Where My Blog and Novel Stand

Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

 

Janet’s Writing Blog

Since writing Friday’s blog post (Getting Blog Traffic in 2017,) I’ve decided to change my routine and just blog on Mondays. When I read that blogging once-a-week was ideal for someone trying to establish their brand, I thought, “That’s not for me. I like blogging twice-a-week.” I couldn’t get the theory out of my head. By late Friday night I had decided to start blogging just once-a-week.

I’ve chosen Mondays. I wanted to choose Tuesdays, but for those of us who manage the WordPress.com blogs we read by getting them in a weekly format, they arrive on Monday. If I wait until Tuesday to blog, some readers won’t receive my post until the following Monday. That’s not good. I’ll try early Mondays (right after midnight on Sundays) for a while and see how that works. The great thing about a blog is that the blogger makes up her own rules. My kind of activity!

The Spanish Coin

Something happened on Saturday that told me I’d made the right decision about my blog. Or, perhaps what happened on Saturday came about as the result of the stress relief Friday night’s decision gave me. Follow?

If you’ve been following my blog for very long, you know I’ve been working on a novel manuscript with the working title of The Spanish Coin for more than a decade. (I’m not only a slow reader, I’m a slow writer!) Several months ago I discovered some facts that made it clear that I needed to make major changes in my historical novel. Another name for that is REWRITE, as in START OVER! After 10 years of work, this realization knocked the wind out of my sails. I have struggled over this for about three months – maybe longer. (It feels like three years.)

I knew I had to change the names and location of my novel. I believed I could keep the working title, The Spanish Coin, but many of the details of the story and perhaps most importantly, the climax, had to change. After kicking around ideas for weeks, on Saturday I finally settled on a new location for the story. I changed the names of most of the characters, and I changed the year it happened. Those decisions freed me up to start writing the new outline. By the time I turned off the computer at 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 25, I had written 300 words of backstory, more than 2,500 words of outline, and 250 words of character sketches. I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders!

Saturday was just the beginning, but I can’t tell you how invigorated I feel knowing that I have started the rewrite. I’m optimistic about what I will get accomplished this week!

Until my next blog post on July 3

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading The Secret Speech, by Tom Rob Smith.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time and feel as optimistic about your work in progress as I do mine.

Janet

Getting Blog Traffic in 2017

Tomorrow is my blog’s 7th blogaversary. My first blog post was on June 24, 2010. It doesn’t seem like I’ve been blogging for seven years. There’s a good reason for that. In 2010 I only blogged four times. I blogged once in 2011. In 2011 I blogged only seven times. It wasn’t until July 7, 2014 that I started blogging on a regular basis. That was the month before the publication of my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I finally felt like I had something to write about!

 

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Happy 7th Blogaversary to Janet’s Writing Blog!

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I am constantly learning more about blogging. You may have noticed that I’ve started trying to write catchier blog post titles. I’m also trying to limit my post titles to five words. I read somewhere that’s ideal, but now I don’t remember why. Seems like it has something to do with showing up in a Google search.

MostlyBlogging.com

Janice Wald’s blog post on June 10, 2017 (http://www.mostlyblogging.com/generate-better-traffic) said something that made me stop in my tracks and reread a couple of paragraphs. The post was written by Raymond Crain, who works for E2M, a social media marketing agency based in San Diego.

In a nutshell, Mr. Crain said that blogging daily is out and blogging good content is in. Yay! I don’t have to feel guilty for only blogging twice-a-week!

He said Google now puts more emphasis on the “intent” of the searcher and the “quality” of the blog post. If you’re blogging for your own enjoyment, posting daily is fine, but if you’re trying to get your brand out there and drive more traffic to your blog you might want to read Mr. Crain’s article. This was just one of his five recommendations.

A Writer’s Path blog

Guest post contributor Shelley Widhalm said on Ryan Lanz’s A Writer’s Path blog on June 13, 2017 (https://ryanlanz.com/2017/06/13/why-blogging-is-important-for-writers/) that blogs are here to stay, but that it is quality and not quantity that’s important when establishing your brand and your credentials as a blogger worth reading. Therefore, there is more to blogging than attaining high search engine optimization (SEO.)

