Category Archives: Blog Post

15 Best Gift Ideas for Thoughtful Writers and Poets

The writer in your life needs a gift, and who best to tell you the best gifts but another writer. This post looks at 15 unique gifts for writers with items that are on real author’s wishlists. It also includes comments as to why I love each item.

15 Best Gift Ideas for Thoughtful Writers and Poets

This list of gifts for writers could also be called, “A writer’s wishlist.” Everything on this list is either something I have already purchased or that I hope to in the near future.

1. SUPERJARE 9-Shelf Tree Bookshelf


Every book lover always needs more space for books. The SuperJare tree bookshelf has a unique design that will display your books in an attractive way. Its dimensions are 55.8”x 9.8”x 19.6” making it the perfect size for just about any room.

Why I Love It

This bookshelf is on my wish list because it is pleasing to look at and different enough to start conversations. It’s not very wide, so it will fit almost anywhere you would like more book space. Three different color options are available (black, cherry, gray), though I am partial to the cherry.

2. Uni-Ball Vision Elite Rollerball Pen


As a writer, you can never have enough pens, and Uni-Ball is known for their high-quality assortment. The Vision Elite series is one of the smoothest writing pens you will find. Great for taking notes or writing in a journal, these pens will quickly become your favorites.

Why I Love It

Vision Elite pens are my favorite because of how well they write. I love that they have a cap, so I never have to worry about them opening if they are in a suit pocket. The eight colors mean I can color-code my notes as I write them rather than having to go back later with a highlighter. A set of these pens lasts me 4-6 months.

3. Emenest Glass Apothecary Jars


Who doesn’t love candy? The Emenest Glass apothecary jars will be the highlight of any author’s desk or home office. This 3-pack comes with a small (9.5″ height, 4″ diameter), medium (11″ height, 4.5″ diameter), and large (8.5″ height, 4.75″ diameter) jar. Each jar is hand blown and has a removable cap.

Why I Love It

I’m a little addicted to sugar, so it’s nice to have a few bits of candy nearby when I need a little break or pick-me-up. I love that there are three jars in the set, so that I can have one for M&Ms, another for LifeSavers, and a third for Jelly Belly jelly beans. Yes, I like sugar that much. Don’t judge me.

4. Rocketbook Erasable, Reusable Wirebound Notebook


In addition to pens, writer’s can never have enough notebooks. This 32-page notebook is different, though, as it can be used over and over again.  Designed to work with any Pilot Frixion pen, highlighter or marker, its pages can be wiped clean with a damp cloth. If you frequently scribble short-term notes, this notebook should be part of your green initiative.

Why I Love It

I’m one of those writers with sticky notes stuck to everything. This is a great alternative for temporary notes. I keep one by the bed for those odd thoughts and story ideas that invariably show up in the middle of the night.

5. Wall Art Moon Sea Ocean Landscape Picture


The ideal writing space has at least some visual stimulation. My desk is near a large window, so I can enjoy my yard when I need a moment of inspiration. This moon and sea picture is both inspiring and calming. Art is always appreciated on lists of gifts for writers.

Why I Love It

Two of my favorite things are the moon and the sea. The picture captures both beautifully yet is not so big as to take up a lot of wall space.

Author Interview: Tereza Mackova (Tokyo Story)

6. CafePress – Writer’s Clock


What’s the most important thing for a writer? To be writing! This fun clock reminds you every time you look at it what you should be doing.

Why I Love It

I love the humor on this clock face, especially the panic and booze spaces. Now, I don’t have to feel guilty for that glass of wine because the clock says that’s what time it is.

7. Tree Journal


Keeping a journal is one of the best ways to keep the creative juices flowing. This beautiful, faux leather journal will inspire you to write just by looking at it. Journals are always high on the list of gifts for writers.

Why I Love It

A third item on my favorites list is trees. I love that there is a tree embossed on the cover of this journal. There are eight options for the cover including a compass and mountains, which are my other two favorites.

8. Magnetic Poetry


Magnetic poetry was always one of my wife’s favorite things, and our refrigerator was always covered with words. This set includes three hundred magnetic words that will have you standing at your fridge for hours at a time.

Why I Love It

My biggest struggle with writing poetry is coming up with the right words. Having this set on the refrigerator, all I have to do is stand there and look over the words, rearranging them as needed. This is also a great gift for families with children as it encourages both reading and writing.

