December 26, 2007

Planning My Blog Face-lift...

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! We certianly did. Today I've got a ton of cleaning, present sorting, and blog maintenance to do. I'm going to tackle the blog details first because the girls are sleeping and I don't want to wake them.

I'm going to find a new skin for my blog here. I like pyzam and all their layouts, however I'm looking into some others. There are so many out there. I'm hoping to find one that will give me style without having to sort out the widget details.

I've noticed that this layout is rather slow loading, even on my DSL. I want to find something fast, yet custom. I may just go back to the Blogger layout, it didn't lag. If you stop in today you find a new look, or a variety of new looks until I find the right one.

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December 20, 2007

Taking a Little Respite

With the holidays upon us, I am not going to post any more entries until the day after Christmas.

I hope that everyone has a Very Merry Christmas and all of your Holiday Wishes come true!


December 19, 2007

Effective Time Management Tips

A lot of comments I have gotten through my Content Marketing series referred to the lack of time to spend on promoting. In this post I want to lay out some tips for time management that I follow.

Above all one must know their values. You must allow for family time, personal time, and time for devotion. Second, you must define your goal(s). For help with this read "Personal Goal Planning - Steps to Making Your Goals a Reality."

  • Get Moving! Point plain and simple, if you have something to do, or you want to do, do it. Act! What are you waiting for?
  • Plan! Get organized. Make yourself a schedule. If you know what you should be doing at a certian time on a certian day, it will be easier to accomplish what ever you desire.
  • Pick what you do wisely! Sudden changes in your schedule can be good and may lead to unexpected opportunities. However, you must keep in mind that every deviation means one less task is being accomplished. Learn to say "no" sometimes instead of saying "yes" all of the time.
  • Segment your tasks! Big jobs may seem daunting initially. Breaking up large projects into small chunks will make the job easier.
  • Learn when to stop! How much is too much? Perfection is overrated, often unattainable, and a matter of judgement. You can dissect a task to death. You are you own worst enemy (especially true of writers a lot of great work is trashed when edited one too many times by yourself). Learning to stop a project upon completion is beneficial to you and your time.
  • Manage your tasks, schedule them, complete them at the scheduled time! This applies to everything from bill paying to meetings.
  1. Assess tasks-do what is important, valuable, or goal related.
  2. Make time for it
  3. Forget about it until it's time. If extra research or preparation is necessary for it, schedule that too.
  4. Act on whatever it is at the scheduled time. For meetings get it done but don't let it run over your allotted time. Of course this rule does not apply for doctor appointments as they always run over or late--you're better off not to schedule anything else for the day.

December 18, 2007

Help! I've been Tagged!

My Blogger pal, Kathy of Well Placed Words, has tagged me. I am supposed to spell out the rules of the tagging adventure:

  1. Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
  2. Share 7 facts about yourself.
  3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.

  4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

I don't know if I can say much more about myself than I already have in my about me section and previous posts. I will try.

  • I have a wonderful husband and we have two girls. One is a teen, thinks she knows more than me, and is driving me crazy. The other is just turned 4 and thinks mom and dad are heroes.

  • I am owned by two cats and a big dog.

  • I love animals, especially horses. (I don't have a horse, this is a neighbors that I have an affinity for).
  • I love water sports

  • I love the beach

  • I am an amateur photographer. Perhaps novice is a better word. Heck, I just like to take pictures.

  • I think all people are good but sometimes they do bad things. When they do bad, it's like the snowball effect and it escalates beyond their control.
Now for the final portion of my tagging quest. I read a lot of blogs, but I do not comment on all of them. (Some are wordpress and I have this thing about entering my email at random.) Thus, I cannot go to comment about the tagging on their blog.

In light of this, I will bend the rules, give some points I like about the blog, and link to them. If they read this post, they will know.

The first blog I really became interested in online was the eBay blog. Not one blog particularly, but the whole community of bloggers. If you scavenge through the hello, goodbye, and what are you eating posts, you can find a wealth of information, meet lots of people, and hock your goods.

A blog that I have found useful is The Barefoot's blog: Barefoot Scribbles. I came across it because he offers tips, hints, and advice for Associated Content Producers. There are also a lot of funny blurbs and cut throat antics strung throughout.

An inspirational blog I discovered recently is Angesbiz's Buzzing with Ange. Very motivational and enlightening.