Ms. Widhalm stated, “Research shows that blogs should be posted once a week on the same day of the week . . . .”

She did not cite that specific research, but I will take the statement under consideration and continue to watch to see what becomes standard practice. Blogging is a creative outlet for me, so I won’t promise to conform to recommended schedules.

What do you think?

Would you prefer that I only blog once-a-week? I might give that some thought.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have good book to read. I’ve just finished reading Camino Island, by John Grisham and Put the Cat in the Oven Before You Describe the Kitchen, by Jake Vander Ark. (More on that in July when I blog about the books I read in June.)

If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.

Janet

6 Things Learned about Google+

In my January 20, 2017 blog post My 2017 Writing Plan of Action, I said that I needed to give Google+ a fair chance. I thought it was one more platform I could use to establish my brand as a writer.

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Photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

When I did the research for my April 22, 2017 blog post S is for Social Media, I learned that being active on Google+ will help people find me on the Google search engine. Actually, I did not learn that. I stated it in my blog post but promptly forgot it. When I remember to, I put my blog posts on Google+.

With today’s blog post in mind, on May 18, 2017 and several times since then, I took another look at my account on Google+ and learned some things:

(1)  Lo and behold, I hadn’t put links to my blog, my website, or my Twitter name in my profile. Duh! That was an easy fix.

(2)  I learned that when my novel gets published, I can only give it one plug on Google+.

(3)  I explored the “communities” on Google+ and joined several: Writers’ Blogs, Read Banned Books,  Writers’ Coffeehouse, and Self-Publishing Your Book. In addition, I’m following WordPress.

  • Writers’ Blogs should be a place where I can post my blogs about writing or reading, and I can find and connect with other writers with blogs. So far, I haven’t made any connections with other writing bloggers through this Google+ community. I’ve seen pictures of cats and a number of blogs about the TV sitcom “Big Bang Theory.” I’m having to look too hard and long to find posts about writing blogs.
  • The WordPress community should be a place where I can learn how to better use my blog and the features of WordPress.com. So far, I haven’t found what I need.
  • Banned Books is where I should be able to discuss banned books with other readers; however, from what I’ve seen so far, most posts are about anything but books – banned or otherwise.
  • Writers’ Coffeehouse is where I should be able to ask questions about the writing process or specific problems I’m having as I rewrite my novel, and join in conversations started by other writers. There seem to be more poetry posts on there than fiction writing, so I’m still not sure this is the place for me.

(4)  There are communities for just about any interest you can think of. If you don’t find one you’re looking for, create it!

(5)  I hate to be negative, but I think Google+ communities are going to be more work for me than they’re worth. It’s just not my cup of tea. (Maybe I shouldn’t post that on Google+.)

(6)  On the positive side, I am following “Writing Tips” by Rob Bignell, Editor on Google+. He seems to put a lot of helpful articles on there to help writers.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading The Things We Keep, by Sally Hepworth.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.

Janet

What is a Conversion Habit and Do I Need One?

I received an e-mail on May 4 from ProBlogger.com with a link to a blog post about conversion habits. I’m not a theology student. I didn’t have a clue what “conversion habits” were or if I needed to try to work them into my life. I didn’t know if a conversion habit was a good habit or a bad habit. ProBlogger.com is a trusted source, so I clicked on the link to learn more.

https://problogger.com/the-9-conversion-habits-of-the-worlds-most-successful-bloggers/

The blog was written by a guest blogger, John Stevens. Mr. Stevens, according to the blog, “is the CEO of Hosting Facts, a startup that helps consumers make data-backed decisions when choosing web hosts. He is also a frequent contributor to WebsiteSetup where he helps businesses set up their website.”

Used by the world’s greatest bloggers

The best I could tell, conversion habits are practices the world’s greatest bloggers use to convert a blog reader into a customer. Since I have nothing to sell at the moment, other than copies of my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, three Morrison genealogies compiled by my sister and me, and several privately-printed-on-demand booklets I wrote about Rocky River Presbyterian Church history, I don’t think I need to expend my limited energy working on conversion habits. It’s not like I’m trying to get my books on the New York Times Bestseller List!

