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Writing Journal 7: Fiction, Blogging and Coaching

Writing Journal 7: Fiction, Blogging and Coaching

My writing journal for Monday, August 18, 2014. All the entries are here.

Today promises to be a busy day. Lots to write, and a couple of phone coaching sessions at the end of the day.

Fiction and nonfiction: ending one project, and starting another

Up at 5AM, as usual. Wrote 1200 words of the novella this morning. Just another couple of scenes to write. I went over the first couple of chapters this morning, and had to stop myself reading. I’ll create a MOBI file of the novel tomorrow, so that I can read it when I’m away from my work computer.

Then I drew the first cluster diagram for the next novella in this series – there’s a theme for the series, and I want my subconscious mind to start thinking about this new book as I wrap up the current one..

Whenever I reach the mid point of a project, I’m eager to get the project done. With only two novellas to complete, I’m well past the midpoint on this project. The next two stories will be shorter. At least, that’s what I’m hoping.

After a quick email message to my fiction client, I start on the new nonfiction book for the series I’ve ghostwritten for a client.

This client hasn’t commissioned me to write any more books in the series, however I know that he wants me to write several more.

So last night, while thinking about the rest of this year, and 2015, I decided that this will be the last book I ghostwrite for him. If he offers me a commission for the next book, I’ll set him up with someone else to  complete the series.

I’m committed to making 2014 the final year I take on so many ghostwriting projects.

Last year, I had every intention of cutting back on my ghostwriting commissions. However, long writing experience has trained me to grab great projects when I can. So I kept grabbing, which is fine. However, it means that I’m doing much too much “work done for hire”. The fees for the ghostwritten materials are excellent. When I see authors like Russell Blake building wonderful careers, I know that I should be focusing on my own fiction and nonfiction.

I’m resisting working on my own materials, and it’s frustrating.

When you meet resistance, ask yourself why

Resistance is always interesting for writers. I think I know what’s behind mine — fear, as always. When you accept commissions, you’re not risking anything. Enough musing on my psyche. Onward with the nonfiction project.

I write a short description of the project, and create chapter documents in Scrivener. Then I write an introduction of 600 words.

This is odd. Usually I complete a book, then write the introduction. Not to worry, I’ll go with it. Now I’ve started it, I want to get it done. I create a cluster diagram for the first chapter, and write some research questions.

Breakfast for Honey, and then for me. No walking today. It’s raining and windy. Yoga later.

Email and blogging

Julia’s arrived, so we have a coffee while going over this week’s projects. Then I work on blogging.

Next, a dip into social media, and more blogging, for the freelance writing blog.

And it’s lunch time. No time to go out to lunch, so Julia and I chat and read social media. It’s still raining.

I’ve got some administrative chores to get through, so I turn on Spotify and resist the temptation to poke myself in the eye with a sharp pencil. I resist doing essential housekeeping chores as long as I can. Very immature behavior. :-) I tell myself to stop complaining, turn on the timer, and stick it out for two sessions.

Two sessions done, and I stick with it for another session — that’s almost two hours. Once I get started, it’s easy to keep going. I know this, but procrastinate anyway.

Time to return phone calls.

Then ten minutes of yoga.

Authentic writing — project revision

I spend two timer sessions on this. I’ve removed a couple of the exercises, and added another couple.

Late afternoon, and I have two phone coaching sessions for which to prepare. I need to study a student questionnaire from a new personal coaching student, and prepare my ideas for another student’s book marketing project.

The phone coaching sessions go well. The students are enthusiastic, and so am I.

It’s late, so I do a quick review of the day. It’s been a busy and productive day – I broke the back of the administrative chores. My word count totals aren’t as high as I’d hoped, but tomorrow is another day. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

3 Blogging Tips for Startup Businesses

3 Blogging Tips for Startup Businesses

You’ve started a business, or you want to. Consider creating a blog. Your blog can help draw attention to you and your new business. Your blog also builds credibility; this is valuable as a long-term strategy.

The longer you’ve been blogging, the more people can learn about you and the way your business operates: it’s all there on your blog. And it’s your choice how transparent you’ll be. Buffer is completely transparent:

When we announced it, Joel, our co-founder, emailed everyone and said, “I truly believe that transparency breeds trust, that’s one of the key reasons for this adjustment.”

Consider the “pull” factor of your blog too. It’s inbound marketing, and helps to you to inform your customers:

A blog is the single best way to attract new visitors to your website. In order to get found by the right prospective customers, you must create educational content that speaks to them and answers their questions.

Before the Web came along, I ran a business. The customers had questions. Many, many questions. I spent my days on the phone. Of course, I couldn’t have imagined a blog in those days, but a blog would have cut my phone-time by 95 per cent.

I’ve been working with several entrepreneurs. Since I love blogging, the advice to “start a blog” comes naturally. Many kinds of businesses can benefit from blogs, especially small businesses. Your blog, combined with your social media presence, helps you to network.

These blogging tips work for start-ups, especially if you’re a one or two person operation at the moment, or if you’re working with a far-flung global team. Blogging is instant publishing. Potentially, your audience numbers in the millions. Your startup’s first customers may be in that audience.