9. Great Drinkers – 6 Piece Shot Glass Set


This tongue-in-cheek shot glass set is all about humor. Featuring famous authors like Dorothy Parker, Oscar Wilde, Winston Churchill, W. B. Yeats, Charles Baudelaire, and Lord Byron, at least you know you are drinking in good company.

Why I Love It

It always brings on a lively and fun conversation when I bring out this set of shot glasses. Each author’s glass also shows one of their quotes about alcohol or drinking.

10. The Storymatic Classic


Everyone gets writer’s block from time-to-time, so having the right writing prompt is often essential. This set includes 540 unique cards with nearly unlimited combinations.

Why I Love It

When I’m really blocked, I need something to get me out of my normal headspace. Grabbing a couple of these random cards almost always does the trick, and often they end up fodder in whatever work I am currently working on.

How To Get To Know Your Novel Characters

11. Vintage Feather Dip Pen Ink Set


Every writer should have a quill and ink set in their collection. This beautiful set features an antique-looking feather with five writing nibs.

Why I Love It

This set is a décor piece in my home, sitting on a shelf near my writing desk. It comes in four different feather options, though my wife was partial to the peacock feather. A quill is one of the best gifts for writers.

12. 5-Piece Typewriter Coaster Set


This is another gift idea that will get people talking. Shaped like an old-timey typewriter, this coaster set looks great even when not in use.

Why I Love It

I have a special fondness for old typewriters because I first taught myself to type on an old manual one. These coasters bring back fond memories while protecting my furniture from the perils of sweet tea.

13. “Please Do Not Annoy The Writer” Mug


Who of us hasn’t killed a friend or two in our writing over the years? Okay, so I won’t ask for a show of hands. This 11-ounce mug is a great way to put a smile on your face or to get others talking at the office.

Why I Love It

To me, humor is an important part of good mental health. This cup makes me laugh every time I look at it.

14. The Writer’s Toolbox


The Writer’s Toolbox is another gift option designed to combat writer’s block. A longtime creative writing teacher crafted the kit. It includes:

  • 64-page booklet filled with exercises
  • 60 exercise sticks First Sentences
  • Non-Sequiturs
  • Last Straws
  • 60 cards fuel creative descriptions
  • 4 spinner palettes

Why I Love It

I love anything that gets me unstuck. While I have not purchased this toolbox yet, it is most definitely on my wish list.

15. AcuRite 01121M Vertical Wireless Color Weather Station


The weather station was picked because it’s always good to remind writer’s that there is a world outside their office and workspace. Its display includes the date and time, indoor and outdoor temps, and the weather forecast.

Why I Love It

I’m a little obsessed with the weather, so there are actually two of these in my house. I love that it also includes a humidity sensor, so I know when I need to click on the air or the dehumidifier.

Author Interview: S. L. Harpel, Author of Contained

Wrap Up

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of some of my favorite gifts for writers and poets. If you did, please share this post with others.

15 Best Gifts for Writers and Poets

 

9 Reasons Why You Need to Upgrade Crowdfire

Blogging seems to be a constantly moving target. Every time you feel like you have finally mastered a part of the process, a Google alert or email announces some new change that completely changes at least a portion of the blogging experience. All these constant changes mean you sometimes need relevant help, and that’s why I chose to upgrade Crowdfire.

You do not have to upgrade Crowdfire to get access to their great tool. In fact, most everything is available to you on the free version, though there are some restrictions as to the number of actions per day. The free option is a great way to test out the app and see if it’s best for you.

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you. These commissions help keep the blog up and running.


Crowdfire Logo

 

 

What Is CrowdFire?

The short answer is that Crowdfire is the best way to manage your social media accounts and the content you share. It is constantly improving and will help you manage sharing for platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and more. In addition to content options, with Twitter, you can also monitor and increase your followers through smart suggestions. More on this in the Twitter section.

Most of all, it is a time saver. If you regularly read my blog, you know how much I enjoy being on Twitter. However, that meant I was spending hours each week following or unfollowing users and posting or scheduling quality content. Thanks to this time-saver, I now spend my time on Twitter interacting with other Tweeters posts and don’t worry so much about my followers as Crowdfire has that handled for me.

9 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade CrowdFire

While Crowdfire has an excellent free option with lots of helpful tools, the remainder of this article will concentrate on the reasons why you should consider upgrading.


