Paula Writes

Paula Puddephatt – Author

How and Where to Find Blog Post Ideas — March 20, 2019

How and Where to Find Blog Post Ideas

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Most bloggers, on occasions, struggle to find inspiration and ideas for posts.

It definitely helps to keep some sort of list, of potential future ideas. Most of us are guilty of trying to hold various thoughts and ideas in our memories, but this isn’t always reliable, so it’s advisable to have a back-up, of some sort.

Of course, lists are all very well, but we do need to generate the ideas, to begin with.

Some do occur to us naturally, but we can’t depend upon this, if we hope to produce regular content.

It’s also very hit or miss, in terms of how great the resulting ideas will be. They will tend to be somewhat random, which may work out well – but not necessarily.

Creative inspiration can be wonderful, but sometimes leads us to write posts that don’t actually serve our target audiences. Posts, in fact, that very few people may end up reading and appreciating – which is hardly an ideal situation.

So, if we can’t rely upon pure inspiration, how should we come up with post ideas instead?

Here are a few suggestions.

Google, Bing, and other search engines.

During the process of keyword research, I tend to naturally find many ideas for possible future posts.

If you’re not doing keyword research, or don’t have a clue what I’m even talking about, read my post on the basics of blog SEO. It contains important information, that you definitely need, as a blogger.

Reddit.

I haven’t yet figured out how to most effectively use Reddit to generate serious traffic, although I’m aware that this is possible, and many content creators are using the platform with amazing results.

But Reddit is great, for other reasons. It’s basically a huge forum, divided into infinite smaller forums, or Subreddits, as they are known.

Find Subreddits relating to your niche, and browse through the questions that are being asked. Some of these will provide you with instant blog post ideas – and ones that you already know are likely to be of interest.

Pinterest group boards are another excellent place to discover potential blog topics.

If you actively use Pinterest, you’re probably already on at least some group boards. If not, I would suggest that you join some, as they can significantly increase traffic to your blog.

It’s best to join niche specific boards – and, the very fact that these boards relate to your particular niche, means that they are highly likely to give you ideas, when you notice what other group members are Pinning.

It isn’t necessarily ideal, in every instance, to directly copy a blog post idea. Often, putting your own twist on the original idea will prove beneficial.

Pinterest, more generally, can help, but group boards in particular.

You Tube is another excellent source of blog post ideas.

For Author Bloggers, such as myself, there’s a vibrant AuthorTube community. But, whatever you blog about, there’s probably some sort of You Tube equivalent.

Of course, other blogs can also inspire you, and social media sites, such as Instagram and Twitter.

And also Facebook – most particularly, if you join groups, relating to your areas of interest.

Facebook groups can be effective in a very similar way to Reddit, given that both are communities, in which questions are regularly asked and answered.

Of course, there are many more ways in which to generate blog post ideas.

Real life sources, such as talking to others, and reading books and magazines, should not be overlooked.

And, as for the internet – well, it’s a vast resource. The possibilities are endless.

Mindmaps, it’s worth noting, can be extremely useful, both to come up with, and organise, ideas and thoughts.

 

Hopefully you will find a few ways that work for you, and help you to find awesome ideas for future blog posts. At that point, the hardest part will be deciding where to start, and which posts to write first.

 

Follow me on: Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Paula Writes: Going Into 2019 — December 12, 2018

Paula Writes: Going Into 2019

paula-author-blog-2019

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed the lack of new posts recently.

This short post is simply to ensure that I don’t go silent on you all, for the whole of December.

Health issues, and various life circumstances, continue to be challenging, to put it mildly, and I don’t honestly know how many more posts will appear in 2018. Any that do will be a bonus.

However, I have actually been working on the blog: primarily updating graphics.

I’m planning to focus mainly on writing craft, going forward. Any specific ideas for blog posts are always welcome.

Season’s greetings, and very best wishes for 2019 (in case I don’t update again, before then – even though I still might…)

Thank you to all who have supported what I’m doing with this website, and my various projects. 

And peace and blessings to those who don’t get it, or want to. I’m not going to let your blend of negativity, indifference, and cruelty stop me, that’s all. 

Update, relating to my Tumblr account

 

Follow me on: Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

Building Your Author Brand: Personal Branding For Writers — August 27, 2018

Building Your Author Brand: Personal Branding For Writers

author-brand-building

I’ve discussed the role of author blogs, and how to effectively use social media, as part of your online platform.

And I’ve written specific posts about using Twitter, Tumblr, Google Plus, Instagram, and Pinterest, as a writer. So, now let’s talk about personal brands, in relation to authors.