I know he's going to hate me for this, because he was just memed recently, but I'm doing it anyway. Peter's blog St. Vincent's Hospital Male Nurses has been a wonderful place to visit. He posts pictures, talks about his boys, his career, his life. A true representation of reality in blogging.

A wonderful poetry and writing blog I read is Wayne's Nutty Steamers. His poetry is thought provoking and honest. I love the exercises and the examples he works up from his writing assignments, very entertaining.

An insightful blog that I have come to love: Casdok's Mother of Shrek. I happened upon her blog when she commented on mine one day. I liked it so much I bookmarked it to check in on it. Though I do not comment as often as I should, I love to read it.

I regularly read a few tip blogs, in addition to the Barefoot's. One is Bradblog's Daily Rambler. This blog is about blogging and what you can do to make your blog better. The others are highlighted in my great blogs section, which is a work in progress so don't be offended if you don't see yourself there yet.

Since my first tag was really a community, I would like to say that Kathy's Well Placed Words was one of the first blogger blogs I ever commented on. Not a tag back, just a kudo. I came across her blog after I signed up with blog rush. I noticed her post, Inspiration and Memory, and needed to put in my two cents.

In exchanging with her I met Conda, Conda's Creative Center--she's the tagger who hit Kathy. Again, Conda, not a tag, just a kudo.

I read many more but I can't put them all in here, your fingers would suffer from clicking exhaustion.

December 17, 2007

My Emotional View: Trying to Tap my Muse

Before the weekend I caught up with my reading. One fellow blogger, Conda, of Conda's Creative Center got me to thinking with her post: "Emotional Writing Pros and Cons."

I used to write very emotional prose. I felt a sense of release from spilling my heart out on paper. Now, unfortunately, a lot of my work is buried in the bottom of a filing cabinet. Silver fish and salamanders feast upon the bounty.

I do have a few relics laying about here. One is called "Night Storm," you can view it my clicking on the title. I was so proud of this one. I actually submitted it to a poetry contest. See how naive I am. I realized since that a lot of those contests are through vanity publishing companies. They are geared toward those vain enough to purchase the book just to see their work in print. I bought the book.

Back to Conda's post. I sat down this weekend and tried to fill a blank page with emotional words. Something that used to come so naturally to me has abandoned me. I am lost.

Perhaps I was trying to force it? Maybe I have too many thoughts to pin down?

For me the pros of writing emotionally would be the freedom you get from the flow of ink onto a page. The ink draws icons that represent the joy, sorrow, or pain one needs to release. The icons form phrases that make sense to the reader. The reader can show affinity to the emotion.

The cons of emotional writing could be related exactly as the pros. Adding to that, one is opening their heart and bearing their soul. What if someone stabs it?

Here's what I wrote:

I am inspired to tap my Muse on the shoulder,
She sleeps by a tree in field full of clover.
Awaken, I say softly in her ear,
She turns to me as the sleepy fog clears.

I hold out my hand to help her rise
She grasps it and lifts me up to the skies.
We soar through the clouds, free like birds
Expressing our thoughts with just the right words.

December 14, 2007

Editing on Your Own? Do what the Editors do!

Producing quality web content, that generates clicks, comes with a responsibility. There's more to editing than running the spell check. Reading your article through once, twice, even three times will help you find common grammatical, agreement, and punctuation errors.

For most web publishing, you are your own editor. So, what do you do? Do what the editors do!

With regard to revision and publication, editors look at certian criteria. Here's the guideline:

  • Content

  1. Information: Are the facts true and the sources reliable? Is the content original, authoritative, and are opinions backed up by supporting information?

  2. Analysis and Interpretation: Is the author's voice resonating throughout the piece, not a regurgitation of other's work? Are ideas, facts, or premises presented in an organized manner and analyzed using facts and personal input? Is the hard stuff made easy to understand? Is the article better than it's sources?

  3. Balance: Does the article present both sides of the story? Are the author's voice and facts discernible? Will the reader consider the article reliable through the presentation?

  4. Originality: Does the article give a fresh look to the subject? Does it allude to prior thoughts on a topic and surpass them?

  • Readability

  1. Appeal: Does the article grab the reader and compel him to continue to read? Does the interest maintain momentum? Does the organization flow? Are the concepts and facts presented with clarity, related to the subject, and leading to create value for the reader?

  2. Concreteness and Clarity: Is the article more concrete, does it have a solid foundation with real tangible ideals or is it comprised of abstract details? Does the article get to the meat of a subject? Does it encourage the reader to think about, talk about, or act on the subject?