Twitter Logo

1. How Does It Help With Twitter?

Twitter is the number one reason why I chose to upgrade Crowdfire. With the app, you have the ability to schedule great content, monitor your followers, and see which accounts have stopped following you. Additionally, you can set keywords and specific Twitter users to follow, and the program will give you smart suggestions on which accounts you should follow and which posts you should like.

I will admit, I do not follow their prescription for growth every day, and if I did my results would be even better. However, in just the last 30 days, following their advice many days in the month has resulted in a net growth of over 1000 new followers. These seem to be quality followers as I notice each week that the number of unfollowers seems to be dropping.

Facebook Logo

2. How Does It Help With Facebook?

Due to Facebook rules, Crowdfire cannot post directly to a personal profile at this time. That said, it can and does a wonderful job of posting to Facebook pages. That means, if you have an author page, you can make sure that you are posting quality and relevant content on a regular basis.

Before I chose to upgrade Crowdfire, I have to admit that there were times my author page was being neglected. That is no longer the case, and my page engagements have gone up dramatically as a result. It has become an integral part of my blogging journey.

You can learn more about my blogging journey in the post, This and That.

Pinterest Logo

3. How Does It Help With Pinterest?

Pinterest can be a fickle mistress, so she’s not always easy to work with or understand. However, Pinterest is a powerhouse when it comes to leading traffic to your site, so you want to make sure you are regular posting content links there.

Posting new pins to Pinterest has never been easier than it is with Crowdfire. In addition, if there’s great content you want to share on Twitter, you can also share it on Pinterest with just a click of a button. One post, multiple platforms, and with just one click.

Instagram Logo

4. How Does It Help With Instagram?

Instagram is sometimes frustrating to work with because of their requirement that you must post from a mobile device. If you are like me, you do most of your posting from a laptop or desktop computer.

Crowdfire makes this process as easy as possible. Set up the post from the desktop or smart app with all the pertinent images, text, and tags you want. Then, when the time is right, Crowdfire will remind you that it’s time to post, and that picture and text are added in just a couple quick clicks.

Personally, I schedule a week’s worth of Instagram pictures this way. Then, when posting time comes, it takes about five seconds to make the post live.

5. What Other Platforms Work With CrowdFire?

More than just the four platforms listed above, this standout app also works with LinkedIn, WordPress, YouTube, Blogger, Shopify, Etsy, Twitch, Vimeo, and 500PX. Best yet, new improvements are being made all the time. Is there a platform that you don’t see but would like to use? Simply send an email to the developers and they’ll let you know whether it is in the works.

Other logos

6. How Many Accounts Per Platform?

It ultimately depends on the plan you pick when you upgrade Crowdfire. To get a feel for the software, sign up for free and then add one social media account per platform. Later, you can review which plan you want to upgrade to, and each plan determines the number of accounts per platform.

7. What About Sharing Content From Other Sites?

Sharing content should be one of the top reasons why you would want to upgrade Crowdfire. It does everything it can to make that sharing easier. Not only does is suggest relevant and worthwhile content, it also recommends articles that people you follow are sharing in their feeds.

Better yet, the system is smart and learns with you. Is there a site you don’t want to share from? That’s fine. There is a block option and you will never see content from that site again. You can also set keywords and topics that you want to follow so that the suggestions in the app are even more useful.

Book Review: Contained by S. L. Harpel

8. How Much Time Does It Take?

As was stated earlier, Crowdfire is a huge time saver. By using the app from your phone, you can manage your new content and followers in as little as 10 minutes per day. For me, this freed up hours each week that I was spending making sure I was following back relevant new followers and cleaning out accounts that had been suspended or closed by Twitter.

9. How Can It Be Accessed?

Everything on Crowdfire can be accessed through both their website and their stellar smartphone application. In fact, the app is probably faster and easier to use. Many days I handle all of my content requirements before I even get out of bed. That’s how fast you can do things with Crowdfire.

With the app, you also have the ability to update and add content from anywhere. Are you reading a great news article that your followers would enjoy? Great. Click “Share” and then select the Crowdfire app. Choose which platforms you want to share the article on and click “Post.” That’s it. You’re done, and it only took about five seconds to share on all your social media accounts.


Crowdfire Logo

Wrap Up

In conclusion, there are many great reasons to upgrade Crowdfire. If you are looking for an excellent way to continue sharing great content and yet free up a lot of your time, you want to consider this app.