I didn’t really need anything to add to my “to-do” list, so I was relieved that I don’t need to be bothered with conversion habits – at least for now.

(Warning:  shameless plug — Incidentally, if you’re interested in purchasing one of my books, visit https://www.janetmorrisonbooks.com or visit your favorite independent bookstore.)

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The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina on the shelf at Lake Junaluska Bookstore.

That didn’t mean I didn’t keep reading the blog post, though. I am a curious person, and the post’s title promised me nine conversion habits. I got down to the ninth habit, thinking I was almost finished. I could delete the e-mail and go to bed. But no. The ninth conversion habit was, “They use prominent CTAs.”

What the heck is a prominent CTA?

Turn the light back on. There will be no sleeping tonight until I figure out what a prominent CTA is. I read on. The first sentence asked me what color my CTAs were. That sounded like a personal question to me, and I felt myself blush. Never fear! I surmised that you want your CTA to be a contrasting color to that of your logo.

The blog post went on to talk about the Von Restorff effect, which is also called the “isolation effect.” Not being a student of marketing, I wasn’t familiar with that effect. Mr. Stevens explained it as follows:  “this principle states that when confronted with multiple stimuli (in our case, CTAs), the stimuli that stand out the most wins our attention.”

Regaining my composure, I kept reading. The next sentence informed me that “your CTAs have a big impact on your conversion rates.” Since I don’t feel the need for conversion rates, I’m once again tempted to delete the e-mail and call it a night. I keep reading, though, because I still don’t have a clue what a CTA is, and I try to learn something new every day – even if it appears to be useless information. I read on.

Higher CTR

Mr. Stevens continued with, “Since your CTAs lead visitors to subscribe to your newsletter, download your eBooks or buy your courses, it makes sense to optimize it for higher CTR.” I don’t know what a CTR is, but it’s far too late in the evening to chase after that rabbit. After all, I need something to do tomorrow, right? (No – I’m too curious. Google search. CTR is currency transaction report. That’s all I need to know about that.)

Study results

I learned that a study revealed that changing the color of CTAs resulted in an increase of 21% in a blog’s conversion rate. That sounded impressive, so I looked at the illustrations. The best I could tell, a CTA is a clickable button that says something like, “Get started now!”

But what is a CTA?

A search on Google, “What is a CTA?” brought up the definition of a computed tomography angiography. I wasn’t just in the wrong pew, I was in the wrong church! Another search choice was “What is a CTA on a website?” Bingo!

The answer that popped up when I clicked on that option was, “In web design, a CTA may be a banner, button, or some type of graphic or text on a website meant to prompt a user to click it, and continue down a conversion funnel.”

That’s all?

My response to that explanation was, “That’s all?” (Peggy Lee should be singing, “Is That All There Is?” right about now! For those of you who don’t know who Peggy Lee was, that song was a big hit for her in 1969.) I just spent 10 minutes trying to learn what a CTA is and it’s just a button? I can see why they call it a CTA. That’s a lot more impressive than “button.”

The letdown

I feel like I’ve been on a wild goose chase. Tomorrow will I still remember what conversion habits and CTAs are? It makes me wonder if universities now offer a Bachelor of Science degree in Blogging. Are such courses as Conversion Habits 101 and CTAs 101 included in the required curriculum? Can one minor in CTR?

This stuff gives me a headache. All I want to do is write my novel and finish reading my current library book so I can start reading the next one.

All jokes aside, Mr. Stevens received wonderful comments and praise for his blog post. It was well-written, well-illustrated, and apparently contained useful information for people who are in the business of selling a product through their blog. I’m just not there yet. I highly recommend the blog post to anyone who is marketing a tangible product or something intangible such as a writing course.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.

Janet

W is for Wufoo.com

I’m feeling my age today, after going up into the attic on Tuesday. Not a good idea for someone of my age with CFS/ME and fibromyalgia. That said, Wednesday wasn’t a good day for me to try to figure out something new on the computer. There’s really not a good day for me to do that. I should only attempt such tasks when I’m at the top of my game. With no such days on the horizon and needing to blog about something starting with the letter “W,” I forged ahead.

What starts with W?

