All posts by Wolfe Butler

I have been an avid writer and reader since I was old enough to write and read. I grew up in a small midwest community. Now I am most at home in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. Getting Home is my debut novel. Others will follow.

The Top 7 Best Michael Crichton Books

Michael Crichton was an amazingly talented author that we lost much too soon. Crichton finished his writing journey in 2008, but I firmly believe his legacy and books will last for eternity.

One of my favorite authors (it’s so hard to try to narrow that list down), I have read almost everything that Crichton wrote. This list is my seven favorites from his collection.

Brief History

Even though Michael Crichton knew he wanted to be a writer, he initially set out to take the safe course. He pursued a medical career and graduated with an MD from Harvard Medical School in 1969. He started his writing career while at Harvard, initially writing under the pseudonyms John Lange and Jeffery Hudson. You can read more about Crichton on his official website.

Altogether, Crichton wrote about 30 books, three of which have been published since his passing. In addition, he was the force behind the hit TV series ER, and many of his books, including most of those listed here, have been turned into movies.

His experience helps keep me motivated and patient while I continue working today success. Hopefully, one day, someone will write a post like this about my books.

 

Disclosure: This site participates in the Amazon Associates, LLC. program. That means that if you make a purchase through any of the links on this page, I will receive a small commission, at no additional charge to you. Affiliate income helps to keep this blog up and running.

 

Michael Crichton is one of the great authors or our time. This post reviews my favorite 7 from his collection of work. | #MichaelCrichton #book #books #reviews #ReadingList

The Top 7 Best Michael Crichton Books

1. Sphere


I know not everyone will agree with me, but Sphere is by far my most loved book by Michael Crichton. While they did their best to make a worthwhile movie, it does not even shake a stick at the masterpiece Crichton originally wrote.

I’ll admit, the Sphere movie is better than a lot of book-to-movie adaptations. Unlike Battlefield Earth, which was an excellent book, but about the worst movie I have ever seen.

Sphere takes place at the bottom of the South Pacific ocean. A large spacecraft has been discovered and an elite team of scientists are tasked with exploring it and its wonders. The secrets they uncover and the dangers they face makes this a book that was hard to put down. It will always be my go-to when I need a little heart-pumping action.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It has been a treasured part of my collection since I purchased it in 1990. I have leant my personal copy out more times than I can remember, and recommended others read it probably hundreds of times. It will forever be one of my favorites. It’s been in my mind a lot as I develop my current work-in-progress, Paradise.

 

2. Timeline


Timeline is another masterpiece that, in my opinion, did not get the rave reviews it deserved. In this case, the movie adaptation did do a decent job of portraying the story (and features Paul Walker and Gerard Butler – not related, but would be awesome if he was), but movies will never be able to cover the depth or emotion that can be found in the written word.

The book begins with a man speaking unintelligibly wandering dazed in the Arizona desert. He survives less that 24 hours after he is found.

On the other side of the world, an unbelievable find is discovered by an archaeological team. The discovery leads to the introduction to a secretive, international corporation that gives the archaeologists the chance to not only study the past, but to see the past first-hand.

This fun read is full of action and emotion as the team strives to rescue a beloved friend. If you have not read Timeline, be sure to add it to your reading list. The movie is worth watching after you read the book.

12 Awesome Motivational Quotes You Should Know

 

3. Jurassic Park


Perhaps the most well-known and most beloved of Michael Crichton’s books is Jurassic Park. Don’t think that you know this book just because you have seen the movies. While the movies were masterfully done (except for maybe The Lost World), the book gives you much more detail and more insight into the characters than is possible with film.

I hardly need to go into detail, but Jurassic Park centers around a new theme park idea. An island has been transformed into a new home for dinosaurs. The dinosaurs have been resurrected thanks to the ingenuity of technical science.

Sometimes the best of plans lead to terrible consequences, and that is exactly what happens in Jurassic Park. Don’t think that any of the heart-racing moments are lost on the written page. In fact, I think the book scared me more than the movies did. This is a classic that everyone should read at least once.

 

4. Prey


To me, Prey is both exciting and terrifying. The story could easily take place today.

It centers around the Xymos Corporation based in the Nevada desert. Xymos is a leader in nanotechnology, but their latest invention has gotten the upper hand on them. When eight people become trapped by a cloud of nanobots, it will take all the ingenuity they have to survive – if they can.

I loved this book because it feels like something that could happen in today’s world. It’s the story of both technological triumphs and the warning of how technology could turn against us.

Everyone would enjoy this book, but especially those fans of speculative fiction. The simple idea of what could happen is sometimes more scary that what does happen.

Review – Mall Hair Maladies by Kristy Jo Volchko

 

5. Rising Sun


Rising Sun is a break from the science fiction genre that Michael Crichton may be best known for. The book begins in downtown Los Angeles. The Japanese super-corporation, Nakamoto, is celebrating their grand opening for their United States headquarters, when the body of a young woman is discovered on the 46th floor of their building.

The death leads to an intense chase full of industrial intrigue and unexpected twists. The Japanese have a saying, “Business is war.” This tale takes that war to a whole new level.

I loved Rising Sun for its fast pace and the depth of the different characters. Not everything is as it seems, so you have to make sure you are paying attention. This is a great book to introduce you to Crichton’s writing style if you have not already read any of his other works.

For those of you that want to cheat, there is a movie adaptation. It stars Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes.

 

6. Disclosure


Disclosure is another fast-paced tale of corporate intrigue. The main character, Tom Sanders, works for the computer firm DigiCom and is quickly making his way up the corporate ladder. His future is bright until a meeting behind closed doors alone with his new female boss sends everything into a death spiral.

This book is just as timely today as when it was written, and perhaps more so, as the Me Too movement continues to gain traction. It tells the story from the other side, a what-if scenario where a man might be accused of something he didn’t do.

There are more secrets than just the ones involving Sanders. What he learns in his struggle to clear his name will forever alter his view of his beloved company.

I loved this book for its ripped-from-the-headlines feel. Michael Crichton was not afraid to feature a subject that many might have felt taboo at the time of his writing. Still as relevant today, it is a book that everyone will enjoy reading.

Again, there is a movie version of Disclosure. It stars the talented Michael Douglas, Demi Moore, and Donald Sutherland.

 

7. State of Fear


Last in my list is State of Fear. It revolves around Peters Evans, an environmental lawyer that is working to keep the world a safe place to live. Battling against an eco-terrorist group that is conspiring to cause natural disasters fueled by the weather, Evans’ work is cut out for him.

State of Fear takes you around the world from Antarctica to the Solomon Islands and many more locations. Full of action and science that could realistically be happening in our world today, it highlights issues like global warming and how man is affecting the weather.

It made my top seven list because it was full of facts that really made me think about what is happening with weather today. In addition, it is full of action and highly entertaining. Again, I had a hard time putting the book down and read it in one weekend. If you are at all concerned about the weather issues we keep seeing, you will be enlightened by this book.

Ultimate Resources for Bloggers and Writers

 

Wrap Up

This list of Michael Crichton books is hardly exhaustive. In fact, he wrote close to 30 books, three that were published posthumously, including Dragon Teeth, which was just published in 2017. It is one of the few books of his I have not read but will add it to this list later on.

I can’t say I loved all his books. To be honest, I was rather disappointed with both Airframe and Next. That said, even my least favorite books by Crichton were good enough that I read the book in its entirety. I’m not saying the books were bad. You may in fact love the books, but the seven listed above are my favorites. The two mentioned here just did not resonate with me.

Do you have a favorite by Crichton that I have not listed? Share your title and why you loved it in the comments below.

Please share this post with others or on social media.

Michael Crichton is one of the great authors or our time. This post reviews my favorite 7 from his collection of work. | #MichaelCrichton #book #books #reviews #ReadingList

The Smartest 15 Ways to Deal With Difficult People

Anyone who has spent some time working in a customer service field knows just how quickly things can turn ugly. Learning to deal with difficult people it a valuable life lesson learned.

Usually, it starts simply. Something might not have been ready on time. The product purchased might have failed. It might just be a bad day for the customer.

Bosses and managers may be poor leaders, or maybe a family member or spouse might become enraged.

Is there anything you can do to stop a bad situation from spiraling out of control? Of course there is. Here are 15 steps you can take to deal with difficult people.

Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon Services, LLC. Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This post also contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission or referral fee, at no extra cost for you.

 

15 Solutions to Deal With Difficult People

Whether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHack

1. Keep a Level Head

One of the funniest things in Douglas Adam’s, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was that on the front the of the guide in huge letters were the words, “Don’t Panic.”

In the book, these words are ironic, especially in the beginning of the book when Arthur Dent is about to be flushed out an airlock into space.

But, there is value in these words when you have to deal with difficult people.

Stop for a second to take a deep breath. Take another one if you need to. Then make a conscious effort to remain calm.

This is the foundation of diffusing a tense situation.

When disciplining children, parents are often advised to count to 10 before doing or saying anything. That’s sound advice for any difficult situation.

2. Open Your Ears

The next best thing to do to deal with difficult people is to try to discern what they are upset about. It may be a challenge not to jump into fix-it mode, but it’s better to figure out exactly what the problem is before you try to fix it.

Each individual needs to feel like someone hears them. Acknowledge how they feel and give them validation by listening to what is bothering them. Give them ample opportunity to fully explain their issue without interrupting them.

Pay attention to what they say. Your mind will be tempted to start formulating what you should say next. It’s better to concentrate fully on what the other person is saying and then try to think of a solution.

3. Apologize

In most cases, you won’t have done anything wrong. That’s not the point right now.

Start by saying, “I’m sorry.” Those two small words can often go a long way to calming someone down.

Tell them that you intend to try to remedy the situation. Now that they feel like you have heard them and that you want to help, cooler heads should prevail.

Whether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHack

4. Go With Your Gut

Not all situations can be defused. If your fight-or-flight reflex starts to kick in, do what you must to guarantee your safety. Determine the best method of leaving the immediate area.

For many years, I worked in management. It was an area that I both loved and hated. Hiring and training employees was usually great. Correctly or terminating them was another matter entirely.

One man specifically sticks out in my mind. Before we met with him, upper management had met to determine the best way to handle his dismissal. We knew his personality type and that the situation could escalate quickly.

Unfortunately, we were not wrong. In fact, things got so bad so fast that I had no choice but to call the police. To this day I believe that if I hadn’t, someone would have been harmed.

Protect yourself first and foremost, and flee if you have to.

5. Establish a Boundary

It’s not an entirely accurate statement to say, “the customer is always right.” Every business does what it can to provide the highest customer satisfaction, but there are things you shouldn’t put up with in the process.

“Adult language” is very common today. Many people use it without thinking about it. However, when those words start to come out as a barrage against you, it’s okay to draw a line in the sand.

In my last position, I handled all serious customer complaints. Many times a customer would have gone through one or two employees before I was given the problem to handle.

Understandably, customers were often irate at that point. Even so, I made sure to set a standard early in my conversation.


I was impervious to a few “adult” words flying my way, but when the narrative became vicious or the words especially derogative, I would give people a choice.

“Please do not speak that way,” I would tell them. If it was a telephone call, I would warn them three times that failing to calm down would force me to end the call. If the call didn’t improve, I hung up, sometimes several times on the same person.

In a family, it’s not uncommon to completely let your guard down. Sadly, that sometimes means that you might say something to your spouse or children that you would never say to anyone else.

There’s no reason you can’t establish boundaries in the family. Tell your family member that you will have to end the conversation until they can talk in a calmer manner.

6. Be Respectful and Polite

When trying to deal with difficult people, you may be lambasted with a tirade of hurtful words. Even though you may be smarting from the sting of the words, do your best not to respond in kind.

If you let your feelings turn to anger and your words to weapons, the matter will only get worse.

Strive to do your best to use respectful words like sir, ma’am, please and thank you. It may require some strenuous effort, but by remaining calm and respectful, you may just guilt the other person into acting better.

How To Be The Good You Want to See

7. Validate Their Feelings

Even if you do not understand, it’s usually good to say that you do. Or, if it’s obvious that you don’t understand, say something like, “Please tell me more so I can better understand.”

Showing them that what they are saying matters to you will give them some validation. If you show that you are sincerely interested in fixing the problem, the other person will feel more like they are on common ground with you. The need to be difficult should improve.

8. Seek Help if Needed

One thing that often made me livid was when a man would rant to one of my female employees and treat them like nothing, but completely change when I or another male member of management appeared. This well illustrates how another person can often change the conversation dynamic.

Be alert to get help if you need to.

With my employees, we had innocuous words that could be used in a sentence or quickly sent by text message that alerted the other staff that someone needed help. When we heard that word, one or more of us would go to stand with the colleague in need.

An angry individual may have no problem with yelling at one person but may take a step back when a second person appears.

In a work environment, try to flag the eye of a fellow employee or reasonable manager if needed.

There’s often safety in numbers, so don’t hesitate to seek help when you must deal with difficult people.

9. Try Not To Be Defensive

A difficult person may do their best to make you believe that it is your fault that they are so upset. Your natural tendency might be to jump to your own defense.

Frequently, it’s best to let yourself be wronged. Keep your voice steady and at a low, normal volume so as to portray the sense that you are not riled.

Yes, very likely you will be riled. In fact, you might be hopping mad. But this probably isn’t the right time to release the pressure valve.

Keep in mind, at this specific moment, it’s not your feelings that are most important. If you can calm the situation, then later you can rationally discuss the points that you know were unfair or untrue.

Words Do Real Damage – 3 Questions to Ask Before Speaking

10. Control Anger and Body Language

Again, when you deal with difficult people, it’s perfectly natural to feel angry. Do your best to control that anger.

In addition, purposely control your body language.

Pointing a finger at them or crossing your arms may add fuel to the fire. A pointed finger can be taken as a challenge or aggression. Crossed arms may signal that you have closed yourself off to helping the problem customer.

Hold your hands in front of you or let them hang loosely at your sides. Gesture if needed in the conversation, but make sure any gestures are not aggressive or accusatory.

11. Stay Versatile

Just as no two people are exactly alike, no two situations are either. Look for clues as to what the person feels would be the right solution.

In the retail world, customers are often looking for a refund or replacement of a product. However, some unscrupulous individuals may be looking for a business to claim liability or give them just cause to file a lawsuit.

Again, go with your gut in this area. Quite often, the less-is-more approach is the way to go. Say as little as possible until you have some idea what solution they might be looking to achieve.

12. Discern What’s Not Being Said

Many psychologists will tell you that anger is always a secondary emotion. What that means is that often there is another emotion that triggered the anger. This is frequently true when you have to deal with difficult people.

In a marriage, this is often hurt feelings. The verbal barrage you are getting right now may have nothing to do with the subject that is being discussed.

What?

Bear with me a moment.

Imagine for a moment that a wife explodes because a husband is late coming home for dinner or that he forgot to carry the trash to the curb. Is that really what she’s upset about? Or is this something else that hurt her prior to this?

Whether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHack

Personal experience time.

My wife and I, believe it or not, rarely fought. However, one afternoon, and completely out of the blue, she yelled at me, and not just a little bit either.

Now, I know you didn’t know my wife, but she was never a yeller. That was always my job if yelling needed to be done.

I don’t remember the exact words she yelled at me. It seems like it had something to do with leaving a dish on the counter or in the sink.

What I do clearly remember is that it had nothing to do with why she was really upset. It turned out, a few nights earlier I had said something insensitive and hurtful when we were out to dinner with friends.

The comment had meant nothing to me at the time and quickly left my mind, but my dear wife had let it fester in her mind for days until some small thing I had done was enough to break the proverbial camel’s back.

See if you can determine what is really bothering the individual you are having to deal with. Again, this is where active listening comes into play.

13. Don’t Be Demanding

Continue to fight natural impulses if you want to be truly successful. As a situation deteriorates, you may be inclined to say things like, “Shut up!” or “Calm down already.”

Hello, match meet flame. Not good.

Instead, inquire more about what is bothering them. Do they feel like they have been mistreated? Have they been offended in some way?

We all have the need to vent from time to time. Usually, once we are done venting, we no longer feel as upset as we were.

If it feels like a safe option, give the other person a safe space to vent a little.

14. Maintain Personal Space

If emotions are already frayed, it may not take much to make matters worse. Natural impulses may move you to want to touch their arm or shoulder to calm them down. This well-intentioned, empathetic action can be perceived as aggression.