Remember, there is a free version of the product that you can try without obligation. That way you can test out all the great features before making any type of investment. However, with the annual plan, that investment is as little as $4.99/month, and that’s less than some cups of coffee.

Really, upgrading is a no-brainer. Try out Crowdfire today.

Have you looked at the application but just aren't sure if you should upgrade Crowdfire? This article answers nine questions as to why you need to today.

 

How To Get To Know Your Novel Characters

Writer’s block. If you’ve been writing fiction for any time at all, it’s an evil you know entirely too well. Even the best ideas will sometimes flow into this invisible wall. Character development is one way to get passed that wall.

One reason why some author’s end up stuck with writer’s block is that they do not know their main and supporting characters as well as they should. Never fear, this post will highlight five things you can do to get to know your character better. There’s even a free printable at the end to help you along. It’s completely fillable, so you don’t even have to print it to fill it out.

Most of this post will refer to main characters (MC), but the thoughts and questions should be applied to all the major characters in your work in progress (WIP).

5 Ways To Get To Know Your fiction Characters

1. Getting to Know You

How well do you know the character you are writing about? There is more to strong characters than names and physical descriptions.

For the sake of simplicity, we will use my main character today from Getting Home, Tom Jacobs. He is weighing heavily on my mind right now as I am in the process of working on a heavy revision of the novel.

The first step in character development is to learn a little about Tom as you would a new friend. Where does he work? What type of work does he do? What are his best and worst qualities? If he could have any job, what would it be?

These are simple questions, but an important foundation to the character you are writing about.

In Getting Home, the book starts with Tom working for a company in their marketing department. He is also a part-time student working toward a degree. It may feel unimportant to know these simple facts, but in Tom’s case, knowing a bit about his workaholic tendencies gives the reader some insight into his personality. Not to mention, his work and school career tell the reader quite a bit about his family dynamic.

Author’s Note: If you are interested in reading Getting Home, please hold off a little while until the revision is complete. I will be running a free book promotion once it’s complete.

How To Get To Know Your Novel Characters

2. We Are Family

Next, you want to figure out the supporting characters in your main character’s life. Rarely can a character exist in a solitary state. Even when they can, backstory is still a vital concept. The character has not always been solitary and at least has parents in his past. Plus, there needs to be dialog. Think Wilson in Castaway. A good story has to have at least some dialog.

Spending time in public, even though many writers prefer a solitary life, is a great way to invigorate your writing. People watching, if you are careful to do it in a non-creepy way, can give you tremendous fodder to help flesh-out your book’s characters.

Pick a location like a local coffee shop or busy restaurant. My go-to is Panera Bread. It’s an easy place to spend a couple hours with your laptop where you won’t garner much attention. There tends to be a lot of foot traffic to keep you full of fresh ideas.


The reason for the public location is that you will want to get to know your character in a real world setting. Putting him in a world different than you are writing about will help speed character development.

Imagine your MC sitting at one of the tables of the restaurant with the real person (people) currently sitting at that table. Does your MC have a significant other? Do they have children? What type of relationship do they have with their parents? Do any of these subjects come up as they sit at that table?

Each question will get you one step closer to defining who your character really is on the inside.

For Tom, he has a strained relationship with his parents, one that only gets more complicated as his story continues. He’s not close to his sister and really not even close to his wife, or at least not at the start.

Anguish – Poem

3. Feeling Good

Next, let’s dive a little deeper into your MC’s mind and heart. How would he/she feel sitting at the table right now? What thoughts would be going through his/her mind? Would they be interested in the conversation taking place at that table?

Consider also other things your MC might be feeling in that moment. What are three things they are grateful for? What last made them sad? When did they last cry? Were they alone or with someone as they cried?

Each question teaches you a little more about your protagonist and further develops your creative writing. Every little step makes your MC a more fleshed out idea that will have depth and will resonate with your readers.

In terms of character development, Tom was frequently depressed. Most of his life, he struggled with addiction and feelings or worthlessness, but just like in real life, feelings can change, and so did his. In fact, he goes through a whole range of emotions in the course of the book.

This and That: Checking in With Wolfe Butler

4. The Future Is Bright

A common problem with creative writing is that writers sometimes get stuck in a moment. After all, that’s the moment you are writing about in your novel, so isn’t that where you should be?