Not entirely sure what people mean by the term “personal brand” – or wondering whether you even need one at all?

Well, here’s the thing. You already have one. We all do.

Your personal brand is the way that you present yourself, and the associations that others have, when they hear your name. Reputation – image – call it whatever you like – but you definitely have a personal brand.

The only question, then, is whether or not you actively and consciously take control. Taking control, as in, taking steps to ensure that your brand – your projected public image – is something you’re happy with.

Some people struggle with the concept of personal branding, because they view it in a negative light – or simply don’t feel that it’s appropriate to refer to people as “brands”.

I mean, we aren’t jars of Marmite, or cans of Heinz Baked Beans, right? But personal branding isn’t about that. It’s not about labelling ourselves, and what we do, in a limiting way.

And there definitely doesn’t need to be anything cynical about this.

A central aspect of personal branding has to do with our core values and beliefs, and those can be incredibly positive, and powerful.

In my Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams post, I talk about my own core message – which is, and always will be, at the heart of my personal brand. It’s why I do what I do, day after day.

Target audiences are important.

Personal branding isn’t simply about defining who we are, as individuals. It’s about the people out there – those we’re hoping to reach, and connect with.

Ultimately, for writers, that’s going to be readers – and I don’t refer primarily to casual readers, although they’re also valuable, but more so to those who will return. Buy any books that we publish – read our blog posts, on a regular basis – support us, in any way they can.

We can call them fans, although it’s probably more helpful to think it in terms of building a community.

Some authors will actually have a customer avatar – one ideal reader.

This is a fictional person, not unlike the characters in our stories, except that this particular invented person reflects our ideal reader – someone with whom our work is likely to resonate.

It can be easier, and more effective, to “speak to” Charlotte, aged twenty-three, from London, England, than to – well, anyone who happens to be listening.

And, no, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your message won’t reach – and appeal to – Ellie, aged seventeen, or Jason, aged fifty. But Charlotte – or someone very similar to Charlotte – will be much more likely to respond positively to online content, created with her in mind.

Another important aspect of personal branding is consistency.

Of course, when it comes to blogging, and posting on social media, it’s important to be consistent, in the sense of posting regularly.

But consistency also applies to profile images, types of content shared – and beyond that, the colours and fonts used in our graphics. It can take time and experimentation to find the right style, to reflect what we offer.

And, with regard to colour – learning, and keeping in mind, the principles of colour psychology, can be beneficial.

Personally, I’m definitely experimenting with the colours I use, at the moment. In terms of fonts, I use Lucida Calligraphy, Lucida Bright, and occasionally, Lucida Handwriting, on the majority of my online graphics.

Individual projects may need particular, individualised attention – such as, specific branding for each novel or book series.

A novel can have its own identity, and yet, should still be identifiable as part of our brand, as a whole.

The subject of author brands is vast, and I’ve only touched upon it here. I’m still very much in the early stages of figuring this out for myself, but would encourage you to learn as much as you can about personal branding in general. This should help you to gain a deeper understanding of the various aspects, and you can then apply what you’ve learnt to building your author brand online. Oh, and offline too, of course.

Find me on social media.

Planning Blog Posts: Plans and “Rules” — July 30, 2018

Planning Blog Posts: Plans and “Rules”

planning-blog-posts

Some people plan every post.

Others don’t plan at all. In truth, I’ve approached it both ways.

For the most part, I would plan out a writing craft post, or anything more involved.

I tend to use mind maps, and sometimes lists, to help sort out what would otherwise be a chaotic and overwhelming mass of information, in my poor, overloaded brain.

Planning often helps to break up the task of creating a new post, into manageable portions. It makes the process easier.

And yet, I need to contradict myself, on that point. Sometimes it doesn’t make it easier. Sometimes the thought of having to plan a blog post in advance can actually make the task feel daunting.

Sometimes I simply need to write, if I’m going to at all. Which, yes – is what I’m doing right now. Making it up as I go along? Yes, precisely. Scary, right? But actually, not so bad.

And I need to forget all the “rules”, and the fact that posts need to be a particular length, for SEO purposes.

Being honest here – 700 to 1000 words is difficult for me, even if that is viewed as pretty much a minimum. I try not to overthink it though, as posts find their own natural length, and each one is different.

Maybe I can even push aside the thought that what I’m writing might not be valuable to my target audience.

My what? I write for anyone who cares enough to read my words. Oh dear, shouldn’t I have some specific demographic in mind? Well, technically, yes. But, if you’re reading and appreciating my blog posts – hey, you’re my target reader.