Going back for a moment to the man I had to help fire, shortly before I had to call the police, the business owner made a crucial mistake.

Incorrectly imagining that he could do something to calm the irate employee, my boss reached out and touched his arm.

To say things exploded from there is probably an understatement. In fact, it was like someone flipped a switch and the man being fired lost all control as to his speech or actions. He screamed and flailed his arms and even rolled around on the floor a couple times. It was unbelievable.

So, when you need to deal with difficult people, give them plenty of personal space.


15. Recognize That the Person and Problem Are Different

As you learn to deal with difficult people, it’s important to remind yourself that the person and the problem are not the same.

Some of the worst customers I had to deal with over the years pointed out serious flaws in the business I worked for or the staff that needed to be corrected.

Even though the person you are facing might be acting impossible, the thing they are upset about may be a legitimate problem that needs to be addressed. Look at the situation objectively regardless of how the person is acting.

Strive To Be Better

No doubt, some of the methods in this article to deal with difficult people might be unnatural the first time or two you try to put them into practice. Don’t let that stop you. Just because something feels comfortable doesn’t mean that’s the way it should be done.

The fired employee that was clearly very comfortable with screaming and cussing was certainly in the wrong. However, those were things that he seemed to be perfectly comfortable with.

Give yourself time to improve and keep working on it even if your first few attempts are far from successful. Changing the world takes one person at the time and constant effort, so be sure to keep going.

Please share these helpful tips on Pinterest or other social media.

Whether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHackWhether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHackWhether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHackWhether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHack

 

Tale of a New Blogger – Part 6

Pity-Parties and Successes

I’m having quite a lot of difficulty writing this month’s post. As you read last month in Part 5, April was a little of a disappointment. Okay, so that may be a bit of an understatement.

Since I am sharing the real blogging experience with this series, I am going to flat out tell you: April sucked. May was worse.

I let myself get so discouraged by April that I stopped doing even the things that were working. That caused a further decline in numbers. In fact, the numbers are so terrible that I am not even going to share most of them this month.

Much of my time during my May pity-party was spent out in my yard. At least I can say I wasn’t entirely unproductive, though I also won’t be getting a call from Lawn and Garden magazine anytime soon.

My favorite thing about working in the yard is that it gives me lots of time to think. Whether I’m pushing the lawn mower or pulling weeds out of the flower beds, my mind is usually free to think about other things.

Happily, several things became clearer during the process of getting my yard in shape. I started June with new zeal and a better attitude. So, what went wrong? Did anything go right?

Read and follow directions

Read AND Follow Directions

In total, I have spent nearly 88 hours learning about blogging this year. I have faithfully continued to keep using a time tracker, which has both it’s good and bad points. On the good side, I know just how much time I’ve spent getting educated.

Knowledge is power. I have always been one that set out to learn as much as I could about any task I was assigned. My goal was always ultimately to become the expert in that area.

In most of the jobs I’ve had over the years, that process worked well. Typically, over the course of time, I became the go-to person when someone needed to be trained or when unusual questions came up.

Learning is something I am passionate about. If someone has already invented the wheel, then all I should have to do is follow their directions. It doesn’t have to be invented again.

But…

In the corporate world, almost everything I learned for my business was immediately put into practice. It was important to me to be a force for good in improving office efficiency and staff effectiveness.

Somehow, over the last few months, I have misplaced that lesson.

Yes, I spent 88 hours watching webinars and reading blogging tips and advice, but I failed epically when it came to putting that knowledge into proper use.

It was a painful realization that hit me while working in the yard last month. A plant may or may not have been thrown across the yard as a result.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, there is no additional cost to you, but I may receive a small commission. Thank you for your support.

 

Billionaire Blog Club

A few months ago, I invested in Billionaire Blog Club (BBC). If you’ve not heard of BBC before, here is a quick rundown.

1. BBC is a blogging course

Becoming a lifetime member of BBC gives you access to all of the books and videos that site owner, Paul Scrivens, AKA Scrivs, has put together. Scrivs is extremely (almost scarily) intelligent and has successfully launched dozens of blogs. I may have lost count, but I think right now he is running 15 and they are all massively successful.

Scrivs started all these blogs to prove that a blog could be successful in any niche. He then shaped that knowledge into a step-by-step video series that covers all of the things he does to take a site from ground zero to major income.

2. BBC is a motivator

In addition to all the courses, Scrivs sends out regular emails. He’s not one to waste his time on salesy material. His emails are written specifically for BBC members. Since when you buy into BBC you become a lifetime member, he’s not selling us anything.

Instead, he concentrates on sharing his knowledge and inspiration. As he learns new things about the blogging world, he passes that information on to the members.

The thing that I find most valuable, though, is the fact that he’s not afraid to be brutally honest. In fact, it was one of his especially strong emails that pushed me out of my pity-party mode and back to work.

In a nutshell, he said that the biggest mistake bloggers make isn’t in not knowing what to do. No, instead, the issue usually comes from not doing what they know they should do.

The email could have been written personally to me, because that is exactly what I’d been doing. I had the plans to build a wheel, but I was spending all my time in my workshop trying to make a wheel without using that information.

3. BBC is a community

The other thing that is amazing, and maybe the most useful part of being a BBC member, is the community you become part of. Through forums available on Slack, all BBC members can freely share inspiration, joys, triumphs and failures (happily not many of these) with each other.

Since everyone is working toward the same goal, conversations are very positive. Everyone is working together so that everyone can succeed.

I’m not one to join in many of the conversations, but keeping up with the questions other members ask and the answers provided has resolved many of the issues I’ve had with my own blog.

It’s very impressive to me that Scrivs makes himself available through the forum almost every day. He does this to make sure that each member is getting the direction that they wanted when they first purchased their membership.

However, even if he is not available, there are always other members online. Many of them are experienced enough that they can answer lots of the questions that come up.

4. BBC is not for everyone

As much as I love BBC, it is not the right program for every blogger. I respond well to the way Scrivs teaches his video courses, and I am determined to be successful, come what way.

It’s also quite an investment. In fact, when membership opens up again in a few days, the purchase price will be $397 US. In my mind, it is well worth that price because the information I have gleaned so far has more than paid for itself.

But it’s a hefty investment, so you should not buy it unless you are very serious about putting in the time and effort that is required to make a blog successful. It’s hard work and takes a lot of time, at least in the beginning.

The good news is that if you think you might be interested, there is a free Blogging Bootcamp available on the top of the main Billionaire Blog Club page. The Bootcamp lets you learn a little more about Scrivs and his teaching style without any obligation.

Note: Scrivs is very real and not afraid to say whatever needs to be said. Personally, I need that type of mentor, but some people might want someone that is going to be all sunshine and rainbows. That’s not Scrivs, though he is awesome and super funny.

Anyway, back to the free Blogging Bootcamp. If you decide to give it a try, you can see what BBC is all about and then make an informed decision on whether you feel the investment is worth it.

Back to May

Wow, I really did not intend to make this a Billionaire Blog Club infomercial. I have learned a lot from BBC, though. It is directly responsible for many of the right decisions I have made along the way.

More happened in May, though, that I want to share.

June 2018 Twitter stats - Tale of a New Blogger Part 6
Stats as of 6/12/2018

One, I will share this number. For whatever reason, I am a little obsessed with Twitter. I’m not entirely sure why it resonates with me so much, but I find myself on the platform several times a day. As a result, I am up to 8,900 followers as of today. If we’re not already connected, be sure to look me up on Twitter and say hello.

I continue to be astounded at how many amazing and talented authors are on Twitter and how encouraging they are to other writers. I mentioned a few of them in Lesson 15 of the I’ve Learned series. There’s not enough room in a post to list everyone that has encouraged or inspired me.

Another win (see, May wasn’t entirely bad), is that my blog continues to gain followers through WordPress. I think I’m at 122 now, which isn’t earthshaking, but very exciting to me.

If you are one of my followers, thank you so much for being here!

Getting Organized

Another win I can count for May involves getting better organized. On another blog I read an article about AirTable. AirTable is a database and spreadsheet hybrid, for lack of a better definition. I intend to devote a future post to detailing just how I am using it.