Yes and no.

Of course, you want to be fully present in the moment to write the best fiction scene possible. However, you need to remember that readers are looking at your MC as a total person. Every person has a past and at least some hopes or fears about the future. What is your MC thinking about?

Decide from where you are right now in your work in progress, where does your MC want to be in five years? Ten Years? Twenty years? Giving your MC aspirations makes him more relatable and realistic.

Are you struggling with writer's block? Perhaps you don't know your characters well enough. Read this post for inspiration.

What are three things or so on your MC’s bucket list? Which item is more important? Why?

Sometimes it helps to consider these questions about yourself first, just to get in the future mindset. When you know where you are going, it’s easier to determine where you want your MC to go.

From Getting Home, Tom was looking for his home. His bucket list consisted of one thing: Find home and get there. You’ll have to read the book to see if he gets there.

5. Back To The Real World

Next, let’s go back to where you are sitting right now, hopefully in some public place with lots of people. Imagine your MC walking in and sitting down with someone who is already seated. How do they know this person? Are the friends? Why or why not?

Safety note: Be careful to not look at a person too long. You never want to garner attention from a stranger or appear creepy.

Next, watch for the next person to enter the area. That person is friends with your MC. What does your MC like or not like about that person? How would your MC describe their relationship?

Tom was a great person for me to play this game with. He was very likable and got along with others easily, so he was always running into friends or making new ones.

The Smartest 15 Ways to Deal With Difficult People

Your Turn at Character Development

Now it’s your turn to work on character development. To help you with your task, I have created a free, six-page worksheet with questions you can ask yourself about your main character. The worksheet can be printed or used as is since it’s a fillable PDF document. Be sure to save it if you use the fillable option.

You can get your copy by clicking this line and entering your email address on the next page.

Writer’s block doesn’t have to be a problem. Hopefully this printable worksheet is a tool you can add to your author toolbox to keep it at bay and improve your creative writing and character development.

Please let me know how the worksheet works for you. This is a new adventure for me in developing printables, so I’d like to know what works well and what doesn’t.

Until next time…

Learn new ways to cope with writer's block. Read this post for 5 ways to get to know your characters better.

This and That: Checking in With Wolfe Butler

Hello, readers! It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post about me. So much has been going on that I feel like I need to check in with my audience and give a quick update on everything from building a launch team to growing an ice plant. As a result, I’ve decided to take some time off from my different series.

As usual, Wolfe is trying to go in more directions than are humanly possible (I don’t know why I’m referring to myself in third-person.) If I didn’t, though, I wouldn’t be me.

From hiring editors to killing plants, here’s what’s been going on in Wolfe Butler’s world.

Why You Need a Professional Editor

If you’ve followed me for any time at all, you know that my debut novel, Getting Home, was a labor of love that took me 15 years to complete. I finally self-published it simply so I would stop working on it. My goal was to go back to it at some point so it could be polished to perfection.

A couple reader’s pointed out some small grammar and typo mistakes. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so those mistakes have become an obsession of mine.

I decided not to wait and to dust off the manuscript. I raised the price on Amazon so no one would be interested in buying it for the time being, and I decided to get the help I needed to polish it into the gem I know it can be.

Through a little searching, I was able to find a great editor within just a two-hour drive from where I live. I am working with the wonderful and talented Angela B. Wade. Even though the book was finished, Angela is helping me do a developmental edit. Angela can also be found on Reedsy if you want to work with a great editor.

 

Picture of an edited page

The Bad and the Good

When it comes to getting good and bad news, I always opt for the bad first to get it over with and so I still have something good to look forward to. Angela has helped me to see that there were some serious revisions needed in Getting Home due to plot holes and some confusion from inconsistent point-of-view.

On the positive side, as I work through the entire manuscript again, I’m finding that it’s actually a fairly decent piece of fiction. Yes, I know I shouldn’t say that about my own work, but I have been pleasantly surprised.

After almost seven months of not looking at it, I sat down to read it cover to cover. I was pleased to find some good writing. Yes, there are lots of things to fix, and I’m so thankful to reviewers like Kristy Jo Volchko for their kind reviews in spite of glaring mistakes. However, there is some good writing, so I can’t wait to do a new release for my passion project.

While I am disappointed with myself for putting my work out into the world in an imperfect state, I am so grateful to Angela B. Wade. She is helping me to put the book in order and has pointed out a few flaws that I would never have noticed on my own.

