to this post is to read "10 Top Tips to Boosting Blog Traffic" so I assume that you have a blog and if you do then leave your link in the comments below! If you don't I think that a blog is a must for all writers. (For more points on raising your writer profile click here -- 10 Top Tips to Raising Your Writer Profile)

These tips are in no particular order because you need to be doing ALL ten of these points.

1 // Target an Audience!
This might seem pretty obvious but you need to know who your target audience is and you need to show this in the content. If your posts are all over the place with nothing in common with each other people will be less inclined to follow you. If you're a writer you might want to document your journey with an informative post about what you've learnt about the industry here and there. You NEED to aim it at a group of people, and you need to have something that interests them.

2 // Use Your Social Ties!
Facebook and Twitter are used differently by different people, as a writer you might use them to document your word count and share with the rest of the world in hopes that they will encourage you to "keep up the good work" and a lot of people will. Another use is promotion! Promote your blog, sell your blog with your words and make people want to read THAT post you've just posted. (See above link on how to raise your writer profile)

3 // Do Guest Posts!
Guest posts are a great way of getting to a new and broader audience, the audience of whoever blog that you're guest blogging for. You might want to exchange, so you provide them with a guest post and they will provide you with one. There are a lot of writers out there who allow authors to submit blog posts like Chuck Wendig and Joe Konrath. (I mean, if you don't ask anyone, you won't get anything. Nobody is going to offer to host you out of thin air.)

4 // Blog About Popular Topics!
By this, I mean that you should blog about the popular topics in your area. When Borders was closing down there were so many people blogging about it and trying to get their opinion out. It's also a great way of driving traffic to your blog. Another example would be when Amazon introduced KDP Select -- there were a lot of opinions on this, some good and some bad. I didn't get involved with this, but I did read a lot of posts on the matter.

You need to be involved with the community, if you're not involved and you're just going about your own thing, then you'll never know what's happening in the world. So stay informed and inform your readers as well.

5 // Reference Your Own Posts!
You see what I did above, right at the top, I referenced my previous posts! There is also LinkWithin that is how some authors get those little thumbnails at the bottom of their post. Make sure that what you're referencing is relevant and/or ties in with what you're blogging about.

6 // Allow Email Subscriptions!
I think that all bloggers should have some tie with FeedBurner because it's one of the most useful sites on the internet that allows you to see how many people have clicked on your posts etc. and it's free! They also offer to email people every time a new blog post goes up! My FeedBurner email subscription box is just below on the left.

Feedburner is easy to use. Just sign up and it will walk you through the rest. Have a play around with some of the widgets. It's fun.

I also think that having an email list that people can sign up to, perhaps MailChimp so that you have something solid in case your page or blog is deleted and you have no way of getting in touch with your readers.

7 // Add Pictures!
I used to add pictures to my blog and a lot of people have said that the picture I have used originally attracted them to my blog. I get my images from Google and I don't ask for permission, which someone should slap my wrist for, but it is a lot of effort to go through and most of the time the picture has circulated the internet realm for so long that nobody knows who it belongs to.

There are picture hosting sites like Flikr that will allow you to embed photos to your blog post and that's so much easier to get a hold of the person who owns the photo. This also serves as a great way for them to get noticed. Also, with any picture you use, if you know who the artist/author/photographer is, you can always add a link to their profile within the image.

8 // Use SEO!
SEO is an abbreviation of 'Search Engine Optimization' and that is the process of improving the visibility of your blog in the search engines. These means that you need to use the titles of your blog and use keywords! If you use titles that mean nothing then you're going to get nothing. So being upfront, as with the case of "10 Top Tips to—"

Another part of SEO is getting indexed by search engines and all that means is your page will come up in the list of searches. To be indexed you need to go to Google Webmaster and it will index your pages. It explains everything that it does. But have a play around with it and familiarise yourself.

9 // Social Network Buttons!
You might have seen that I have little like boxes and tweet boxes or "tweetables" attached to my posts and embedded on the actual page. You can find super easy tutorials online, and it can take a matter of minutes to get it done if you follow them accurately enough. Make sure that the guide you're looking at is tailored to the host that you use. I use Blogger, so I know they have them for that, but I'm pretty sure they also have them for Wordpress as well.