It has been instrumental in getting me organized, especially in regard to keeping up with my blog posts and posting calendar and with tracking pin activity for Pinterest.

The Pinterest thing is finally starting to come together, mainly because I am actually following the directions. I talk about that a little in my post on why you should include Pinterest pins in your blog posts.

What I love about AirTable, more than Excel or Google Sheets, is the versatility of their system. For instance, I am in the process of making multiple pins for each blog post. Tracking what board or tribe I then place that pin on was getting a bit chaotic.

Not only can I now track pin activity and placement, I can also drag and drop the pin image right into the tracking spreadsheet. This is an image of part of my tracking sheet.

AirTable image

AirTable autosaves every few minutes and can be accessed from any internet connected device, so I always have access to my information and it is always up to date.

The best part? Many of the most valuable features from AirTable are free to use. In fact, I have not paid one penny so far for using it. However, it has done a lot to get me properly organized. At some point I may upgrade. For now, the free features are plenty to get me where I need to go.

If you need to get better organized, I strongly recommend giving it a test spin. Remember, it’s free, so you have nothing to lose.

When Did I Get So Wordy?

In the very early days of starting my blog (like six months is really a long time ago), I read a lot of articles about how the most successful blog posts are 1000-2000 words long or longer. Those numbers scared the life out of me. After all, it took me 15 years to write an 80,000 word novel.

Happily, that fear has quickly gone away. As you can see, one thing I have learned to do is to sit down and knock out a detailed and informative post at well over 2000 words. Woo hoo! Another win!

The other happy benefit is that this ability to sit down and write is carrying over into my other works as well. My science fiction work-in-progress, Paradise, is finally getting the attention it needs, and the story is going in the right direction. I can’t wait to share the coming chapters with all of you over the next several weeks.

Thank you for visiting this blog

It’s All Because of You

I want to close this month by offering a heartfelt thank you to all of you that visit my blog on a regular basis. Every time I see that page view count or follower count increase, my heart jumps a little.

Launching my debut novel in November was scary. I didn’t know if I had any real talent or if my writing would connect with anyone. Many of you are coming back week after week. That means either I actually have a little talent, or y’all just like bad writing. I’m hoping for the first one.

Whatever brings you here, thanks for coming. I hope you keep coming back.

Be sure to think about trying the Billionaire Blog Club Blogging Bootcamp and the AirTable organizer. Both are free and may solve some of the issues you might be facing. If you have any questions on either one, please contact me.

Finally, blogs grow by being shared. If you enjoy the content on this site, please share it on social media and with your friends. It will mean the world to me if you do.

Until next time…

Share in the honest, real experience of a new blogger. This post looks at the wins and losses from the sixth month. | #blog #blogger #bloggingShare in the honest, real experience of a new blogger. This post looks at the wins and losses from the sixth month. | #blog #blogger #blogging

Why Bloggers Should Include Pinterest Pins in Their Posts

If you are a blogger and not using PInterest, you need to change that today. Many blogs are getting 400,000 or more pages views each month almost exclusively from PInterest.

I am not one of those bloggers – yet. However, I am seeing big gains from Pinterest. More on that below and in a future post.

Today, I want to talk about why you should be using Pinterest.

First, though, let’s look at some Pinterest basics.

Pinterest is an amazing platform that can produce lots of free traffic. Learn some basics and why you should include tall pins in every blog post. | #Pinterest #SocialMedia #BloggingTips

More Than Just Recipes

Somewhere along the line, Pinterest got the reputation of being just a recipe site. While it’s true there are millions of amazing recipes (I have gotten a lot of great ones, including my favorite potato soup recipe), it is also so much more. Amazingly, almost all of those recipes are found on blogs. That’s million on blog pages represented. So you can imagine the huge potential available with Pinterest.

It’s considered a social media site, but it is very different than Twitter or Facebook. Pinterest is more of a large search engine with visual search.

Suppose you are interested in finding tips on how to increase blog traffic. Typing “increase blog traffic” in the search bar on the site will bring up hundreds of images related to that search term. When you find something you like, you can click the image, also called a pin, to go to the site referenced, or click “save” and have that image saved to your personal board for later use. Saving an image is called pinning.

Think of a board like a traditional bulletin board. You can save each pin you are interested in onto one board, or you can created individual boards for each category. My boards include titles like:

  • Author Interviews
  • Blogging
  • Book Reviews
  • Book Trailers
  • Life Lessons
  • And lots more!

You can see my boards by clicking this line.

Wise pinners know that if they are making their own pins (images) that they need to include valuable text with the image. The reason for this is because many people won’t read the pin description, no matter how wonderful it might be.

Tale of a New Blogger – Part 5 of the Blogger Experience

Which would you click on?

Example A
Example B

Here are two examples of what pins might look like on Pinterest. Both pins might have the same description saying how the post can increase traffic.

Look at each image and decide which one you would be more inclined to click on. If you didn’t decide Example B, well… I don’t even know what to say. But I’m confident you picked Example A.

Suppose both pins were take you to the same place. In this case, they do. Clicking either one will take you to my home page.

The splendor of Pinterest is driven by the fact that people are drawn to shiny things. Represent your blog with something shiny enough, and lots of people will click through to visit your blog. Millions of blog visits are logged each day. The best part for you? Pinterest is completely free.

Create Pins in Minutes

If you follow my blog, or me on social media, you have heard of my addiction to Canva. I am not an affiliate, so that is not an affiliate link.

Canva is a wonderful designing platform that makes creating pins, and graphics in general, incredibly easy. Nearly all of my blog images were created on their site.

When you are first getting started, you can click on any one of a large selection of great templates. That template can then be updated with your blog title and web address. Voila! You have a beautiful new pin.

Canva is free to try. You can create lots of great pins for free, and for as long as you want. Not all options are open to free members, so if you find yourself using it a lot, you may want to upgrade. Lots of bloggers only ever use the free option.

How To Be The Good You Want to See

Size Matters

I won’t bore you with the statistics here, but not all pins perform in the same way. Square images and short rectangles have a much lower response rate than tall pins. Tall pins, like the examples above, usually are twice as high as they are wide, but many are much taller.

Again, Canva takes all the work out of the equation. From your home screen when you sign in, just click “Pinterest Graphic” and the size is set up automatically.

If you’re not already on Pinterest, take a moment to go browse the site. Notice which pins draw your attention. Most likely, the ones you most like are not square or short. Studies also show that using yellow or pink in the pin text gets more attention. See Example B above.

Once you have created an image you like, simply download it to your computer. Be sure to note which folder you save the file into.

Canva does a great job with their tutorials, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here. If you find yourself with a lot of questions, let me know and I will help as I can.

Adding Your Pin to Pinterest

Adding new images to Pinterest is really easy. From any page, click the red circle in the upper right-hand corner, and then click “Create Pin.”

A new window will pop up that looks like this.

Either drag your new pin image into the box on the left, or click in the box to search for the folder where the pin is saved.

Next, copy a link to the blog page you want readers to reach by clicking your pin. The easiest way to do this is to pull up the post in your browser window and then copy the address from the browser and paste it in the Website box.

Then you will want to enter a description. It doesn’t have to be long, but say something about what readers might find on the blog page. Usually one or two sentences are plenty.

Most people won’t read this information, but enough of them will to make it worth spending a few minutes writing a good description. In addition, completing the description increases the chances of your pin coming up in the searches of other users.

Try to use some keywords in your description. Keywords should be applicable to your site and the post the pin will be attached to. Hashtags can also be entered in this box. If you already select tags when publishing a blog post, those same tags would be good keywords for your pin.

When all three boxes are complete, the “Done” button on the bottom right will turn red. Click it and you’ll be taken to a list of  all your boards. Save the pin to an appropriate board. That’s it. You have just created free advertising for your blog.

Where You Might Be Missing Out

No doubt you know the value of having social media sharing buttons on your blog. You took the time to make sure the buttons were there so that people could easily share your content.

Pinterest is a little different than the other options. If someone clicks the Pinterest share button, they may see something like this:

 

Remember, tall pins perform much better. With that it in mind, when someone clicks on the Pinterest share button, you want them to have a tall image option. This is why you should always include at least one pin in every post. Right now, I am in the process of updating all of my posts so there is always at least one tall pin available.

