Blogging 101, Day Thirty: Pat Yourselves on the Back!


You know what’s awesome? You, you glorious blogger you! And you know what else is awesome? Giving kudos where kudos are due.

Day thirty, the last day of the challenge, assigns you to visit and congratulate five other Blogging 101 bloggers, and set a goal for the next thirty days.

Finishing a blogging challenge or event is a sign of committment and dedication (and, apparently, redundancy), and that deserves a bit of recognition. So once you’re finished patting yourself on the back, give a pat to some of the fellow blogging challenge participants who completed the journey alongside you.

As for setting a new goal for the next thirty days, I challenge you to go farther. Set yourself a goal for the next thirty days, and then for the three months after that, and then for the year after that. Never stop setting goals for yourself because that’s when you start to stagnate. Push forward, and try to have fun doing it!

My next blogging goal? Well, you’ll just have to stick around and find out!

Blogging 101, Day Twenty-Eight: Create a New Feature


Regular posting (three days a week, five days a week, or whatever you choose) is very important to maintaining readership because people won’t stick around your blog if there’s extended periods of nothing new for them to read. A helpful trick to help achieve this is to have a “feature” on your blog – that is, something that you do every week so that people keep coming back to check it out.

Today’s assignment is to develop a regular feature for your blog.

An example of a feature would be my would be my “Fiction Fragment Friday’s”. Every Friday I post an excerpt, short story, or drabble of fiction writing of my own design. It gives readers who enjoy my writing something to look forward to each week.

Another example would be Jay D Archer’s “What Will You Write?” challenges. Readers look forward to seeing what the next prompt will be, participating in the challenge, and returning later to see who won and what the other participants have written. The key is that it keeps people coming back for more.

So think about your blog, your readers, and try to work out something that you can feature on a regular basis. Your stats page will thank you.

Blogging 101, Day Eleven: Be a Good Neighbor

I’ve mentioned it several times before, but networking is a huge, huge part of successful blogging. It took me a while to figure that one out – as I’m sure it does for many newbie bloggers – because when we first start blogging we don’t think that there is anything more to it than writing. We imagine that we’ll write these amazing, thought-provoking posts, and people will just appear out of the woodwork to read and comment and praise how wonderful we are. But it doesn’t happen like that because, honestly, how do we expect people to find us? Michelle W. knows this as well, and that’s why day eleven’s assignment is to leave comments on at least four blogs that you’ve never commented on before.

Don’t quote me on this, but I’d be willing to bet that the majority of people who read blogs are people who have their own blogs. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Think about it: Facebook users are much more likely to come across your Facebook Fan Page than people who don’t use Facebook. Similarly, people who are already hanging out on WordPress/Blogger/etc because that’s where their blog is are more likely to read your blog. That’s why you want to engage. Make friends with bloggers who have similar interests as you have. Participate in blog hops, contests, challenges, and prompts. Become a part of the community. And be sure to comment on blog posts that you enjoy, because how can you expect people to do the same for you if you’re not willing to put in at least that much effort?

When I first started this blog I was the typical newbie. I was just writing posts and wondering why no one was reading them. The better part of the first year of my blog’s life was pretty much a waste, as far as building a readership because I was doing nothing to entice people to my blog. It wasn’t until I started interacting with the blogging community that things began to take off for me. Bloggers whose posts I commented on dropped by to see if they were interested in what I had to say. I took part in challenges and prompts and people found me through those. A few bloggers who liked me a lot shared my stuff on their websites and/or linked to me so that their readers might find their way to my blog. My blog is not an enormous success by any stretch of the imagination, but my readership has quadrupled since this time last year, and I’ve got a hell of a lot more followers than I once had. And it’s all because of networking, or in other words, “being a good neighbor”.

I’m writing this post and scheduling it in advance, but rest assured that I have commented on many new blogs this day and will comment on many more in the future. After all, we want to keep the neighborhood friendly, am I right?

Blogging 101, Day Four: Say “Hi!” to the Neighbors

Day Four’s assignment is honestly not one that I expected to see, but I’m glad that I did because looking back it would have been a good lesson when I first started this blog. The assignment is to follow five new topics and five new blogs in the Reader. If you’re really new to this and don’t know what the reader is, it’s that page that pops up when you first go to WordPress – or the one labeled “Reader” if you’re using an app – that shows a bunch of other people’s posts. You can choose a bunch of viewing options on the Reader, but the default shows the blogs and topics that you have chosen to follow.

The reason The Daily Post asks you to do some following? Well for one thing, community is a huge aspect of blogging. When you first start blogging you’re not going to have a big audience right away because no one knows who you are or how to find you. Your first followers will likely be other bloggers, and the way that most of them will find you is by returning the favor when you find them. Search for people who share the same interests as you, write about the same kinds of things you write about, or people who just make you think or laugh. The bigger you build your community, the more likely people will find their way to you.