  3. Color and Tone: How is the author's voice? Does it talk at or with the reader? Is it active or passive? Is the use of story, humor, contrast or irony appropriate and presented in a sincere rather than condescending manner and flows as part of the article?

  • Impact

  1. Enlightenment: Is the article educational, beneficial, and stimulating without being preachy? Does the article have that Aha factor?

  2. Force: Goes along with balance, does the article offer authority and persuasion without being overbearing? Will the article stand the test of time? Is it intense, logical, and touches on fads but is independent of them?

  3. Relevance: Is the article subject up to date or enduring? Will readers find it as an extension or reward to their interests? Challenging or opposing interests is good too, writing this way feeds controversy.

Adapted from: The Elements of Editing. By Arthur Plotnik

December 13, 2007

Lesson Learned about Networking and Communication

I've been playing a little catch up the last few days. I like to dress up my pages as the seasons/ holidays change. One I've been doing for a long time now is my me page on eBay. Also, my blog over there.

I have to say I logged in and set up my me page last week and didn't bother with my blog layout. I figured no one had been looking at it, I hadn't updated since last month. I was so wrong. The hits are at 6,000+.

I read through a couple of blogs but did not see many familiar faces. I decided to post a little entry anyway. I was surprised that there were a couple of lurkers that I know and they said their hello. I really miss playing around with eBay, and apparently, I'm missed too. I've decided that I need to schedule a little time for it once the holidays are passed me.

There you go. I just gave an example of exactly what I was talking about in yesterday's post on networking (or at least it applies a bit): "Keep the lines of communication open after initial meetings. In the case of networking, absence does not make the heart grow fonder, it makes it forget."

Another interesting eBay thing for me of late. I had written a few reviews and guides and posted them there. Last week I actually got a question about one of my guides asking for my recommendation for a camera (the guide was about buying a digital camera). I felt honored.

I am inspired by the paths I have laid out for my self. I am committed to keep them clear.

December 12, 2007

Networking Strategies

Rounding up content marketing...


We've talked about networking online in the promotion section. But what about the human interface? Do you socialize? Networking is an excellent way to get your content out there. Talk to people and tell them what you do.
  • Have business cards made up with your name, your site, a little abstract about your content, and contact information. Carry them with you and pass them out.
  • As you progress, think business cards and a brochure.
  • When you mingle, be sure to ask questions during your exchanges about what they do. Ask them for a business card or how to get in touch with them for future dealings.
  • Become an active listener. Listen to what they say and ask questions. If you seem interested, they may have a bone to throw you. Always follow up on leads you are given.
  • Hidden networking opportunities. Strike up conversations with total strangers you come across in computer stores, bookstores, coffee shops, even grocery stores. If you find yourself standing next to someone, who seems to be interested in the same thing you are, talk to them. You never know what door you may be opening up--a future client? Source? Associate? Maybe even a friend?
  • Be active. Join clubs, groups, or take a class you have an interest in. There are networking opportunities plus informational perks.
  • Utilize your instincts. If you are standing next to someone who doesn't seem open to communication, don't bother talking to them.
  • Don't burn bridges. Keep the lines of communication open after initial meetings. In the case of networking, absence does not make the heart grow fonder, it makes it forget.

December 11, 2007

Keeping Your Content from Stagnating

Content marketing continued...

Don't Stagnate!

To cover this topic let's discuss a little about what it is to be stagnant and some of the causes that bring about the inactivity. Of course, stagnant means lack of motion, foul, or stale and is usually related to water. When it comes to content marketing, if you are stagnant, you are failing to progress, are inactive, or undeveloped.

What's your plan? You must lay out a strategy in order to progress. Constantly revamp your plan of action. If something is not working, manipulate it until it does. If you can not get your plan to work, scrap it and try something else.

Don't try to do it all. When you are marketing your content, pick where you focus your energy carefully. You do not want to be networking all of the time, as you will never get to producing content. Lack of fresh content will weaken your appeal.

Keep up with your brand (or niche). Stay on top of fresh information. Subscribe to blogs, magazines, networks, or your favorite media that updates information frequently. Doing this will keep you alerted to new data, tips, techniques, or sources. Most importantly, you must give your readers a reason to return, fresh information will help with that.

Are you interested in what you are putting out? More than likely, if you like it there are others that will too. Focusing on producing what you know will keep you interested and ready to learn everything you can to make it better.

December 9, 2007

Generate a Buzz about Your Content

The next theme from content marketing...