Side note: Up above, in the section on adding your pin to Pinterest, one of the things you need to complete is the pin description. You don’t want your readers to have to fill in this information when they are sharing a pin from your site. The good news, you can do it for them.

Each time you upload a picture to your blog, there should be an Alt Tag field for that picture. You are probably in the habit of leaving that blank or ignoring it altogether. It’s important that you change that habit for any pins you want shared. Put in the Alt Tag field the same information you would put in the Pin Description box if you would adding the pin directly to Pinterest.

The Alt Tag information automatically becomes the Pin Description when a reader share the pin.

Interestingly, over the past few weeks I have visited A LOT of blogs. Very few included pin-worthy images in their posts. That means lots of readers might not be sharing posts because they only want to share good pins to their boards.

One is Great, Two (or More) is Better

When putting pins on Pinterest, you are not limited to one pin image for one website link. Many blogging experts recommend that you have several different pin images for each post.

Scrivs from Billionaire Blog Club, recommends 6-15 pins per post. Still other Pinterest power-players recommend 30 pins or more for each post. I started with five and am working my way up from there.

Until you get the hang of things, I recommend only doing two or three pins. I recommend this for two reasons.

One, it can feel a bit overwhelming, unless you are a natural creative, to come up with 15 or more unique pin designs.

Two, uploading a lot of pins for the same post all at one time can look spammy. Instead, upload a couple pins for each post and then produce a few more pins for each post every couple weeks.

Does It Work?

I’m a little embarrassed to say that I have known most of this information for some time. Unfortunately, I did not really put it into application until last week. It took a particularly blunt and motivating email from Scrivs at Billionaire Blog Club to get me going in the right direction.

It takes a little time for pins to gain traction, but once they do, they should take off. Pins typically continue to produce traffic for about four months. However, when one is reaching the end of its cycle, you can simply pin it to a new board or create it again and the cycle starts over.

Does it work? I don’t have a lot of time to go on, but I am seeing big changes. My numbers aren’t impressive (page views have been awful in May), but look at the change.

And, I fully believe, it is just getting started. Here are my referrals for May (again, May was a dismal month), and my referrals for June through today, which is June 6 as I write this.

May 2018
June 6, 2018

I’ve gotten more than three times ad many referrals from Pinterest in six days as compared to 31 days of May. I couldn’t be more excited.

My New Obsession

Moving forward, I am going to have another obsession in addition to Canva. Pinterest is quickly becoming my new best friend. This trend should continue, and I will share updates in future posts.

Great pins are only one of the keys to success with Pinterest. Group Boards and Tribes can be tremendous forces for growth. I am just learning about both, so a future post will discuss how these tools can help you, too.

I hope this information helps you. If you start sharing on Pinterest, be sure to let me know your results.

You work hard to create quality content for your blog. Make sure more people see your pages by adding a Pinterest pin to every post. Simple steps included. | #Pinterest #BloggingTips

 

Q&A With Wolfe Butler by Kristy Jo Volchko

Q&A With Wolfe Butler by Kristy Jo Volchko

I had the wonderful privilege of being interviewed by Kristy Jo Volchko on her site recently. Mostly we talked about my book, Getting Home, but she also asked some additional interesting questions. You can read the complete interview through the link below.

Q&A With Wolfe Butler

via Q&A With Wolfe Butler

When You Are Stumped By Your About Page

When You Are Stumped By Your About Page

As the Toby Keith song goes, “I wanna talk about me.” Well, not really, and that was kind of the problem with my About Page. It’s not always easy for me to talk about me.

I know there is probably some standard format that should be used for an about page. In part, you should talk about the website or writer. If you have visited my About Page before today, you noticed there were very few words on it. There were two lonely paragraphs that didn’t say very much.

 

Today, (actually yesterday now, as this will be scheduled to post tomorrow. Confused? Yeah, me too!) I decided to put some words on the page. I have never been one to conform to social norms, so I decided my about page should be different as well.

The thing is, ultimately, I had a lot of fun writing it.

I rarely visit about pages unless I need to know where a business’ main office is located or when the site was established. That means that more than likely, most people will never visit my about page. So, to make sure you don’t miss it (really, it’s nothing spectacular), I decided to copy it into a post.

About Wolfe Butler

Welcome

Welcome. I am so glad you stopped by. My name is Wolfe Butler. I have been an avid reader and writer most of my life.

Like so many other writers, I did not believe in myself enough to think that I could make a living as a writer, so I pursued a professional career in financial services. Twenty years later, and I am not as young as I once was, but I am taking the time to pursue my passion. This time, I intend to really give writing a chance.

About pages are sometimes boring. To hopefully combat that, I have decided to offer a unique approach.

10 Things About Wolfe Butler

  1. I love pasta and cheese

    Yes, I know that simple carbohydrates are blah, blah, blah (insert diet and fitness jargon here), but I don’t care. I love pasta. And all pasta has to have cheese with it.

  2. As a child I published a weekly newsletter

    That may not be a big deal today, but growing up in the 70’s, there was no one else I knew that was doing it. Each week on my electric typewriter (does anyone even remember those now?) I would type up a family newsletter. Every effort was taken to type slowly and accurately as I used carbon paper to produce copies as I typed. I still have a few of them and may share them on the blog at some point in the future.

  3. I’m addicted to TV

    If you follow me on social media, you may already know this one. Science fiction is my number one genre, but I also love court shows and anything music related. Plus, I’m a big binge watcher on Netflix and Hulu. I don’t like much for talk TV, but I do watch every episode of The View. Right now, my favorite shows are For the People, Grey’s Anatomy, The Big Bang Theory and Marvel’s Agents of Shield. I’m ticked that Rise was canceled when the show was finally finding its footing.

  4. I have reading ADHD

    No, not really ADHD. I don’t mean to downplay the condition for anyone that lives with it. What I mean is that I find it difficult to only read one book at a time. In fact, right now I am reading five, and they are all good books. I don’t know why I can’t stick with just one of them, but I have pretty much always been this way.

  5. I love the outdoors

    I no longer have the energy or stamina I once did, but I still love hiking. Many of the state parks in Tennessee feature waterfalls, a particular favorite of mine, and most have relatively easy, well-marked trails. One of my favorite parks is Fall Creek Falls. It’s a short walk on level ground to see the featured 300-foot waterfall, though some of the other park waterfalls are a little more complicated to get to. I also love Cades Cove and the amazing views near me in the Smoky Mountains.

  6. I love gardening and yardwork

    If you saw my yard, you might not believe that, especially this spring with all the rain we’ve had. My yard is a bit of jungle right now. I’m also a very eclectic gardener so most of my flower beds are not well organized. I concentrate more on making sure that something is blooming all year rather than on garden symmetry. It looks messy, but I like it.

  7. Volunteering is one of my passions

    I think it stems from spending a lot of time with my grandmother as a child. Volunteering and community care are important facets of life, so I try to do my part. Several times a week, I visit the elderly or provide them with transportation to doctor’s appointments or the grocery store. I love older people. Their stories have given me so much inspiration that I have applied in my own writing.

  8. I love thunderstorms

    This love has been shaken a few times in recent years by a few tornados and severe windstorms, especially the ones that have cost me precious trees on my property. But I love lightning and thunder and the sound of rain falling. If I’m not out on the porch during a storm, you will probably find me sitting near an open window so I can hear what is happening outside.

  9. I’m a little OCD

    No, I’ve never been diagnosed with anything, but I have enough friends that have been diagnosed to know that my obsessions are at least a little unusual. I’m a bit fixated on even numbers, so the volume on the TV and the temperature on the thermostat generally have to be set to an even number. Routine is another area I’m a little obsessive in. I like things to happen at the same time each day or on the same day each week. Maybe that’s why I like Sheldon so much on Big Bang.

  10. I am fiercely defensive of my friends

    I’m generally a very happy and easygoing guy. That said, I am very protective of my close friends and relatives. I will not listen to negative things being said about my friends, and if someone goes after them, well, you best just look out. Because I am coming for you.

I hope you like my crazy take on an About Page. You can learn more about me in my I’ve Learned series.

 

Why You Should Drop Back And Punt

Lesson 15: I’ve Learned that sometimes you sprint for the goal line, and sometimes you fall back and punt.

If you know me at all, you are probably a little surprised that this I’ve Learned installment is starting with a sports metaphor. It’s not that I don’t like sports. Watching football with a group of friends is always a blast.