Is this all just ramble? Perhaps. If it is, so be it.

Random thoughts and feelings have their place.

Even unplanned blog posts have their place.

Hopefully, more writing craft posts to come, in the near future. Need to start planning…

Keep believing.

Find me on social media.

SEO for Bloggers: The Basics — June 5, 2018

SEO for Bloggers: The Basics

blogging-seo-beginners

Firstly, SEO – or Site Engine Optimisation – is a vast and complex subject.

I’m simply aiming, through this post, to cover, as the title states, the basics. There are many resources out there, that can help you to better understand SEO, and how it can help you to increase traffic to your blog.

When people talk about search engines, they refer primarily to Google.

This is understandable. I mean, we even talk about “Googling” something, making the brand name into its own verb. (“Hoovering”, anyone?)

However, many people, myself included, still use Bing, on occasions.

And there are other search engines to keep in mind, such as Yahoo.

It’s also worth remembering that, in addition to being social media sites, both You Tube and Pinterest are powerful search engines.

If you’re interested in learning more about SEO, specific to Bing, You Tube or Pinterest, that information is out there. Just Google it – or maybe utilise one of those alternative search engines…!

The starting point with SEO is to write quality content, that meets the needs of your target audience.

If you’re not doing that, then SEO can’t really help you.

When you produce poor content, even if you do gain visitors through search, they aren’t likely to remain on your site for long – meaning that you will have a high bounce rate, and search engines won’t be inclined to show your content to future visitors.

Keywords are vital for SEO, and there’s definitely an art to constructing keyword optimised titles.

The process begins with keyword research and, whilst this can potentially be a long and agonising process, for which multiple tools are used – it doesn’t necessarily need to be.

Many people use Google Keyword Planner, and I have occasionally delved into the free version of BuzzSumo.

However, Google itself provides much of the information that you need. Experiment with typing in potential keywords and phrases, and seeing what results come up.

Notice the suggestions that Google’s autosuggest facility offers – as in, when you type in a word or two, and a space – right before you press enter. Sometimes, these suggestions provide invaluable inspiration.

Equally, the related searches section, near the bottom of the page, can give further ideas.

The process of keyword research definitely helps you to come up with fresh ideas for blog posts – in addition to ensuring that you use the best keywords possible, in those posts you’d already planned to write.

Identify relevant long-tail keywords.

These will tend to be phrases, maybe three to five words each, and very specific and targeted.

For example, I write fiction, but the term “fiction” is incredibly broad. “Historical fiction” narrows it down somewhat, and “modern historical fiction”, still further.  Or even, “writing modern historical fiction 1980s”.

The disadvantage of becoming too specific is that there may not be sufficient search volume for a particular phrase. It’s generally advisable to look into both popular and long-tail keywords.

Your keywords, and variations of these, should be included in your headings, and sprinkled throughout your text.

But don’t overdo it. This is known as “keyword stuffing”, and search engines penalise sites that do this.

It isn’t always easy to find the right balance, but what you’re aiming for is a piece of writing that sounds natural. Write with the reader in mind, first and foremost, but with an awareness of search engine requirements. That way, you should be fine.

Optimise your images.

If, like many of us, you have a tendency to name image files poorly, when saving them initially, you will need to alter this. I have often had to do this myself, within WordPress.

The title needs to explain what the image is, even if there is text in the image itself – because search engines can’t “see” your pictures, or read the text within them. Separate individual words with hyphens, in your image titles.

Including variations of your main keyword phrase in the Alt Text can also help with SEO.

Links are important.

There are internal and external links, and both can help with SEO.

Internal linking is linking within your own site. This is great, as it helps visitors to navigate the site – and encourages them to stay on there for longer. In my own posts, including this one, you can see examples of hyperlinks, leading to other pages within this blog.

I do also occasionally include outbound links, to relevant external sites.

It’s worth noting that anchor text – the text in your hyperlinks – is taken into consideration by search engines. If your keywords appear in anchor text, this tends to be positive. Avoid linking a phrase such as “See this post”, because that doesn’t tell search engines anything.

Backlinks from other sites to your own can be invaluable, and people place varying amounts of emphasis, on the importance of gaining backlinks. Links from high authority sites, and/or those relevant to your niche, are definitely the ones that will benefit you most, both in general, and for SEO purposes.

People tend to think of social media and SEO as distinct from one another.

However, links from social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, can be powerful, from an SEO perspective. After all, Twitter and Facebook are clearly high authority sites.