1. Create Your Business Plan First.

Got a business plan? Create an informal one, if you haven’t done so already. The more you know about your goals, the better. Your plan will not only reveal what kind of image you want to project, but also who your customers will be. Create a SWOT analysis too. It will surprise you.

If you’ve never created a business plan, just answer the “Typical questions addressed by a business plan for a start up venture” in the Wikipedia article. If you decide you need funding, and want to create a formal plan at any stage, this rough plan will be a big help.

2. Decide on Your Blogging Persona, and a Choose a Couple of Audience Personas.

You need to decide who you’ll be as a blogger. What image will you project? Be yourself of course, but decide how much personal information you’ll share. If your blog’s all-business, you won’t be talking about your partner, or the movie you saw last night.

Choose a couple of audience personas too. These are the people for whom you’ll be creating content. Build a brief profile of your typical customer. If you want investors, build an investor profile too.

Here’s Hubspot on buyer personas:

Buyer personas are holistic ideals of what your customers are really like, inside and out. Personas encompass the goals, challenges, pain points, common objections to products and services, as well as personal and demographic information shared among all members of that particular customer type. Your personas are the people around whom your whole business is built.

Give each persona a name. I like to start persona profiles as if I’m talking about a real person: “Bill is 45 years old. He’s been married for 16 years. He has two teenage children…” etc.

When you’re crating content, you’re speaking directly to Bill, or to another persona you’ve created.

3. Your Blog Is Your Social Media Hub: Keep Content (Mainly) on Your Own Website.

Look on your blog as your startup’s marketing launchpad. Add your blog’s URL to your social media profiles. To repeat: add your blog’s URL to your social media profiles. This is vital. Before someone decides to follow you on Twitter, or circle you on Google+, they’ll check out your profile.

And speaking of Google+, join Google+, and visit your Google Dashboard occasionally, to keep track of your activities.

End of digression…. :-)

You’ll network on social media, but keep the bulk of your content on your website. When someone visits your website, they can read your content, and once your business has launched, they can do business with you. It makes sense to keep your good stuff where it will do you good, rather than sprinkled across the Web.

So there you have it.Three blogging tips for your new business. Good luck with your launch. :-)

3 Blogging Tips for Startup Businesses

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

WordPress 3.8 “Parker” Is Here, And It’s Gorgeous

WordPress 3.8 “Parker” Is Here, And It’s Gorgeous

If you’re a WordPress blogger, you’ve been waiting for 3.8 codenamed “Parker” with impatience. It’s finally here, right on time, and it’s gorgeous. Get the details of the changes here.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the new dashboard is sleeker. You can set the color scheme, choosing from eight styles when you first update to 3.8. If you want to change the admin color scheme after that, as I did, go to your profile page to change it.

Widgets under control: yippee!

With older versions of WordPress, widgets were a pain to manage and install. So much so, that whenever I thought of making changes, I avoided it, unless the change I wanted to make was absolutely essential. Dragging widgets to where you wanted them, even with a large monitor, was frustrating.

Now you can click on a widget, and a menu pops up, so you can add it to the widget area you want. Much more relaxing.

New theme: Twenty Fourteen, a magazine theme

I’ve been eager to try out the new default WordPress theme, Twenty Fourteen. I love Twenty Thirteen, which I use on this blog, and on my freelance writing blog.

The big benefit of using default WordPress themes? Fewer headaches. Over the years, I’ve used many commercial themes, and while some were wonderful, there were always headaches.

The holidays will be perfect for testing Twenty Fourteen for those of my blogging clients who want a good magazine theme.

So, what are you waiting for? WordPress 3.8 is here. Head for your blog’s dashboard, and install it. You’ll be enthralled. I can’t wait to explore and discover more of the changes to our beloved WordPress.

If you’re not yet a blogger,  and are wondering how to get started, here you go: Blogging Maestro helps you to become a top blogger.

, and on Twitter: @angee

Blogging To Books: Can You Turn Your Blog Into a Book?

Blogging To Books: Can You Turn Your Blog Into a Book?

You’re blogging. You’ve got a blog, and would like to turn it into a book. I’m coaching two writers who are doing that.

One writer’s been blogging for over a year. He’s using his blog as the basis for his book, revising and updating posts. The other writer hasn’t create a blog yet; he’s blogging his book as he goes along.

Over the past weeks, I’ve received many questions about turning blogs into books, so let’s look at a couple of options.

1. You’ve got great content, which would make a book.

Gina Trapani of Lifehacker was approached by literary agents on the strength of the Lifehacker blog:

That’s the power of a consistent blog that builds its readership over time: instead of my pitching a book to an agent, and agent came to me. Since that initial contact by David (who did become my agent), SIX other literary agents contacted me asking about a Lifehacker book.

You don’t have to wait around for literary agents. Compile some of your content into an ebook. Ebooks are forever:

Trading hours for dollars, no matter how profitable those hours may be, is a dead end. The words you write are paid for and done.