When I am at home alone, though, sports seldom get much airtime. It’s not that I don’t enjoy watching the games. Instead, I think the game loses some of the thrill without an audience to share it with.

But this is not a post about sports.

No, I’ve come to a realization this month. Lately, it seems like I am having them all the time.

 

Why you should sometimes drop back and punt.

April Was Dismal

To be honest, I’ve been a little depressed most of the month. It takes a lot to get me down, but seeing my low blog numbers for April as I passed my six month anniversary – it was more than a little disheartening.

I have no intention of quitting. However, May has been largely a wash. There haven’t been as many posts as I had planned, and social media has not gotten the attention it deserves.

Something clicked yesterday while I was putting some new flowers in a bare spot in one of my front flower beds. It’s an unusually dry area and the soil is poor. The best thing I could do is dig all the soil out and replace it with good soil and be more conscious of watering frequently.

I was at the garden store earlier in the day. There into my view came an Ice Plant. Perhaps I’ve seen the plant before, but the name was not familiar. Removing the plant tag, I read how the plant loves direct sun and dry, sandy soil. Instead of replacing the soil, perhaps there is a plant that will thrive in what I already have.

Tale of a New Blogger – Part 6

So, I purchased and planted the Ice Plant. In the future I will try to comment on its progress.

That silly little plant got me thinking about my blog. I do my best thinking in the yard and probably that’s why I like to be out there so much. Anyway, it dawned on me, April was a bad month, but that hardly means I should scrap anything.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no intention of stopping this blog. But, I have been neglecting it most of the month.

So, That Didn’t Work

This will probably sound very egomaniacal, but please bear with me. I started this blog for me and to share me, Wolfe Butler, with the world. I felt like I had some things to say that maybe someone else would enjoy or benefit from reading.

Then I fell into a bit of a trap. I started reading other blogger’s success stories, big income reports and “expert’s advice.” Imperceptably, I became obsessed with SEO, catchy titles and appropriate blog lengths.

I’m not saying those things are not important. They certainly are, and especially if you hope to make a real income from your blog.

I didn’t start a blog to make an income. If that happens, wonderful, but it was never my purpose.

 

Review: Beginner Internet Marketing Series by Gundi Gabrielle

Sprinting in the Wrong Direction?

Without realizing it, I had started sprinting for the money goal line. The end result started to blind me to everything else. I lost much of my joy in the process.

I can’t help but think that is at least part of why my traffic dropped off.

The readers I had were likely not interested in which title was the most captivating or which post had the best keywords. They were coming around because they were interested in what I had to say. They were interested in me.

With blinders on, I lost some of me – what readers were responding to in the first place.

The View Is Different Back Here

One of the best things that happens when you step back is that your view changes. Up close, I’ve been obsessing about that barren dry spot in my flower garden. However, when I walk back to the road, that spot is barely noticeable because the rest of the garden is flourishing and full of color (and too many weeds at this point.)

It’s time I do the same thing with my blog. Obsessing over SEO and page ranking, etc., it’s not good for me. It’s not good for my readers.

So, I am making a commitment. Though I still plan to share my blogging journey, I hope to never become obsessed with stats again. The numbers may go up or forever stay flat. Neither will change my purpose.

 

7 Reasons to Never Give Up

 

Listening to the Fans

Three people recently really helped me with this realization, even though they probably don’t realize the impact they had on me.

One, the amazing Caron Allen, author of the Dottie Manderson Mysteries, has been a perpetual cheerleader both on my blog directly and on Twitter. I’m sure I owe many of my Twitter followers to Caron’s efforts to help promote me and my blog.

Two, the incredibly sweet Kristy Jo Volchko, author of Mall Hair Maladieswhich I reviewed recently, gave me the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed on her site. Even though that interview just posted, the experience did a lot to bring back my joy.

Three, someone I don’t know very well but hope to going forward, Drew J. T. Smith, author of Zodiac Awakening, made a touching comment on Twitter about something he had read recently in my current work-in-progress. He even said he had read everything in the tale so far.

Now, I didn’t ask these three people why they have helped me or why they are reading my work. I’m pretty confident, though, that if I did, none of them would say anything about SEO or page ranking. These wonderful people are reacting to me, Wolfe Butler, and the works I am most proud of sharing.

Lucy, Hold the Ball

As Charlie Brown did so many times, I am going to fall back and kick the ball. Like Charlie, I may fall flat on my back. Even so, I have found my way back to joy, and I think that will resonate with readers.

I am very open to suggestions. If there is something you really liked or really hated or even just thought was okay about my blog or writing, please share it with me. I want to connect to people. I want to connect with you.

All the blog ranking stuff will come. Or maybe it won’t. If Caron, Kristy Jo and Drew are the only people I ever touch, I am happy with that. My goal was to reach someone.

Mission accomplished!

Thank you for reading!

Until next time….

Please pin this post on Pinterest or share it on other social media.

Sometimes you'll power through, but other times you'll want to drop back and punt. How do you know which to do? Read this important life lesson learned.

Tale of a New Blogger – Part 5 of the Blogger Experience

Blogger Experience: The Month That Should be Forgotten

It is with much frustration that I write this installment of Tale of a New Blogger. I would love to skip this month from my blogger experience entirely, and that is probably why it is already the middle of May and I am just now sitting down to write about April.

Blogging is a bit of a roller coaster. Some month have amazing highs while others feel like you are plummeting to your death. April was a month of downward spirals.

My intention of starting this series was the write the real experience of a new blogger. True to that conviction, here goes.

Sickness is a Different World for the Self-Employed

April started strong. The end of March saw some increase in momentum. I was finally starting to feel like I was getting into the right groove.

Then the universe decided to see how many things it could throw at me.

First, I had a week of issues from a chronic health condition I live with. Next, a severe chest cold led to weeks of difficult breathing and minimal sleep.

Just when I felt like I was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the pollen explosion had me wishing I could literally scratch my eyes out of my head.

Experiencing an illness when you have a traditional job can be a bad experience. But you at least have the comfort that the business will keep functioning and you may even have the benefit of sick or vacation pay.

When you are a business of one, even a moderate illness brings everything to a screeching halt. Production, customer service and income generation all stop as you do.

I tried to keep up with my blog and posted at least one new post each week. Social media got some attention as I tried to get on at least one of the platforms each week.

But, all in all, April and the first part of May were a dismal blogger experience.

Why Be Patient When Working Towards Success

Did Anything Good Happen?

Gloom and doom are not typical parts of my personality, so let’s switch gears and talk about the positives of the blogger experience for the month of April.

For one, even with my limited posts for the month, visitors and page views for the blog held fairly steady. To me, that is a huge win because it means the blog has finally developed some momentum and is growing organically.

While page views held pretty flat, the number of visitors on the site saw good growth. The trend also seems to be growing in visitors visiting more than one page during their visit.

My blog now has 110 blog followers. That means I need to finally get an email program up and running. The steady increase in followers makes me optimistic that I am producing valuable and engaging content.

Both Facebook and Instagram were woefully neglected. The small drop in Facebook likes is not surprising.

Twitter continues to be my social media platform of choice. I can’t say why I prefer that platform so much. Part of it is because most of my followers are writers and bloggers. Being able to interact with such amazing individuals and at 280 characters or less brings me much joy and inspiration. I might explore the other reasons why in a later post.

Twitter was also neglected during my illness, but the relationships I have nurtured and the presence I have built kept a steady increase in followers even on the days I wasn’t able to get online.

Pinterest started very strong. The blogger experience lesson learned here is that, no matter what other bloggers will tell you, manual pinning is important.

I use Tailwind and am very happy with the automated pinning product. Campaigns are set to pin 30 pins per day at various times. Even with Tailwind working properly, you can see near the end of April, when I was too sick to spend any time online, impressions dropped dramatically. However, I was only pinning about 10 pins per day with Tailwind at the time.

Pinterest was responsible for 12% of the traffic driven to my site for the month. That may not sound like much, but in the previous month, Pinterest only brought in 4% of the traffic. That large increase in such a short period means I will be spending lots of time on Pinterest in the coming weeks.


Be Constantly Improving

Whether you think of it that way or not, a blog is a brand. If you are an author, your name or psuedonym is also a brand.