When it comes to Google Plus and Pinterest, the potential SEO benefits are a major advantage of posting on these particular platforms. November 2018 update: With regard to Google Plus, please see my post, written last month, in which I discuss the planned closure of this – in my view, generally underrated – social media platform.

I also touch upon the subject of Tumblr SEO, in my recent post about Tumblr for writers, so that’s another site to consider.

In practical terms, I would suggest posting your own links regularly, on as many social media platforms as can manage. Also, encourage others to share your content, by including facilities to do so, on your blog.

And one more quick point, before I close: Consider the loading speed of your site.

Fast loading sites tend to rank better in search engines. Obviously, from a user perspective, a site that is slow to load is going to cause frustration.

 

SEO is so important, and learning SEO is an ongoing process. I’m very much a beginner myself, but hopefully, this information will be of use to some of you. Keep in mind that this was written in June 2018, and SEO is constantly evolving.

My posts about author blogs, and the benefits of writing evergreen content, might be of interest.

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Tumblr for Writers: Social Media and Your Author Platform — May 28, 2018

Tumblr for Writers: Social Media and Your Author Platform

tumblr-for-writing

December 2018 update: New Tumblr account for Paula Writes

I’ve been focusing more than usual upon Tumblr of late, so thought that I would build upon the information given in my Social Media for Writers post.

But, before we get into Tumblr for writers…

Google Plus

Thank you for the positive feedback and interest, that my recent post about Google Plus received. I am fully invested in this network right now, becoming more active, and improving the quality of my content. I have created more Collections, and am adding to some of my key Collections, as and when, instead of just letting them sit there.

January 2019 update: See my post from October 2018, about the planned closure of Google Plus.

Now, back on topic…

Tumblr: Is it a social media site, or a blogging platform?

Honestly, the answer is both. Tumblr is Tumblr, pretty much. Part of getting it, lies in using it. But it does fall somewhere between being a social media platform, and a blog hosting site. Understanding this is important, because it affects how Tumblr works, and how we should approach using the site, if we would like to make it part of our author platform.

Hashtags are effective on Tumblr, for increasing your reach.

As I mentioned in my Social Media for Writers post, I personally use 2 to 4 hashtags per post. The general ones that I recommend for writers are: #writing, #amwriting, #prose, #poetry, and #lit.

I use queues.

It’s kind of scheduling, except that you don’t have to specifically choose the times for each individual post to be sent. Tumblr takes care of this.

You need to set the systems in place, and let Tumblr know how many posts per day you would like to share, and between which hours. Tumblr will then space them out, and distribute them, within your specified time frame.

When you want to queue a new post, simply use the “drop down” menu, on the button that you would click on to post in real time, and select “Queue”, instead of “Post”.

If you can manage to do so, having between 10 and 30 posts sent daily will help your Tumblr following to grow. Simply decrease the frequency, during periods when you’re unable to maintain this level of activity.

Reblogs – which is what shares are known as on Tumblr – can be included in your queues.

The maximum number of posts that can be held in a queue, at any one time, is 300.

So, content: what to post on Tumblr.

Poetry, and inspirational and writing quotes, tend to be popular, and I focus primarily on these, personally. Links are less so. Don’t expect much traffic to your blog, from links shared on Tumblr. Some of this comes back to the fact that many people are actually using Tumblr as a blogging platform, in its own right. In that way, it might come across as equivalent to going on to a WordPress blog, and telling people to check out your site on Wix or Blogger instead. That said, you occasionally can encourage Tumblr followers to visit external links, and I currently do post links to this blog, on my Tumblr page.

Research Tumblr SEO.

This is a new area to me, and I certainly intend to learn more. A major advantage to the fact that many people are using Tumblr for blogging purposes, is that they then become interested in SEO. In truth, SEO for Tumblr blogs is never likely to compare with SEO for sites on WordPress, or even Blogger. However, there are always strategies for improving SEO rankings, and this applies to Tumblr. Google “Tumblr SEO”, and you’ll find some excellent resources, to build upon what I’ve merely mentioned, in this post.

I hope that this advice will be useful, if you’re hoping to use Tumblr, as part of your author platform. It’s a fun site, and very visual. If you enjoy Tumblr, it’s a great place to connect with other writers.

You’re welcome to follow me on Tumblr, or any of my other social media sites.

If you’ve benefited from this post, or/and know others who could, please consider sharing it, on any of your own social media platforms. I deeply appreciate your support, and sharing my posts, in this way, really helps me out.

Also, I have a posts about Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for writers, which might be of interest.