10 // Interaction is Attraction!
Everyone loves comments. I follow a lot of blogs and you should follow a lot! You should also read their posts and leave comments that interact with the post. Don't spam! If you spam then they might block you or unfollow you. When I do leave comments I also include my blog URL because I like to leave long comments that interact with the post etc. and that's what you should do as well!

Friday, 16 January 2015

10 Top Tips to Raising Your Writer Profile!

I've been asked quite a lot over the past couple of weeks how I've managed to build my internet presence, so I compiled a list of 10 top tips! Some of these I've done myself, and others I haven't #7 and #8.

So I figured that I would repost this from 2012! There's a few comments below from 2012 as well. Woo! Time travel!

Not a tip: be passionate about writing and if you are, it will show!

I have compiled a list of the 10 things that you can do to raise your profile as a writer.

1 // Facebook
Facebook is by far the largest social networking site, full of writers and authors, oh my! Here, you can join groups, create pages, and build relationships with other writers and you may even find some people who will beta read your work. I would also suggest creating a Facebook page, although a personal page is fine, you can connect with more people through a page. There are also groups on Facebook, so if you search for "aspiring authors" or "writers" you are sure to find a group full of people who are just like you--trying to raise their profiles. I too have a page, it's on that sidebar, or inside this link > Facebook page.

2 // Blog
I tell everyone to get a blog, and I tell everyone to use Blogger. I've never used any other blog hosting site, but Blogger is fairly easy to navigate and use. I suggest getting a blog because you will be able to show people that you can write. You must decide on what you want your blog to be about, although saying that, my blog has some personal posts, some creative posts and some critical posts. So decide on your mix. I would also suggest blogging to a set schedule. However, I've been known to set them and not stick to them, but when I did stick to them, it was a great feeling of accomplishment. 

3 // Twitter
This if a very useful places to drum attention to your Facebook page and your blog, and you can also foster new relationships here as well. I would recommend using hashtags, the '#' symbol as this is one way people can find you. I use hashtags when promoting blog posts with such hashes as '#writing' '#amwriting' or keywords that the post is about. See--it's useful, not just a drain on your time. (Since writing this, Facebook have also introduced hashtags!) I'm on Twitter too! @Joe_Eastwood

4 // Member of Goodreads
Become a member of Goodreads. I think that is an important one, especially if you're going to be self-publishing. Goodreads indexes all books and it is up to you to put your book up on Goodreads, you must first change your account into an Author account. Once you've posted your book up there people may choose to add your book to their 'to-read' list or if they've already read it then they may choose to rate it and leave a review.

5 // Write Guest Posts
One way of getting your name out there is to guest post on other people's blogs. The owner of the blog will then allow you to promote yourself at the end of the post, that is if the reader made it all the way down to the bottom. This might be a reciprocal thing where you post to their blog and they post to yours.

6 // Post Your Writing
Nothing says that you are a writer more than a post with some of your writing. I don't mean start posting work that you're building up into a larger piece, but finished pieces, maybe a short story or some poetry. Something quick and easy to read, or maybe you're wanting to post something to whet the appetite of your readers i.e. a teaser. There is a notes section on Facebook, or you could post it as a blog post, and there's even a section on Goodreads where writers can post their writing.

7 // Magazines
There are a lot of magazines out there that are aimed at writers, these magazines might be about writing, or they might focus on one part of writing, such as poetry, or within a certain genre. If you can get published in a poetry magazine then you can add that to your CV of writing achievements and it will most certainly raise your profile as a writer. As a magazine is something that is traditionally published it may even help in finding a publisher when you try and get that novel burning on paper published.

8 // Anthologies
There have been a lot of anthologies going around in the indie publishing world, this is partly for the publishers to gain more capital or contribute to a charity; I say this because a lot of anthologies do not pay, but if you're okay with exposure then go right ahead. Like I said above, it is something that can be added to your CV of writing achievements. All you need to do is submit work and if they say no, then at least you tried.