Brands only continue to grow and gain popularity by buidling new and meaningful relationships with existing and potential readers.

I hate marketing. There’s no sugarcoating how negative I feel about the subject. Marketing is a necessary evil in the blogger experience, and is especially important for bloggers and indie authors.

During my illness, I read a particulary moving post about mistakes that authors, and by extension bloggers, frequently make. Here is the link to the post:

Help Me Understand Why Writers Still Do These 3 Awful Things

In her post, Meg Dowell discusses three mistakes that many authors and bloggers make. The point that resonated the loudest with me deals with interacting with readers on social media.

I have to admit that I have fallen into the bad habit of primarily using social media to promote either my book or content on my blog.

Meg’s post reminded me that readers follow writers because they want to get to know more about the author as a person. Most followers already read your work, so social media is a chance for them to get to know the person behind that work.

Much effort is being directed at improving this bad habit. I’ll keep you posted on the positive results I see down the road.

12 Awesome Motivational Quotes You Should Know

And in Other News

If you are not already following my science fiction, work-in-progress, working name Paradise, be sure to click this line. There are now 11 chapters available in what I intend to be book one in a series.

The feedback from the chapters posted has been positive and brings me much joy. I would love to have more insight. Please share the story with others you know that like science fiction. Even if someone is not a big sci-fi fan, they will likely enjoy the story because it is mostly character driven.

April was poetry month. While I intended to write a poem every day, I only ended up writing one poem for the whole month. I plan to post that poem later today or tomorrow.

Now it’s your turn. How did last month go for you? What lessons and tips did you learn about the blogger experience? Were there any triumphs? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Until next time…

Why Be Patient When Working Towards Success

Success takes time. Time requires that you be patient. Patience is not always easy to achieve, but it is possible.

The last few weeks have truly tested my mettle and patience. A severe chest cold knocked me on my butt. Then, just when I thought I was going to recover, the pollen explosion sent me spiraling back down into agony. To add insult to injury, a freak storm did damage to my property this week.

It is very difficult to write meaningful content when you feel terrible. It’s almost impossible to write coherent material on cold medicine. To keep you from thinking I had slipped into a pattern of heavy drinking, I chose instead to take some time away from my blog and be patient.

And I missed it terribly!

With everything that has been going on, though, I have been reminded of an important life lesson.

Success rarely comes quickly, so you must always be patient. You must never stop trying.

 

Independent or Stubborn?

Independence is a key attribute of many successful people. Unfortunately, being independent sometimes feels incompatible with patience.

I can only imagine that I gave my parents quite the fit. They did their best to raise me properly, but I didn’t always make it easy.

I taught myself to ride a bike, and refused help even when both arms and legs were skinned, and I had suffered more than one groin injury.

Learning to tie a tie, learning to shave and learning how to care for injuries are all life lessons I taught myself. On more than one occasion, I suffered injuries that should have been addressed by a doctor, but I never told my parents. Instead, I set out to treating them myself with the plan to tell someone only if the wound got worse. Fortunately, that never happened.

It’s amazing I survived childhood.

 

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Independence and Patience

Being independent should not be a negative trait. In fact, it often leads to ingenuity and out-of-the-box thinking. It’s not surprise that so many leaders and inventers were independent people.

Learning to be patient tempers the independent spirit. Patience teaches you to wait and keep trying. It makes you understand that failures aren’t fatal, and that sometimes goals can only be reached with the help of others.

Both of my parents were incredibly stubborn, so I come by my need for independence quite honestly. My wife constantly picked on me about it.

Being stubborn has its strength. In the end, I learned how to ride that bike, even how to ride no handed. I survived all my injuries. My ties now always feature an elegant Windsor knot. I have shaved more times than I care to remember.

Every lesson was finally learned by being patient.

As a child I did not fully understand, but success only comes when you refuse to stop. You may not reach you goal today. However, if you are patient, tomorrow just might be your day.

You can read more about why you should never give up in the following post.

7 Reasons to Never Give Up

Is it worth it to be patient?

The question, then, becomes, “Is it worth it to be patient?” You bet it is.

My debut novel, Getting Home, is not really my first novel. In fact, I have five other complete novels that I wrote as a young man.

I can’t explain exactly why I never pursued anything with those stories. The writer brain is often a harsh critic, so I never fully imagined that I could make a living with writing. Often I thought that no one would connect with my writing, so there was no point in sharing it.

Last year, I changed that mentality. I decided to throw caution to the wind and tossed Getting Home out into the world. It is definitely not selling at a pace to provide me with a living, but it did set a ball in motion that will eventually get me to that point.

This month’s Tale of a New Blogger post hasn’t gone live, yet. That’s partly because I am very discouraged by April’s numbers. Being sick much of the month is no doubt the reason for poor numbers, but it’s still disheartening.

That said, there is no intention on my part to give up. Six months in, I am still loving my blogging journey. I love planning, writing and illustrating blog posts. Sharing my current Work-in-progress – Paradise – gives me great joy. Recently, I was even inspired to write some new poetry which you can read below.

Success takes time. Keep reminding yourself of that fact.

You Asked Me – Poem by Wolfe Butler

What Are You Working Toward?

What is your goal? Do you have a plan that you are working toward?

Be patient. If you get discouraged, think about the steps you need to reach that goal. Which ones have you reached already? Let that success fuel you to move forward.

Have you slipped an fallen? That’s okay. Get back up and back into the fight. Success will come, if you are patient and don’t give up.

Do you need some motivation? Here are 12 great quotes you can apply in your life to make success possible.

12 Awesome Motivational Quotes You Should Know

Rome Wasn’t Built…

There’s no reason to finish that line. You have all heard in many times before when someone was trying to encourage you to keep going. Maybe it was because you missed the mark of the goal you were aiming for. It’s a very true statement.

So, how do you keep going?

First, be sure to celebrate the small victories.

Building a house is an excellent analogy. The first step in building a house is finding the right property and then the right location on the property.

Next, the site is leveled out and the foundation is constructed.

Sometimes, it is weeks and even months later before the framing begins. After the framing, the home is dried-in, or in other words, the roof is complete and the exterior doors and windows are all put in place. From the dried-in stage, many more weeks can pass before there is further progress.

Every goal is very much like building a house. The foundation is the bedrock of your future. It’s based in patience.

Each step could be likened to the framing of walls, building a roof, or adding doors and windows.

The point is, each step is integral to the final goal of having a complete home.

 

4 Ways to Beat Procrastination – With Frogs

And That Means…

Writing a book, or any worthwhile project for that matter, is also not a steady forward moving process. Time and necessity (and sometimes illness) may force you to back away for a while. Writing yourself into a corner can take some time to overcome, often because difficult choices have to be made to correct the problem.

And editing. Ugh! Editing is murder. Ask any writer, and they will all pretty much tell you the same thing. Editing is the worst.

Yes, I am sliding a little off topic.

My point is that the final success of building a house or writing a book is built on many smaller successes along the way. That’s an important life lesson.

 

Celebrate Little Things

Take the time to celebrate the completion of the little steps, and it will be easier to be more patient until you achieve victory. Each mile marker is a move up to the top of your mountain. Celebrate each one.

Now don’t get my wrong, I didn’t see any contractors or homeowners celebrating when the framing or dry-in process was complete. But they could have.

Celebrate when you complete that chapter or word goal. Pat yourself on the back when you rework that particularly difficult passage. Sing from the rooftops when you finish editing a section of text.

OK, maybe not the last one unless you don’t have any neighbors nearby. I wouldn’t want any of my dear readers to be carted off to a padded room somewhere.

But you get my point. Each success is just that – a success. It’s too easy to get fixated on the long-term goal and fail to see the progress being made. Own that success and let it empower you to continue moving forward. By being patient, it will come.


But I’m Still Discouraged…

Some of you might be saying right now that despite the small successes, the ultimate goal seems too unattainable, so maybe you need to quit.

Stop. That. Thinking. Right. Now.

Or, if you absolutely have to have a pity party, give your permission to have that party today. However, that permission has to come with a condition.

Tomorrow, you have to get up with renewed vigor and dive back into whatever project you are working on. If you are writing, get back to writing. Are you are editing? Then keep editing, even through the tears and anguish that inevitably come with it. If you are building a house, go on to the next part of the building process.