On the 23rd day of the 2017 A to Z Blog Challenge, the featured letter is “W.” I’ve struggled over what to write about today. There are so many possibilities, including Why I Write, Writing, Webinars I’ve Attended, Wufoo.com, or the Where Writers Win website.

W is for Wufoo.com

Wednesday was the day I could finally sit down at the computer and try to figure out how Wufoo.com could integrate with MailChimp on WordPress.com so I could have a mailing list. In the event I ever want to announce something to my readers before or without making a public announcement, I need an e-mail mailing list.

Other bloggers have such lists, so how difficult can it be, right?

I spent a couple of hours on Wednesday afternoon working my way through the simple instructions on Wufoo.com trying to set up a way for me to add a sign-up form on my blog for a mailing list. As often happens, the list of “do this and you will see that” suckered me into thinking I could do. I improvised when I “did this and I didn’t see that.” I set up an account. I created a form. I filled in blanks. I wrote little notes to my readers telling them I would never share their information with anyone. I marked the parts of the form that are not optional. I went to WordPress.com and cut and pasted the Wufoo code so it would show up as the third widget down in my blog’s sidebar. I thought I had everything accomplished, but on Wednesday night as I schedule this blog post for 6:50 a.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, April 27, no such sign-up form has appeared on my blog.

It’s my fault

I in no way blame Wufoo.com for this. It is obviously an error on my part. It has been another frustrating day in the life of someone who is technologically-challenged and just wants to be a writer.

“I’d rather do it myself!”

One day I will have to give up on setting this mailing list up myself, but I will not give up on the mailing list. I’m trying not to bother my niece’s husband with this request. He set up my website, and I’m sure he can do this for me, too. I am reminded that as a very small child, one of my favorite things to say was, “I’d rather do it myself!” Apparently, that’s still true.

A to Z Blog Challenge

I’m delighted to note that there are only three days remaining in the A to Z Blog Challenge. Topics for “Y” and “Z” are still up for grabs, in case anyone has any suggestions for me. I’m looking for words starting with “Y” and “Z” that have something to do with writing for my blog on April 29 and 30, 2017.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.

Janet

S is for Social Media

This is the 19th day of the A to Z Blog Challenge, so I decided to write about Social Media. (19 letters down, seven to go!) Those of you who have been following my blog for several months know that being social on media is not my favorite pastime. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but writers are pushed from all sides to embrace social media. I can’t seem to escape it.

“The Personalities of Social Media,” by Jenny Hanson

I read an excellent blog post about writers and social media on April 19, 2017, “The Personalities of Social Media” at http://writersinthestormblog.com/2017/04/social-media-101-lets-talk-personalities/.

Jenny Hanson wrote “The Personalities of Social Media” blog post. I don’t want to steal her thunder, so I invite you to read her post if you wish.

Reading that Writers in the Storm blog post clarified for me why certain social media outlets appeal to me more than others, and it gave me permission to stop worrying about LinkedIn. Whew! It was worth the read just to learn that.

LinkedIn and Goodreads

Ms. Hanson wrote, “Yes, if you are looking for a job or a business contact, you need to be on LinkedIn, but readers tend to hang out at Goodreads and in the six programs mentioned below.”

What I learned from Ms. Hanson’s post is that social media fall into two camps:  (1) ones that require immediate response and (2) ones that you don’t have to respond to immediately.

2 categories of social media

Of the major social media platforms, Ms. Hanson says that Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat fall into the second category. They seem to suit my personality better than the ones that are included in the first category (Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.)

I’m not by nature a phone person. People whose cell phones are a permanent extension of their hands do not understand me any more than I understand them. Let’s just agree to accept each other and not be judgmental.

Category One

  • Facebook

I enjoy some aspects of Facebook, but it is something that I usually check once every day or two. Apparently, I’m not using it correctly. I’m sorry, but I really don’t care to see a picture of what you ate for lunch. (I’m trying not to judge.) I like it because it provides a way for me to know when my friends have a joy or concern they want to share. It provides a way for me and friends with whom I share political views to commiserate.

  • Twitter

I get on Twitter once- or twice-a-day, which means I’m not using it correctly either. I have made some interesting connections with other writers and several published authors via Twitter, but I might not be putting enough original information in my Tweets to keep those relationships going. Twitter gives me a way to publicize my blog, and I have gained many blog followers as a result.