9 // Professionalism
Make sure to be professional on your page. In your blog. Your tweets etc. because when you're out there looking for readers, and they come across you and then they see the bitterness in you, they will probably run a mile. Readers love to see humour and positivity, they don't want someone that they look up to, essentially, to be a drain on them emotionally. Be a nice person, it comes back three-fold.

10 // Be Current and Consistent! 
You need to always update your blog and your Facebook and your Twitter, if you don't then your reach or momentum will start to dwindle. Once you've got a bit of momentum going then don't stop, keep on going, keep posting to that set schedule and updating your Facebook with the progress that you're making with your novel, or even writer quotes that have inspired you. 

Read this >> "How to: Be a Popular Author" but DO NOT do anything inside it, just because something is commonplace it does not mean that it's right. However this post will help you >> "How to: Brand Yourself".

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Viewpoints & Narrative // Writing Tool

Here's another blog post from four years ago, it's a somewhat follow on post from "Pronouns" and it's going to be covering viewpoints and narrative.

The narrative is how the story is told. In the case of writing your piece of fiction, it's the story, how everything fits together and creates on complete piece. 

The viewpoint is a position from which the view is. It's the perspective, the angle, the mindset of someone. 

And the narrative viewpoint is in which way you're going to be telling the story and through who's viewpoint. 

Before pen touches paper or fingers to keys, you need to decide and be really clear on who's telling the story and what type of narrator (1st, 2nd, or 3rd) you're going to be using. Although you might not think it at first, but the different viewpoints take a lot of writing to get to grips with, and you have to be consistent while writing and weaving the story, if you're not consistent, or you break viewpoint narrator once, even the slightest knock and the reader is pulled out of the story. 

Think of writing fiction as if you were crafting the shell of an egg for something glorious to hatch (fiction), now if you knock it, even a little, you can smash the shell and it has that kind of ripple effect and all that does is ruin the shell (finished piece).

So we know that we mustn't knock the thin veil of viewpoint writing, and what better way to be assured than to remind yourself about pronouns.

1st person // I, me, my.
Used for a more personal feel to fiction. Often only one character through the piece. There isn't any head jumping as this can confuse the reader.

2nd person // you
A rare narrative type, not as popular as first or third, but there's still a great place for this type in fiction. It's hard to keep this up, but if you do, it can be fantastic!

3rd person // he, she, him, her, they
This is the most common storytelling point. It can be used for both a detached and also a very personal storytelling. 

Choosing your viewpoint character. So you'll most likely have a list of people, you might have even come up with the story centered around that character, which is even better. However, if you are stuck, ask yourself which character is more compelling, who offers the better perspective to your piece of fiction.

If you're struggling with your viewpoints, then here's some signs you should look out for:

Switching Narrators
I know that multiple narrators and viewpoints can be used to the advantage of the reader of knowing all sides of a story etc. but what I'm addressing here is switching narrators in the middle of a paragraph or middle of a scene, they should be easy enough to spot. I recommend not changing so frequently as it will only leave you with disgruntled readers. If you are changing narrators and viewpoints in your novel I strongly suggest doing it at a scene break or start of a new chapter.

Knowing Too Much
Characters shouldn't know something another character knows, especially without being told it. One of the advantages of using the first person narrator 'I' is being inside your characters head, and not being inside anyone else's head, that is unless your character is telepathic, in which case, you're probably going to have a struggle with the storytelling and it will probably make you a better writer. 

Finding Their Voice
Characterisation is a huge part in finding your character's voice. You must care for your characters, they can be good, they can be evil, but you must care for your character, otherwise you'll become  disengaged and your reader will probably stop reading.

Even the most evil of characters ala Dexter from the book series and TV show are cared for by the readers and viewers. Just like people care for Draco Malfoy.

I will cover characterisation in detail in a later post. Make sure that you give your character vulnerabilities. 

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Writing Tool // Narrative & Viewpoint! - Tweet Here!