For the time being, though, don’t think about your final goal. Instead, decide what the next step in your process should be and focus on that. If it’s writing 500 words or editing a chapter, that is now your goal.

Reach the goal. Celebrate. Pick the next goal. Repeat.

The big goal will come if you are patient and work hard.

You got this.

Yes, it’s true, Rome wasn’t built in a day. But when it was completed, what an amazing masterpiece it turned out to be.

Your work will be no different.

Until next time…

Please share this post on Pinterest or other social media. Thank you!

Why should you be patient when working toward a goal? Because success rarely comes over night. Read this life lesson on how to cultivate patience.

 

7 Lessons About Blogging That Last Year Taught Us

The internet is a constantly evolving animal. Blogger advice received today might not be accurate tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean there is not lessons about blogging to be learned.

Well, maybe not that quick. It does often seem like things change overnight.

Last year was a huge year for blogging. That knowledge is a big part of what prompted me to start this blog in November.

I’m a big numbers person. If you’ve read my Tale of a New Blogger series, you already know that. In my free time, not that I have a lot these days, I enjoy looking at stats. I know. I told you I was a little crazy.

 

Blogging is a constantly changing world. Last year taught us many new lessons. This post reviews seven of them. | #blog #blogging #blogger #Bloggingbeginners

Recently, I was curious about how many other bloggers got their start last year. There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer to that question. I pulled up estimates from 5 million to 200 million.

Part of the difficulty is that sites view blogs differently. I tend to think of sites like mine as blogs. But many statisticians view profiles on social media like Tumbler, Facebook, and Twitter to be blogs. Hence, the big difference in estimations.

The other reason for no answer is the big blogger platforms have stopped releasing blog stats.

While I was researching this question, I came across two great posts that reaffirmed some of the lessons I have already about blogging and a few new ones. Here are the top 7 lessons about blogging.

 

7 Lessons About Blogging

 

1. People Love Blogs

Blogs have become the go-to for people looking for advice, instruction or purchasing recommendations. An astounding 81% of internet users feel that blogs are a reliable source to get this information.

That means that 4 out of 5 people reading your posts trust what you have to say. There’s great power in that but also great responsibility. It’s one of the most important lessons about blogging from last year.

That said, most readers prefer to skim posts. On overage, only 37 seconds is spent on a blog post. Readers tend to skip as much as 60% of blog content.

Does that mean you should write shorter posts?

In a word, no.

Why You Should Drop Back And Punt

 

2. Size Does Matter

In further reviewing lessons about blogging from last year, Google states that their top-ranked content from blogs was between 1,140-1285 words in length.

In addition, word count is increasing overall per last year’s stats. The average length of a blog post in 2016 was 1,054. In 2017, that average jumped to 1,142.

Why?

Long posts perform better. In fact, if your post is recommending a product or service, 9-times as many leads are produced from long posts when compared to short posts.

Longer posts, even if the reader only skims half of it, engender trust in your reader. Of those readers, 61% will ultimately make a purchase based on that recommendation.

There are some bloggers writing very short posts and being successful. As a rule, though, the longer posts produce more page views and better lead rates. Writing longer posts may be a crucial one of the lessons about blogging from last year.

 

3. Pictures Draw Traffic

The next of our lessons about blogging from last year is the importance of pictures and images.

Everyone likes a nice picture. Think of the posts you are most drawn to as you are browsing social media.

This fact is sometimes forgotten by bloggers. Stop forgetting. The blogging stats in this area are impressive.

Blog posts with pictures and/or infographics average 94% more page views than text-only posts. That’s nearly double.

Videos, and this was a surprise to me, increase results from organic search by as much as 157%.

You may see videos on this site in the near future.

In regard to infographics, their use grew from 50% utilization to 58% in just one year. Condensed infographics are frequently the top performers on social media as well.

One of the best ways to add pictures to a post, is to be sure to include a tall image that can be pinned to Pinterest. Read the following post to learn more.

Why Bloggers Should Include Pinterest Pins in Their Posts

 

4. Frequency Makes an Impact

So I’m a little torn on this one. When I first decided I was going to start a blog, I visited many sites that recommended posting every day. When I browsed those sites what I frequently found was an abundance of garbage.

I hate to be brutal, but that’s the truth. Some of the bloggers are getting a lot of page views, but I honestly don’t see how. At least, I can’t imagine them getting much return traffic.

With this blog I’ve tried to follow the quality over quantity mindset.

But I might have to rethink that concept. I hope to never publish garbage, but I am seriously thinking about increasing post frequency.

In the continued lessons about blogging, last year, of more than 1300 bloggers polled, bloggers that posted more than daily saw more than double the results as those posting once a week. Those posting daily saw about a 10% increase as opposed to those posting 2-6 each week.

Again, I’m not sure how I feel about this stat. For one, these results are from a poll, not hard data.

Can polls be trusted?

Some people are not entirely honest when it comes to polls. Two, I can’t help but wonder if the increase in results in not purely just a result of putting out more content.

This brings two expressions to mind. One, even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then. In this case, even a terrible blogger will produce something of value from time to time.

The second expression is something one of my old bosses used to say in regard to sales, “If you throw enough stuff at the wall, something is bound to stick.” It applies both to sales and to lessons about blogging.

One hard stat I could find was that 16 blog posts a month seems to be the magic number if you can’t post every day. Per one study, posting 16 times in a month produces 3.5-times the results as posting just once a week.

I am going to give this topic some serious thought. Probably I’ll stalk a bunch of blogs to see if I can discern real value in posting every day. I’ll write a later post on what I find.

One caveat, I hope I didn’t offend anyone with my “garbage” comment. If I follow your blog, please know that means I don’t think your blog is garbage. The ones I was so disappointed in will remain nameless. If you visit many blogs, you likely know which ones I refer to anyway.

 

5. Odd is Good

It seems like I have heard this somewhere before, but it still surprised me. List posts with an odd number of items are 20% more effective than those with an even number.

Yes, that is why this post has an odd number in the title.

On the top of lists, up to 36% of readers prefer a list article over a traditional text post.

I’m more than a little odd, so you will see me continue to be so. At least now I have a valid reason for it.

 

6. Updates Are Worth Your Time

If you’ve been blogging for any time at all, you’ve been told not to forget your old content. My blog is less than six months old, so I don’t really have any old content. Well, maybe some of the earliest stuff. But I digress.

Taking the time to update an old blog post can increase search result value by 75%. Merely changing the title of an old post can raise click rates by more than 10%. Yes, only about 55% of bloggers revisit old content.

Ask yourself, what is easier? To spend a day, or 3.5 hours on average, to produce a new quality post OR to spend an hour revamping an old post? Actually, changing a post title takes less than five minutes.

The older I get, the more I need things to be easy. This morning I revamped two blog posts to increase SEO and improve quality. It took me less than an hour total to refresh both posts.

 

Tale of a New Blogger – Part 6

7. Content Shouldn’t Be Deleted

I imagine that over time it may be tempting to delete old posts or poor performing ones. That recommendation is that you don’t.

About 10% of posts continue to increase in traffic generation over time. They are referred to as compounding posts and produce around 38% of total blog traffic.

There doesn’t seem to be a clear path to what makes these posts compound. Most were well-performing posts at publication.

Occasionally, and apparently, at random, an old post will sometimes take off. Maybe it’s just a matter of the right person sharing the post at the right time.

Whatever the case, as a blogger you quite literally put your blood (okay, hopefully not blood), sweat and tears into your blog. Don’t diminish the value of that effort by deleting posts.

If the post is truly bad, take the time to turn it into something great. But don’t delete it.

 

Additional Stats of Interest

Of the posts that go viral, 25% inspire a sense of awe or shock from the reader, 17% make the reader laugh.

A business can see an increase of up to 97% in inbound links from having a blog.

There are a lot of social media, content, and email marketing stats I did not use in this article. If you would like to read those or refer to the site that I consulted for most of these stats, you can do that here.

Have you learned any blogging lessons recently? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Blogs grow in popularity through recommendations. If you enjoyed this post, please share it with others or on social media. I will be eternally grateful.

 

Blogging is a constantly changing world. Last year taught us many new lessons. This post reviews seven of them. | #blog #blogging #blogger #Bloggingbeginners