Create a Buzz!

Great promotion is going to get your article buzzing. But, you can kick it up a notch.
  • Can you tie your content to something hot that's happening in the news?
  • The Holidays always generate chaos, can you link your latest to the festivities?
  • Come up with something that hasn't been tapped yet, get it out there, and promote it. If it's innovative, it's sure to attract a buzz.

  • Be consistent with your promotion. Produce related content on a regular basis to keep up the promotion momentum.

  • Give readers a reason to come back, or refer to you, don't stagnate, be productive, and stay on top of the current trends.

  • Ask an expert for help. If you can get a respected leader in the field to give you a pat on the back, you will gain some of that recognition just by association.

Some adaptation from: "The Top 7 Ways To Create Incredible Buzz For Your Business" by Christopher M. Knight

December 8, 2007

Gaining Readership: Promotion Tips to Get You Read!

Continuing on with the content marketing themes...

You've been writing, editing, branding, and now your content is out there; what do you do with it? Promote it! No one is going to know about it unless you do a little foot work, or I should say click work.

I've already posted some of my strategies in "Promotion: Using the Tools to Link Myself Together," but let's talk a little more about it.

  • Email: A powerful tool. Think about all of the emails you get, what about the emails you send? Do you have an email signature? An email signature is a little clickable link you can pretty up, or make business like, that will bring family, friends, and associates to your articles. If you don't already have a signature, set one up. (The above 'email signature' link is for Outlook information, search email signature for other options.)

  • Communities, Groups, Forums, Social Networking: Great ways to promote your content! You provide your link, a little abstract, and the readers will come. However, you have to reciprocate reading with other members.

  • Comment: Comment and ye shall receive comments. This is probably the best way to gain readers. If you show interest in other people's work, they will look at yours. You should also check bradblog2's post: "Comments-Do YOU want more?"

  • Link: You link to yourself and others. Share information you've researched and written through links. Not only will you be paid back for it through link backs to your stuff, you will be giving kudos to others.

  • Blog: Create a blog and write about what you have written. Provide links to your specified content.

When you promote your work you are automatically creating a buzz about it. Joining communities and participating, while sharing your expertise, will help you flourish. Once people are reading your content, sharing it, and writing about it, you never know who may pick up on it--think publishers, producers, manufacturers.

December 7, 2007

Write What You Know

To continue my coverage from my content marketing post, I'm going to lump the next two themes together.

Find a niche and make your information useful!

According to Wikipedia, "a niche is a focused, targetable portion (subset) of a market sector." Okay, like I said, a piece of the big picture.

In the Strategic Profits blog, the post "Jersey Boy Cracks The Code And Transforms Into A $50 Million Maven - Here’s How He Did It…" there was a discussion about niche marketing. The interview was with Gary Vaynerchuk, the wine guy, he used sunglasses as an example in developing a niche.

He basically said, for the longest time you could pick up a pair of sunglasses at a store, like Wal-Mart, and still can. Suddenly someone in the sun glass industry realized that sunglasses needed a store of their own and little kiosk and sun glass shops popped up everywhere selling special sunglasses.

Vaynerchuk did the same thing with wine. He's video blogging wine tasting, giving away his information as a "maven" (expert in the field), and gaining fame and fortune in the process.

When it comes to useful information, I can't tell you how many times I searched a subject and clicked articles that fell short. They lured me in and all I found was a sales pitch offering me the information for a small fee. Don't offer your self up as a source unless you're going to give up the goods.

I hate to say it but, I've even seen this tactic on my home site. I read an article or two that offer links to other articles that are supposed to give more information. The link would be to a site selling some "informative" ebook. Well, that's fine, if that's the way you want to play.

I don't buy ebooks. Not anymore. I bought one once and it was full of links to other "sources" where you could buy more ebooks.

Once you've found something you know, that you are interested in, and can specialize in, make it your own. Think benefit, will the content be beneficial? Learn everything you can about it and keep it up to date. If your information is useful, you will gain popularity. If you become an expert, you will be sought out.

December 6, 2007

The Power of Belief

Yesterday I outlined the common themes of content marketing. I'm going to explore each concept more over the next few posts.

Believe in yourself!

"Your greatest asset is you." (from: If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It: Power Thoughts, by Robert Schuller). You are the driving force. You control how you are going to live. You have the power of choice. You can make it happen.