Monday, 12 January 2015

Pronouns // Writing Tool

I wrote this post about four years ago now, in the summer of 2011. It's an informative piece about pronouns, and it's always interesting to learn more and go over things, especially the different word classes, so I'll be starting with pronouns, and taking it from there.

Pronouns take place of a noun, often replacing a noun that has become repetitive -- however, pronouns can too become repetitive. They are sometimes called the antecedent because they refer back to something through either 'it' or 'them' -- or even 'her' and 'him'.

There are various categories of pronoun and are labelled according to their function in a sentence.

The SUBJECT of a sentence: 

Alice waved at Mona.
She waved at Mona.
--Alice is doing the action.

Singular / Plural
1st - I / We
2nd - You / You
3rd - He, She, It / They

The OBJECT of a sentence:

Alice waved at Mona.
Alice waved at her.
--Mona is the one receiving the action.

Singular / Plural
1st - Me / Us
2nd - You
3rd - Him, Her, It / Them

* * *

Other classifications of pronouns include, relative, reflexive, reciprocal, possessive, indefinite and demonstrative.

This consists of 6 words: who, what, whose, that, whom and which, and they are used to tell the reader more about the noun before it.

Ex. The sandwiches THAT I made did not have any butter on them.
'Sandwiches' is the noun, and everything after 'that' is extra information about the sandwiches.

This type of pronoun is formed by adding the suffix 'self' or 'selves' to the pronoun-- myself, himself, herself, yourself, oneself, itself, ourselves, themselves, yourselves. These words are used when the subject and object are the same, either person or thing.

Ex. 'I can speak for myself.' Or -- 'You can't look after yourself.'

Consists of each other and one another. Each other is exclusive of just two people while one another is more than two people. So, if you're ever in doubt of which one to use, think of how many people are involved.

They are my, mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs, and its. These words are used after the noun in which is referred to as belonging to them; a possession; possessive.

Another pronoun class that we use when we can't say what/who etc. it definitely is, hence being an indefinite pronoun: all, anyone, nobody, everybody, everyone, several, few, somebody, some, no one, many, another, anything, everything, nothing, someone, each, none, any. I think that's all of them, I did seek Google's expertise out, if not feel free to add some in the comments.

They are this, that, these and those. They are also called demonstrative determiners and exophoric references (the last term is commonly used when examining speech, meaning something which has been referred to out of the text) they refer to something in the story space, and has perhaps been mentioned before in the same scene/paragraph etc.

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Writing Tool // Guide to Pronouns! - Tweet Here!

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Make Time to Write in 2015!

The end of the year is usually one of those times when we all become optimistic about the future, we say throwaway phrases like "New Year, New Me" and that's great, but when we wake up on January the 1st, we're still the same people we've always been, except now we're writing 2015 instead.

"Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one." - Brad Paisley

We're in control of what we do and the excuses that we make to justify another year of not achieving a single thing that we set out to, and there are some really creative excuses out there. How about we channel that creativity into our writing instead.

I'm asked quite a bit "How do you find time to write?" -- as I'm in full-time education at university, it can be difficult to get writing and reading time in, but one thing that's for sure is I do not find it, I MAKE time to write!

We all have the same 24 hour days; 8 hours work // 8 hours play // 8 hours sleep. << That sounds like a pretty awesome day, and that's the kind of monotonous schedule that I could live my life by, but I won't, and neither will you, unless writing is your full-time job, but even then, everyone needs to take a break.

Make vague statements like "I'm going to write more in the New Year" you don't have to make these statements to anyone but yourself, and don't set yourself unrealistic statements, because the chances of you having your book traditionally published next year if you're starting out without an agent is very slim.

Make plans! Tell yourself that in the morning, at night, or just after dinner, you will write for a solid 15 or 30 minutes, maybe longer, but tell yourself that you will do it. Tell yourself that this is the year where you will make goals that you can achieve. 1,000,000 words in a year? (Maybe not for me.) How about 365,000 words? A 1,000 a day.

When we write we're using muscles, and the more that we write, the more we use those muscles; the better (stronger/bigger) they get, the better you are!

Write now so you don't regret
Not writing later.