If you are an indie author, I strongly recommend that you consider working with a professional editor like Angela B. Wade. If you feel like a professional is outside of your budget, then, at the very least, find a teacher or other wordsmith in your life that is willing to give your manuscript a once-over before you launch.

You will be surprised at how many mistakes a fresh set of eyes can find.

Why Bloggers Should Include Pinterest Pins in Their Posts

Building a Launch Team

One of the reasons for today’s post is that I am looking to build a launch team. There are two main reasons.

One, as I just mentioned, Getting Home will soon be re-released. I would love some help spreading the word.

Two, my current work-in-progress, Paradise, is also nearly complete for book one. My goal is to have it live on Amazon by mid-October, which means I have a lot of work to do between now and then.

I am coming to each of you to ask for help. In the coming days, I will be creating Facebook groups for each book. Please consider applying to join my launch team. In addition to my eternal gratitude, you will also receive a copy of the book when it goes live.

 

Shuttle launch

What Does a Launch Team Do?

Many of us have done book tours, whether online or in person. Developing a launch team is very similar. All I would ask from you is that you read the advance copy I will send to you and then leave an honest review once the book goes live. It would also be great if you were willing to post about the launch on your blog or social media accounts.

Now, I don’t want to cross any lines, especially with Amazon. If I send you an advanced reader copy (ARC) copy of either book, you are under no obligation to write a final review. I would love it if you would, but would fully understand if you did not. It would be good to include in your review that you received an ARC, but I don’t think it’s a requirement.

Please reach out to me if you have any more questions on launch teams.

You Gotta Have Help

Another huge change I have made in my daily life was adding CrowdFire to help me keep up with my social media accounts. I was spending hours each week on social media, primarily on Twitter and Facebook.

I still spend a fair amount of time on each platform, but CrowdFire has cut out a lot of the I spent posting to separate platforms and keeping up with followers and unfollowers.

CrowdFire has a free option, so you can check it out and see if it is something that will work for you. For me, it has saved me hours each week and worth every penny I paid for the upgrade. It also will help you post and repost blog posts and will post to Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Shopify, Etsy, Vimeo and more.

The biggest way it is saving me time is by helping me add new followers and remove those that have chosen to stop following me or become inactive. It turns out, over the last eight months, I have unknowingly followed a large number of spam accounts.

Those accounts become inactive in time and bloat your numbers when it comes to the accounts you are following. Removing those inactive accounts gives you room to follow new, legitimate accounts.

The best news? It only takes about 10 minutes a day to keep things up to date, and you can do it all from the CrowdFire app right on your phone. Honestly, I do it most mornings before I even get out of bed.

The Versatile Blogger Award – Wolfe Butler’s Take

The World of Self-Publishing

When I self-published in November 2017, I knew nothing about the subject. I thought I had done a lot of research in advance, but the months that have followed have taught me just how little I knew at the time, and how little I still know today.

To help me grow, I have teamed up with a self-publishing group. I will be posting more about this in the near future. The short story is they are teaching me about book design, layout, and effective book promotion. I can’t wait to share everything with you in the coming weeks.

That said, I will also be sharing my updates on how self-publishing is working for me. Hopefully, that will mean lots of success story posts.

 

Ice plant

My Yard Hates Me

Okay, so maybe that statement is a little harsh, but I am really struggling this year, and I’m not sure what I’ve done wrong. I’ve had both pampas grass and knock-out roses die this year. Pampas grass! I didn’t know it could even die.

The Ice Plant I wrote about in Why You Should Drop Back And Punt is still not blooming, though it’s supposed to bloom all summer, and even my impatiens, which are one of my favorite flowers of summer, are barely blooming this year.

The only things I can think of is that we’ve had a lot more rain and a much cooler summer this year than normal. If you have any tips, please let me know.

There’s No Time to Read

Last, I want to comment on my lack of book reviews. With everything going on in my world right now, plus trying to still do some freelance writing, there has been very little time to read. That means that the books I have from talented authors like O.J. Lowe and Caron Allan are being neglected.

While I will eventually (probably not until winter) get to those books, I do want to see more reviews go live on this blog. To that end, I am talking to a few other bloggers and reviewers about posting their reviews on my site. Again, more on this will be coming soon.