Author Bloggers: Should Fiction Writers Be Blogging? — March 7, 2018

Author Bloggers: Should Fiction Writers Be Blogging?

fiction-writers-blogging

Should fiction writers blog – or focus purely upon the creation of fiction?

Of course, I’m asking this in the form of a blog post, which in itself, does suggest that I believe in author blogs. Well, yes, I do, but I also recognise many of their associated problems.

So, why should authors blog?

It’s probably one of the best forms of online content marketing, for a start – and content marketing verges upon essential nowadays, for almost all authors.

If you’re a self-published, or independent, author, it’s basically vital, and increasingly, it’s a part of the job for most traditionally published authors, too. Blogging is great for SEO, and gives you something of value to share on social media. Of course, there are other forms of content marketing, which can be equally effective. One of the best is making You Tube videos, and you can definitely build a significant audience this way, whether or not you also choose to have a blog. It’s very much a personal choice, and what you feel comfortable with.

The most obvious reason to blog is that it’s writing.

If you love to write, there’s a strong chance that you’ll enjoy blogging. That’s logical and self-explanatory, right?

Blogging is a chance to explore and share our feelings and opinions, and the process of doing so helps us to develop as writers.

Our posts will also, hopefully, help our readers. It allows us to share our experience and knowledge – and, in a different form, the same passion that drives us to write our fiction. It’s one more way to reach out with our message.

Heard of the KLT factor?

Blogging enables potential readers of our fiction to know, like and trust us, and this is essential for building our author brands. Ultimately, this is what is going to encourage people to buy and read our books.

Now, let’s look at why authors possibly shouldn’t blog.

Basically, blogging can become a major distraction.

The work involved in maintaining an active blog is unavoidably time-consuming. And it’s possible to become obsessed with blogging, to the point where it takes over, and our novels, and other writing projects, are seriously neglected. And yes, I speak from experience.

None of this necessarily means that we can’t blog as writers, but finding the right balance is necessary.

When considering frequency of publication, it’s important to keep in mind that author bloggers are not in the same position as business or lifestyle bloggers. We may not be able to publish on the same sort of schedule as they do – and we probably don’t actually need to.

If blogging simply doesn’t appeal to you, that’s probably an indication that you shouldn’t do it.

As I mentioned before, there are other forms of content marketing, so don’t feel that you have to blog, if you really don’t want to. Your heart won’t be in it anyway, and that will come through, in your writing. It’s also likely that you will abandon your blog, if you’re lacking passion for it, from the start. It’s possible that you actually would enjoy blogging, if you had a specific direction, however – so it might be worth reading on, because I’m going to discuss what you should write about, on an author blog.

Right, so what should an author blog be about?

A point to consider here is, of course, audience requirements.

Who are you, primarily, blogging for: other writers, your novel’s (or novels’) target audience, or both? Of course, there can be some overlap here, but the question remains an important one, and may have an impact upon the direction of your blog.

The classic author blog approach would be to write about writing craft.

This is one of the main areas that I myself do tend to focus upon.

Book reviews are also popular, and would appeal to other writers, but also potentially, readers, who aren’t necessarily writers themselves.

In terms of attracting organic search traffic, book reviews are often successful.

Some authors share samples from their novels.

Others include posts that discuss their characters, or aspects of their works in progress. The possibilities are endless, if you want to get creative.

Because I’ve written poetry, as well as fiction, I’ve included posts about the relevance of modern poetry, the inclusion of fictional elements in poems, and alternative approaches to writing character poems.

I’ve also experimented with various poetry websites and blogs. These can complement our main blogs, if they all link back there. Tumblr does work well for sharing poetry and writing quotes, and might be worth considering, as it falls somewhere between a social media and blogging platform.

Some author bloggers concentrate upon subject areas that they deal with in their fiction, rather than writing about writing, as such.

Personally, I do this, but tend to bring everything back to writing. For example, I have a post, in which I talk about my approach to mental health, in my fiction. Also, I write modern historical fiction, and have a post about that, and another that lists 10 awesome things about the 1980s, the era in which my WIP is set. Interestingly, in my first post on my current blog, about moving to WordPress, I discuss my plans for the blog – and I was by no means restricting myself to writing about writing, at that stage.

Blogging about blogging is an interesting one.

That’s actually what this post is, as is my evergreen content post. Blog posts about blogging will always be popular. Of course, you can always venture into related topics, such as SEO.

And then there’s social media.

Social media is huge for writers, and most author blogs will at least touch upon the subject, in some of their posts. I have my main post about Social Media for Writers, and more specific ones, about using Twitter, Tumblr, and Google Plus, as writers.  Then also, a few other posts that deal with aspects of social media.