I didn’t catch on to this gem right away when I first started blogging. I clicked on a few other blogs, for sure, but I rarely read them, and even more rarely interacted with them. It was probably a year or so after I started the blog that I began to realize, “Hey…why should I expect people to interact with me if I’m not willing to take some time to interact with them?” So I started to spend more time reading, liking, and commenting on the stuff that caught my eye. I built up a respectable list of blogs that I follow, and many of those bloggers have become internet friends and great sources of ideas for the blog. If it weren’t for the people I’ve interacted with, I never would have come across this blogging “course”, for instance, nor the A to Z Challenge, nor a number of other blog hops, awards, challenges, and various ideas.

Since I’m already following a ton of stuff, for the purposes of today’s assignment I’m going to share a few blogs and tags that I’ve found very useful. Check them out, and find some more of your own!

The Daily Post deserves a mention, of course, for being the benefactors of this particular challenge. Their blog has tons of helpful stuff for bloggers, including daily prompts in which they link back to your blog if you participate, and a “community pool” post on Sundays, in which you can share whatever you like and ask for comments, feedback, etc.

Kristen Lamb’s Blog is a must to follow if you’re a writer. She’s the guru on all things author platform-related, and also posts advice on the writing process itself. Occasionally she also has guest posters who have been known to share a wealth of useful information.

Perfection Pending isn’t a useful site in the traditional sense, but I love it to pieces because Meredith makes me feel a little less insane. She’s a mother of three who often writes about her children and her life in a funny, relatable way that makes me – as a mom and a writer – feel a little less alone in the world.

As for tags, it really depends on what you’re looking for, who you want to connect with, but I’ve found lots worth seeing by searching the tags “challenges”, “writers”, “mothers”, and “authors”. Just think about who you want to connect with, and hope that those people did a good job tagging their posts. 🙂


In the Summer of (a Writer’s) Life

I’ve been talking a lot lately about Kristen Lamb‘s Rise of the Machines. And I’m not likely to stop anytime soon because every time I get a minute to read a bit more I end up finding something I want to talk about. It’s just that good. 😀

Today I read a short chapter that invites us to establish which type of writer we are…Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter. Spring writers are the young ones with tons of time, almost no responsibilities, but not a lot of experience. Fall writers are older so they have lots of experience, and they have few responsibilities because their bills are probably paid off and their children are probably grown up. Winter writers are of advanced age, meaning they don’t have a lot of time left to make their writing dreams come true, but the time they do have can be 100% devoted to writing, and they have tons of experience.

I fall firmly into the category of Summer writer. In fact, I fall so firmly in this category that I found myself nodding enthusiastically as I was reading Kristen’s description. Summer writers are still fairly young, but they’re old enough to have gained a bit of worldly experience. At first it seems like an ideal time to be writing, but there are other problems. The biggest problem facing Summer writers is that they are in the most responsibility-laden era of their lives. Summer writers have day-jobs, children, mortgages, car payments, student loan payments, chores and errands that need doing. Summer writers can’t always find time to write because they have to dedicate many of their waking hours dealing with day-to-day career and family issues. Summer writers may be fatigued because they’re run off their asses by household requirements and children keeping them up at all hours of the night.

Summer writers, to put it succinctly, are bogged down with copious amounts of stress. They’re young, and they have experience, but they have no time.

Currently I am experiencing a slight reprieve, as my job out West recently finished and we’ve paid off enough debts that we don’t have to worry about money for a little while. Regardless, a lack of time is still my biggest complaint. On a daily basis, as the sun wanes in the West, I chastise myself for not writing more, and promise to do better the next day. But the next day I find a million other things to do, or the baby has a bad day, or I didn’t get any sleep that night so I’m completely knackered. And so when I do get a few moments when I could be writing, I instead find myself reading or playing video games or watching movies in bed (and trying not to drift off while doing so).

I’m not trying to give myself a pass or anything; I don’t get to just blame all my troubles on the fact that I’m at a particular period of life and I don’t get to whine that I can’t write because everything else is in the way. But I can say that there are challenges, and that I’m definitely not alone in having to deal with them.

No matter the season, all writers have struggles that they must work through, and as a Summer writer, I invite all other “Summers” to struggle with me. We have families and jobs and responsibilities, but we also have writing, and we have each other. We can do it, come hell or high water!

What season are you? What struggles do you fight with because of the time of life you happen to be in? Please share! I’d love to hear from you!

Things I’ve Learned Through Blogging

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

11. What you’ve learned through blogging

A few things:

– That sticking to a schedule is not as easy as it sounds.
– That coming up with ideas for things to write about is not as easy as it sounds (thus all the challenges).
– That it can be a great way to network and meet other people in your field, so long as you’re willing to put as much effort into reading other peoples’ blogs as you are putting into writing your own.
– That it’s a great way to keep your writing muscle flexed.
– That seeing your stat page count visits to your blog can be a ridiculously awesome high.
– That sometimes, unfortunately, you’ll put your heart and soul into a post and have no one read it.
– That it’s difficult to keep your train of thought on a post when you’ve got a toddler poking her head around your laptop and saying, “Elmo? Elmo?” 🙂