If you are interested in writing a guest post book review for my site, please send me a note through the Contact Page link. Also, if you are interested in becoming part of my next launch team, please contact me as well.

That’s it for today. Thank you for stopping by. Don’t forget to check out CrowdFire for social media management. The free version will give you a good idea as to whether it is the right tool for you.

Blogs grow through word of mouth. If you enjoyed this post, please share it with others.

Wolfe Butler shares what's new with his personal blogger experience. | #blog #blogging #WolfeButler

 

The Versatile Blogger Award – Wolfe Butler’s Take

It was a wonderful surprise to sign on to Twitter a few days ago and see I was nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award by the lovely and talented blogger behind the Searching For Humor Blog.

Now, let me start by saying I don’t understand these blog awards. I have seen several variations in my last eight months of actively pursuing blogging. Though there are lots of nominations, it doesn’t seem to ever lead to a grand prize winner. Instead, at least to me, it seems a lot like those chain letters we sometimes did in school.

For you millennials, once upon a time, long before everyone had a cell phone in their pocket (and dinosaurs still roamed the earth), young people actually wrote things down on paper. Then that paper was folded into some crazy shape (the triangular football was my go-to). Those notes were then secretly passed in class or handed off to a friend in the hallway between classes.

Some of those notes were chain letters of sort. You had to rewrite the top of the letter exactly as it was, but the lower half, you had to answer questions about yourself. Some questions were silly and some embarrassing, but it was all about fun, so everyone did it.

This format reminds me very much of those paper notes. So, while I may not participate in every blogger award, since this is my first, and I’m feeling more than a little nostalgic, here goes.

 

 

The Versatile Blogger Award

 

The rules for the versatile blogger award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you with a link to their blog.
  • Share 7 things about yourself.
  • Nominate bloggers for the award.

 

Thank you, India!

No, I’m kidding, but now that song will be stuck in my head.

I mean thank you, Searching For Humor Blog! It means a great deal that you think enough of my blog and me to nominate me for this fun prize.

If you have never visited Searching For Humor Blog, head on over now and check it out. The blogger writes funny and entertaining stories that revolve around her visiting places that were featured in books she read. Every post is a treat, so be sure to bookmark or follow her page so you can stay up to date.

7 Things About Me

So, this one is a little tricky for me. I just put up an About Page only a few days ago that has 10 things about me, but let’s see. Maybe I can come up with seven more.

 

1. I have a serious weakness for Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Yes, hello, my name is Wolfe Butler, and I am a Krispy Kreme-aholic. Addict? Not sure.

In any case, if I am any where near a Krispy Kreme shop and that big, red “Hot!” sign is on, lookout. I may have been known to eat an entire dozen in one sitting. Maybe. I mean, how can you not. They literally melt in your mouth, so it’s barely like eating anything. Just don’t tell my doctor.

 

2. I’m a serious sci-fi geek.

It doesn’t matter whether books, TV shows, or movies, I love science fiction. From Star Wars to Star Trek and all the Stargates, Babylon 5, and Andromeda, etc. in the middle. I love it all.

For books, I’m a huge fan of Michael Crichton. I’ve read all but a few of his books, including the non-sci-fi ones.

For TV, my favorites right now are probably Dark Matter, The Orville, and all the Netflix and CW superhero shows, especially The Flash and Supergirl. How can you not love Melissa Benoist? She’s cute as can be and sings like an angel. If only they would let her sing more often on the show.

 

3. I used to call my wife, “Buddha.”

Now, before any of you ladies get upset with me, it had nothing to do with her size or shape. Instead, it was a silly conversation we had late one night about how we were the gods or our dreams, and how in dreams, you can make almost anything happen. I think she was the one that said if she was a god she would be Buddha.

However, after a friend got offended when I said it in public, because she did not know the backstory, I stopped. From then on, I called my wife Lizzy, in honor of Elizabeth Bennett, the star of my wife’s favorite book. (I’m not offended that I was not her favorite author.) My dear wife was named Laramie Elizabeth, so it wasn’t completely without merit.

 

4. Once upon a time, I was a stamp collector.

It was a hobby I did with my maternal grandmother. She passed when I was fairly young, so I inherited her collection. Sadly, I never really did anything with it after that time. The whole collection now sits neatly boxed on one of my book shelves.

 

5. I’m a horrible public speaker.

If you need something written, I’m your man. I’m not a master by any means, but I can string written words together fairly well.