For some reason, my post about secret Facebook groups has ended up being (at the time of writing) my most popular post (based upon page views alone) – and that one only came into existence following a negative personal experience that I had, with one particular group.  That led me to take an interest in the subject more generally, and raise the question as to whether these groups should be allowed to exist at all, or whether they should at least be more closely monitored by Facebook.

On the subject of social media, certain platforms work particularly well for bloggers – notably, Pinterest.

If your main social media channel is Twitter, as it is for myself, then you can definitely gain blog visitors, if you aren’t afraid to regularly share links to your posts. On Facebook, blogging groups, such as Bloggers Buzz or The Blogging Breakthrough Community, are probably your best bet – or a more general writing group may be of interest. Google Plus tends to be low maintenance, and will send you at least some traffic. I get very few blog visitors through Tumblr, but find it worthwhile, in other ways, as previously mentioned.

If you’re thinking of becoming an author blogger, I would say to go for it.  It can be rewarding, and I’m always interested to discover more quality author blogs.

My post, discussing the pros and cons of planning your blog posts in advance, may be of interest.

The excellent Standout Books also have a post about author blogs, which comes highly recommended.

Find me on social media.

Evergreen Content: Go Classic and Timeless With Your Blog — February 13, 2018

Evergreen Content: Go Classic and Timeless With Your Blog

timeless-blog-posts

Evergreen content, as the name suggests, is content which will remain fresh and relevant, in the months and years to come.

It doesn’t tend to date and, as such, will be valuable, in the long-term.

In other areas, such as literature and music, we tend to use the term “classic”.

It means essentially the same thing. Some of the poems from Sophie Hannah’s excellent collections, most of which were published in the 1990s, contain cultural references, such as WordPerfect 5.1 and floppy disc trays. Oh dear. That really takes you out of the poems, when reading them today. There are, on the contrary, many poems, created much earlier than the 1990s, which could easily have been written last week. This only works to a point, because there have been significant language changes, but certainly, pieces by Sylvia Plath and Elizabeth Jennings, amongst others, have that classic element: one reason why they remain popular, and stand the test of time.

Okay, so let’s bring the subject back to content creation and, in particular, blog posts – although, of course, this would apply to other forms of online content, such as You Tube videos.

You’ve probably heard that you should be producing posts that are evergreen, as opposed to ones, such as news items, that are time specific. Some people even go as far as to claim that all of your content should be evergreen, with which I don’t entirely agree – and this does also vary, according to your particular niche. However, in general, I would suggest that the majority of your posts should have the classic quality, that will make them potentially worth sharing for years to come.

Evergreen content is good for SEO.

Let’s face it, SEO – ranking on search engines, such as Google and Pinterest – is a consideration. And it’s a long game. The more classics that you have on your blog, the more successful you’re likely to be, in this area. Why, in 2020, would a search engine want to show visitors a news item, from 2004 or 2018, that no longer has much, if any, relevance?

For author bloggers, the good news is that many of the topics that we naturally cover are evergreen.

After all, novelists will always need to name their characters – and, having named them with such care, find methods for killing said characters off. They will always need to create believable dialogue, and describe their stories’ various locations. You get the idea.

So, now that we’ve established what constitutes “evergreen content”, the next step is to write your latest blog post, keeping all of this in mind.

As I mentioned before, a blog doesn’t necessarily need 100% evergreen content, but aim to produce as much of it as possible – particularly if SEO is a priority for you, and it probably should be.

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Why Write About “Depressing” Subjects? — February 5, 2018

Why Write About “Depressing” Subjects?

why-write-depressing

This post was originally published on my previous blog.

So, why would anyone love writing or reading dark fiction?  Or survivors’ poetry?

In December 2017, I did publish slightly revised versions of two other posts: one regarding my personal writing journey, and another about writing modern historical fiction.

I considered also republishing this one, but decided against it, at the time. I didn’t see it as a priority, because I have other posts that cover much of the same ground, including one regarding my approach to mental health issues in my fiction, and another about the process of writing dark fiction. There are also elements that overlap with my post on character development.

However, on balance, I have decided to go ahead, and share it again.

I feel that there is enough here that could potentially be of value, and it doesn’t do any harm, in my opinion, to revisit some of the same subjects, when they are ones that are close to our hearts. So here goes…

I don’t know where to start with the subject, but it’s an important one, so I want to address it.