Have you ever had one of those days where nothing seemed to go right? How did that day start? Did you crawl out of bed stub your toe, trip over the dog, and knock over the bedside table? Did you spill coffee on your shirt and have to re-vamp your outfit? Did you say to yourself, "off to a bad start today...this day is going to suck" and find that your day didn't get any better?

What you say or think to yourself, about yourself or your situation, plants a seed. What happens when you plant a seed? You fill a pot with soil, bury the seed in the dirt, water and tend to it until you get your reward--the plant. When you think negative thoughts, you plant negative seeds in your subconscious. Your subconscious takes those thoughts and internally develops a course of action to make you have a day that sucks.

If your day starts poorly, turn it around! Think positively.

Say to yourself, with a smile on your face: "I believe...
  • this is going to be a beautiful day."
  • good things are going to happen today."
  • I am going to get that promotion, finish my project, get that contract, (or whatever you want)."

Let's dive into belief a little further. What do you want your reward to be? Write it down and make it happen. Follow the guidelines I laid out in "Personal Goal Planning-Steps to Making Your Goals a Reality." Believe in your goal, nurture it, and make it grow.

Some more quotes from Power Thoughts:

  • You will never win if you never begin.
  • Success without conflict is unrealistic.
  • Today's accomplishments were yesterday's impossibilities.

December 5, 2007

Common Themes Throughout Content Marketing

Yesterday I opened myself to discovery. I've been working toward a goal. Learning and practicing everything I write about here. What is my goal? To be a published author.

In "Personal Goal Planning-Steps to Making Your Goals a Reality" I laid out my plan. Now it's time to act. Can I bring it to fruition? I think I'm on the right track.

There is a wealth of information out there. The who, what, where, when, and how is abundantly clear. When it comes to content marketing, here's what I have found common throughout:

Look inside of yourself and draw on your inner strength. Set your goal and make it happen!

Niches are branched segments of the tree, little pieces of the big picture. Make it something you are an interested in, learn more about it and become an expert.

If what you are providing is not beneficial, then you are dead in the water

Get people excited, be a cheerleader.

Put your content out there and keep up the momentum.

Be prolific, consistent, and up to date.

Share what you know. Participate with the community. Don't be a wall flower! Communicate, join groups, do what it takes to make yourself known. Take advantage of the tools available today, write, photograph, or video tape your information, and put it in a blog. Brand yourself and make your content accessible.

Throughout my blog there are several links to references for you to peruse, but here's the latest that I've come across:

December 4, 2007

Today I Access

I live a very simple life. I have two beautiful children and a wonderful husband. We live in a little house in a beautiful community. As I see it, my life is perfect.

I've been thinking about a lot with the holidays upon us. Since I started writing again, I've been in discovery mode. A discovery of myself, my life, my family, and the world as a whole. I have come across a variety of wonderful people throughout this process. For this, I am thankful.

As I learn, I want to share. What started out as just inspirations, has become revelations and then some.

This morning I read a beautiful post: "Be like a pencil" by Mother of Shrek (Casdok) She writes about being a pencil and making your mark. It made me think about myself and my mark. Right now my mark is small but strong, I have my children, my husband, my existence, and my familial bond.

My inspiration is in my journey.

December 1, 2007

Promotion: Using the Tools to Link Myself Together

I did it. I took the plunge. I know, I've been straddling the fence on this for quite some time--I set up a myspace profile. That's why I have not posted in a couple of days.

The process was a two day affair. I wanted to do a few things to increase traffic to my articles. This morning I put up a blog post on myspace and I had a brainstorm.

I've started to link everything I'm doing. That's how promotion works, right? I've touched on it in my previous posts. (this one too). All of that research I've been doing is finally clicking in my brain.

Basically, If you want to gain readership you must bring it all together. Put all of your eggs into one basket, so to speak. However, I was always told not to put all my eggs into one basket. That was then, this is now.

Back to my brainstorm. I went to my blogcatalog profile and invited friends from my lists to myspace. I've already added myspace's link to the forum at Associated Content and have gained a few friends. Now I have to invite more friends.

I read other blogs, articles, and profiles and comment. Doing this has helped me, to not only learn more about others like me, to gain readership and Internet friends.

I have yet to link this blog and my me page to myspace. That I hope to get done today.

When I have it all together, I can concentrate on content. I know, I have some content here, there, and everywhere, I have to build more. Especially on the foundation: my articles.

There is a method to my madness. It's all becoming clearer the more I dive into this. Once I lay out this foundation, I will be able to branch out! Now that's inspiring.

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