  • Google+

I haven’t been active on Google+. I haven’t seen it as a good fit for me; however, after reading Ms. Hanson’s post, I have a better understanding of how it is a powerful way to increase my search ranking on Google. I guess I need to give Google+ a fair chance.

Category Two

  • Instagram

I have an Instagram account, but I really haven’t gotten excited about it. Ms. Hanson’s blog post includes links to two articles about Instagram that I definitely need to read. I’m sure my hesitancy to use Instagram stems from my strained relationship with my cell phone.

  • Snapchat

It probably goes without saying that I haven’t even investigated Snapchat. Apparently, I need to if I want to attract a younger demographic to my writing. It’s visual, and it’s only there for 24 hours.

  • Pinterest

I really enjoy Pinterest. It is a good way for me to find articles about the art and craft of writing. I have set up several boards on my Pinterest account where I Pin the articles I like and think other writers who follow me might benefit from reading. I have a variety of boards on Pinterest, ranging from writing to recipes to quilting to politics. It’s a way for me to show my personality and varied interests. Pinterest can take up as much of your time as you will give it. One thing leads to another until sometimes I don’t remember where I started. My searches on Pinterest never disappoint me.

In closing

Thank you, Jenny Hanson, for presenting information about the various social media platforms in a way that helped me to recognize why some platforms appeal to me more than others. And thank you for helping me to understand why Google+ is an important platform for writers.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. (I’m back to Bittersweet, by Colleen McCullough after putting it aside so I could read In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom, by Yeonmi Park.)

If you’re a writer, I hope you have rewarding writing time.

Janet

K is for Klout.com

No, that’s not misspelled.

Settling on a K-word

My mind works in mysterious ways. For about three weeks I’ve tried to think of a word that starts with a “K” that had something to do with writing for this the 11th day of the 2017 A to Z Blog Challenge. I was still pretty much at a loss until a few minutes ago. I wasn’t even thinking about the blog challenge or the letter “K” earlier tonight when I visited a website that I look at two or three times a month. The site begins with the letter “K,” but even as I bounced around on it I didn’t have that “aha moment.”

I left the site and went on my merry way to answer a few e-mails and Tweet my thanks to several people who started following me today on Twitter. In the midst of that, my subconscious mind kicked in and said, “Wake up, Janet! You can write about Klout.com!”

I learned about Klout last September, when I got serious about having a brand and a social media presence as a writer. The website has a way to measure one’s influence on social media. I understand they use an algorithm to do this. (Algorithms are above my pay grade, so I’ll just leave it at that.)

A little explanation of Klout.com

Klout looks at how many social networks a person is active in and then gives a score of 1 to 100. You can imagine how daunting it was on September 19, 2016 when I checked my score on Klout for the first time and discovered I had a 10.

Klout immediately became a great tool for me. It gave me added incentive to be more active on social media in order to improve my score. I read that an average Klout score is 40. A score of 50 or above is considered very good. A score above 63 is fantastic. Only five percent of users score 63 or above.

Starting off at 10 points, I had my work cut out for me. Those of you who have been following my blog since last September know that I have complained and struggled and complained some more about social media. It’s not my favorite endeavor and I feel like it consumes too much of my time. I’m trying to hang in there, though, and it is getting a little easier with time and practice.

My results

It has been gratifying to see my efforts pay off. My Klout score rose to 16 by the end of September and 32 by the end of October. It was surprising how much my Klout score encouraged me to keep working at it.

By early December I reached and then surpassed the average score of 40 by three points. My score has held steady between 42 and 45 since then. Klout has proclaimed me to be an expert in writing and in reading. That’s laughable, but I’ll take it.

In conclusion

It costs nothing to sign up for Klout.com. It has mixed reviews online. There are certainly other analytics services that get more into the nitty-gritty of measuring the impact or influence one is having on social media. For a service that is free, though, I can vouch for the fact that it has provided positive feedback to me since last September – feedback that pushed me to make a conscious effort every day to keep working on my social media skills.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.

Janet

Disclaimer:  I am getting nothing from Klout.com for writing about the website.