I know that more people are familiar with my poetry than my fiction, as there isn’t much of the latter “out there”, as yet. The fact is that I deal with dark and controversial subjects throughout all of my writing. I am focusing more upon my fiction here, although much of what I say applies across the board.

Firstly, my fictional characters are not me.

They each contain aspects of myself, to varying degrees, but none are me, as such. That isn’t how fiction works.

Some experiences of certain characters are heavily autobiographical, but there will always be fictionalised aspects, and it shouldn’t be important for a reader to know what is based on my actual life experiences, and what is not.

That’s not to say that readers won’t, or even shouldn’t, be interested – and often, I will be happy to clarify and share my own stories, since I’m a naturally open person.

There is definitely an element of therapy to writing for me, that is essential to my survival – to my sanity, such as it is.

I do write to explore subjects and situations because I’ve been through them myself, or something similar.

Yet, this is not always the case.

I have had, for my writing, to research subjects, including heroin addiction and abortion, and many others, of which I have no direct, personal experience. Is it “depressing”, if you like? Yes, at times. I would say it is deeply painful, and also makes me more compassionate – and, at times, paralysed by my own inability to fully understand, and do justice to the subjects.

The social issues won’t go away by ignoring them.

That said, is it sufficient that many of us attempt to write about them, in our fiction? Isn’t there more that we can and should be doing? Sometimes it isn’t easy to know what to do, but I can’t close my heart or mind to these themes, to which I feel drawn.

I’m so restricted by my own health and circumstances, and I don’t have the answers – only more questions, and they replay, on an endless loop, inside my mind.

I think that the best answer is that I would find it more depressing to ignore the issues, and I don’t know if I will ever achieve what I ideally want to through my work, but I just have to keep going. I hope that this made at least some sense.

Follow me on any or all of my various social media sites, where I regularly share writing related posts.

Social Media for Writers: Building Your Author Platform — February 1, 2018

Social Media for Writers: Building Your Author Platform

social-media-authorsAs writers, we should be building our online platforms.

 

In days gone by, there was no internet, let alone social media, and writers still managed to get their work out there. However, it was much more difficult to do so. Not to use social media nowadays, as a writer, would put you at a serious disadvantage.

 

The question is, where do you start?

 

There are so many social media networks now. Do you need to be on them all? I would say, definitely not. In fact, there are so many alternatives that it’s hard to imagine anyone, who wasn’t a celebrity, with a huge following already, being successful on every platform. And someone in that position would, almost certainly, have dedicated teams to manage their various social media channels. Hardly comparable to the position that most of us are in, when we’re just starting out.

 

Most of us will find our personal favourites, by trial and error.

 

The networks that you actually enjoy are probably, on the whole, the ones to go with. There are, however, some that do tend to be more useful for connecting with other writers, or people from particular target audiences, so it’s worth keeping those factors in mind. I’m still in the early stages, when it comes to building my own platform, but am definitely starting to discover which platforms work for me.

 

 

Although, in this post, I’m primarily discussing social media, I should mention that it’s important to have a home base.

 

By this, I mean a website or blog – an online space, to direct your online traffic to, other than social media. And, no – an Amazon sales page alone isn’t sufficient.  Aim to include as much evergreen content as possible, on your website or blog.

 

 

Personally, my primary channel is Twitter.

 

It’s definitely one of the best for writers, especially from the point of view of connecting with other writers. Post regular, quality content: a combination of links, writing and inspirational quotes, videos, and so on. Ideally, post a mixture of your own content, and that of others, in your niche, or related areas.

 

Definitely, make use of scheduling, as consistency is key with Twitter, but do also ensure that you make time to engage with others on the platform.

 

Checking in daily, or at least most days, will help, although it doesn’t matter, if you can’t always keep this up, as long as you remain active, via scheduled posts – and make the effort to engage, when you do go on.

 

And use hashtags. 1 to 3 per post is the general recommendation.

 

I currently stick with 2. 4 is borderline, but more than that, and your posts will tend to be regarded as “spammy”. But don’t miss out by omitting them altogether, as they help significantly with reach. I recommend using #amwriting or/and #writerslife, on most writing related posts. Others that I regularly use are: #writing, #writingforever, #writetip, and #poetry.

 

Then, of course, there’s Facebook.

 

With even more forthcoming changes, that will impact upon the, already limited, reach of our Facebook pages, many people feel that it’s no longer a viable channel. I personally believe that it’s advisable for writers to have Facebook pages, but not to rely upon them as a primary traffic source. That is, unless you’re in a position to run paid ads.