When you self-publish, on the other hand, you’re investing in your future. You may make just a few dollars initially, but if you write good books, in areas which are selling, your income will steadily rise. Your books will sell for years.

Consider this: your enthusiastic readers, if they love your blog, will be only too eager to read your book.

As Gina says in her articles, find a theme which will work as a book, then use your blog posts to create your ebook.

2. You want to write a book, but… it’s scary.

I love writing books. Here’s why: I’ve been doing it for years. It’s natural to me. If you do something often enough, it becomes easy. In a sense, of course. Writing is a slog, but once you know what you’re doing, you can have a lot of fun with it.

That’s a clue: writing your first book is scary. I’ve told the story many times: when I wrote my first novel, I sat at my typewriter day after day, with tears running down my face. My hands shook as I rolled two sheets of paper, with carbon paper sandwiched between them, onto the platen.

All these years later, those memories amaze me. I was a real glutton for punishment.

If you’re scared too, why not sneak up on your book? Blog. In New Blogger? Why Free Services Are Good For Newbies, I said:

… your blog helps you to write every day – this is a wonderful habit… and it’s harder to develop than you might think. Of course, on the other side of the coin, you have those writers who don’t want to write “for free”. If you feel this way, consider that you can DO STUFF with your blog — why not turn it into a book, or a series of books?

Writing a blog post is a lot less scary than sitting down at your computer, and thinking to yourself: “OK, Self. Let’s write a book.”

Try it. Blog. Sneak up on your book, by blogging. Before you know it, you’ll have a mass of material which will make a wonderful book, or ebook.

 

, and on Twitter: @angee

Blogging Without Fear: 5 Easy Forms of Content You Can Create FAST

5 Easy Forms of Content You Can Create FAST

Scared of blogging? If blogging terrifies you because you have no idea how you’ll feed the content beast, relax. It’s easier than you think. All you need is a little inspiration, and a dash of creativity.

Let’s look at five easy forms of content you can create fast, and without breaking a sweat.

1. Gimme a tip: everyone loves tip posts, so share your tips with abandon.

This is a tip post. I create them because I’m a sucker for ALL tip posts, especially if I know an area well. Curiosity drives clicks – readers want to find that single GEM amongst your tips which will help them.

2. Tips and more tips: expand on your tip posts with additional tips.

Written one tip post?

Write another one. I could write another tip post to follow this one: Another 5 Easy Forms of Content You Can Create FAST. And I could write another one after that. Tip posts are fast to create. You know what the post’s structure is; just write your tips.

Here’s the benefit of writing tips in an area: you can collect all your tips into a HUGE “everything you want to know about Topic X” tip post. An example: 101 Easy Forms of Content You Can Create FAST.

Then, I could publish the “everything” tips as an ebook. Or chop them up and create videos from them.

The tips magic needn’t stop there. You can break out each one of your tips in any post into:

  • A new blog post, expanding on just one tip – if your original post contained five tips, you could break out the post into five articles. Or more.
  • Social media snippets. You can get lots more value of each tip, sharing more insights on each tip on social media.

Think of each tip post you create as a fruit tree. You can pick lots of fruit from the trees in the orchard of your blog.

3. Keep it short, sweetie: just the facts and the takeaway.

Some of my most popular posts on my blogs are asides – 25 to 50 words on something I wanted to share quickly. These posts are wonderful, because they’re FAST.

Here’s the key to short posts: value. You need to be clear – explain what you’re sharing and why it’s important. Your short post also needs a takeaway: something the reader can try out and use right now. Alternatively, your post needs to be entertaining. If you can do both: provide information and entertainment in an aside, you’re golden.

4. Go BIG with images: a picture gets the feeling across, and helps readers remember you and your post.

Have you discovered Pinterest? Pinterest is a wonderful marketing tool, and it teaches a great lesson: ATTENTION is what counts. Images get attention, so use big, bold images to add emotion and another layer of meaning to your blog posts.

You can share your image posts on Pinterest, and Google+. Great images will spice up your content.

5. Create link posts. They’re fast to create AND they bring traffic.

As popular as asides are; link posts are just as popular. (That’s annoying sometimes. You slave over content, and then a short and simple LINK POST gets more attention. ;-))

You can post a single link with a short comment, or a collection of links.

Bonus tip (for longterm bloggers): Polish up the past. Scour your archives for great material you can update.

If you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ve got lots of wonderful content. Sadly, it’s buried. Bring it back to life. Create “one year later” or “this time last year” posts to bring attention to your hidden gems. (Add a glitzy image for even more attention…)

I shared these five content-creation strategies with some of my blogging students. The general reaction was: “I can do that!” So, if these tips work for new bloggers, they’ll work for you too. :-)
, and on Twitter: @angee

Interesting Google+ Blog post about author attribution and embedded posts.

Excellent ideas, but as far as I can see right now, there’s no way to use a Google profile to log into WordPress.com or Typepad, and in my Google+ stream, the “embedded posts” option doesn’t show up. Yet.

The operative words on the Google+ Blog post seem to be “Starting today”

So not yet available. OK.