 

Facebook groups, on the other hand, are a different matter, and probably the way forward, for writers who want to remain active on the site.

 

They are certainly time-consuming but, as long as you love using Facebook, can provide that ideal space, in which to build a community. If you don’t fancy starting up your own group, it might be a good idea to join a few existing ones, and participate in those. My own group, Writing Forever, at the time of writing, is comparatively new, and welcomes new members.

 

Tumblr, a very visual site, has a strong writing community.

 

Poetry, and writing and inspirational quotes, are popular. Tumblr drives very little traffic to my blog, but I find the site inspiring and enjoyable to use, and have received positive feedback on my posts.

 

Hashtags are effective on here, but not exactly the same ones as on other sites, such as Twitter.

 

Try #writing, #lit, #prose, and #poetry. I don’t know whether this is true or not, but I’ve heard that only the first 5 tags register on Tumblr’s search facilities. Beyond that, they only function to search within your own Tumblr page. I tend to use 2-4 tags on Tumblr. I do also find the queueing system – mentioned in my social media scheduling post – invaluable.

 

Google Plus – now, this is an interesting one.

 

In general, people tend to dismiss it, but actually, I really like it, and think that it’s worth taking just a little time to investigate this network. If nothing else, because it’s part of Google, and being active on here does appear to help somewhat with SEO.

 

If you have a Google account – which anyone who has a You Tube channel, or Blogger site, does – you automatically have a Google Plus page.

 

It doesn’t take much effort to update it, now and again.

 

Hashtags do work on Google Plus, but this platform tends towards descriptive, “does what it says on the tin” tags.

 

Many popular Twitter tags don’t work at all. #Writing, #fiction and #poetry will get you further than #MotivationalMonday. Sometimes I do end up using Twitter hashtags, simply because I send a percentage of posts via Buffer to Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus, simultaneously. However, when I post specifically on Google Plus, I opt for more generalised tags.

 

My main advice for using Google Plus successfully is to set up Collections, on topics of interest.

 

These are similar, in a sense, to Pinterest boards – and I’ll talk about Pinterest, in a moment. Collections are shown to other Google Plus users, and you can potentially end up with additional subscribers to individual Collections, who may not even follow your account, as a whole. They’re probably one of the best ways to get your posts seen on the site, and so easy to set up.

 

Communities may also help, but these are equivalent to Facebook groups, and potentially more time-consuming.

I don’t really have enough experience to comment upon their benefits or otherwise, but they may be worth exploring.

09/10/2018 update: I was sad to learn that Google Plus is apparently closing next year, as a consumer website.

 

I more or less ignored Pinterest for years, but lately, I’ve become obsessed.

 

I’m building my Pinterest boards, and learning more about the platform via various blog posts and You Tube videos. And yes, You Tube is awesome, and coming next on my list.

 

As for Pinterest – well, I’m exploring it, and loving it, but am very much in the early stages.

 

It’s more of a visual search engine, rather than a conventional social media site, and I’ve heard amazing things about Pinterest, for driving website traffic. That said, I’m not using any sort of scheduling, Boardboaster or Tailwind, and haven’t got into group boards either, so can’t advise on any of that.  August 2018 update: I still pin manually, but should point out that Boardboaster has recently closed down. I do now have some experience with group boards. My Pinterest post elaborates.

 

July 2018 update: See my recent post about using Pinterest, as part of your author platform.

 

You Tube, as I mentioned, is awesome.

 

I watch many You Tube videos. I comment on a decent number. What I don’t do is to make them myself. Well, I did upload a couple, towards the end of 2017. Short clips of our pet cockatiels. But honestly, if you’re confident enough to make writing videos on You Tube, go for it. You Tube also, in common with Pinterest, has the bonus of being a powerful search engine. It’s a great platform for writers – probably one of the best. It’s also an excellent resource for research.

 

So, how about Instagram?

 

Or Linked In, Snapchat, Reddit, Stumble Upon – and all the others I’ve missed? Basically, yes – you can use any of them, as a writer. I simply can’t advise on them, because I lack experience on the platforms.  That said, I’m becoming more active on Instagram right now.  Oh, and I’m also on Flickr – although not on my original account, which I’ve unfortunately been unable to access, in recent years.

July 2018 update: See my recent Instagram for Writers post, as I do now regularly use Instagram, as part of my author platform.

 

There are so many options out there. Hopefully, you will find at least one or two that work for you.  Also, do take a look at my post about how to build your author brand. And there is now a new Social Media for Writers 2019 post, which may be of interest.

 

Keep believing.

 

Find me on social media.

 

 

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