Stand me in front of a group of people, and suddenly, I can barely speak my own name. It is so bad that my wife actually banned me from public speaking. For that reason, it is good I took the indie author route, because there’s less chances to speak when you don’t have a publishing house behind you.

6. I did everything wrong in publishing my debut novel.

Two weeks ago, I broke down and hired a professional editor. (More on this in a future post.) Even though I promised myself I would walk away from Getting Home, I am back in the depths of it. I am disgusted with all the gaping holes and punctuation errors I am finding.

If you have not read it yet, DON’T! Please give me a couple of months to get the revision complete. Then it will be republished with both a new cover and new chapters and will hopefully be a respectable offering to the indie community.

7. My favorite color is periwinkle.

Okay, so no making fun of me. For years, I told everyone that my favorite color was black. Indeed, before I married, nearly all my clothes were black or white. My dear Laramie changed that and insisted I pick a “real color.” Nothing so “boring as a primary color” was allowed.

The short list came down to coral and periwinkle. Since I look yellow in coral shirts, my wife helped me see the wisdom of periwinkle. The ironic thing is, I don’t own a single article of clothing in that color, but my bedroom is painted periwinkle. If my wife was still here, she would love it.

 

And The Nominees Are:

Next, I need to nominate some great bloggers. Please bear with me. This was a difficult choice. On top of there being so many wonderful blogs to choose from, many of my favorites have recently been nominated for the same or a similar award.

Here is my list. Out of fairness to everyone, blogs are listed in alphabetical order by blog name.

 

Author Taylor MacNeill

Taylor is an author and blogger. Last I heard from her, she is currently revising her novel, The Darkest Side of the Moon, but the first edition can be purchased in the interim. Visit her blog or follow her on Twitter to learn more. She’s a great Twitter friend as well.

 

Beckie’s Mental Mess

Beckie posts creative writing and life experience posts while also working to help promote mental health awareness. Her posts are authentic and entertaining. Be sure to visit her.

 

Caron Allan Fiction

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that Caron is my number one fan, or at least I keep telling her that she is. She has been extremely supportive and helpful in my blogging journey.

She writes blog posts that make me chuckle and has six mysteries available on Amazon. Criss Cross: Friendship can be murder is currently free for the Kindle version. Once you read one of her novels, you will want to read them all. Caron is also an awesome Twitter friend to have, so be sure to follow her.

 

Dave’s Draw

Dave’s Draw is a blog I just stumbled upon a few days ago, but I am very impressed so far. The posts I’ve read so far are light, smart, and full of good information. Be sure to go visit and check it out.

 

R. A. Allen Author

R. A. Allen writes a lot about writing. I am always fascinated on her unique take to various writing endeavors and techniques. Many of her posts are related to mind mapping. Visit her page to learn more.

 

The Past Due Review

I’ve been following The Past Due Review for about a month. What I love about this site is the nostalgia. Rather than write about the newest movies and books, this blogger chooses to concentrate on topics from years gone by. The most recent post is about The Sandlot, which was released in 1993. For a trip down memory lane, be sure to stop by this blog.

 

Waking Up on the Wrong Side of 50

Finishing off today’s list is Waking Up on the Wrong Side of 50. The blogger takes a very eclectic approach and shares much about her own life, her triumphs, and challenges. Every post is enjoyable, so be sure to visit soon.

 

 

Wrapping Up

I want to be sure to thank Searching For Humor Blog for thinking of me when it came to nominating fellow bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award. Though I may not participate again, it was fun to write this blog and I am honored that you thought enough of me to include me in your list.

I also want to thank you, my dear readers. Your visits and comments bring so much light and joy into my world. I appreciate each and every one of you.

To any of my blogger friends that I did not list today, I apologize. I could have easily listed another 20 blogs or more, but I’ll save the remainder of that list for future posts. Please don’t give up on me.

Until next time…

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with others. Thank you in advance!

The Versatile Blogger Award recognizes unique and up-and-coming blogs and bloggers. | #blog #blogging #blogger

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

 

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.

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

Tale of a New Blogger – Part 4 – Path to Becoming a Successful Blogger

It’s been a roller coaster ride. Blogging is a new adventure every day. Some are great. Some… well let’s stay positive. So it goes on the path to becoming a successful blogger.

For the most part, it’s a fantastic journey.

This blog went live in November 2017. In this series, I am sharing my real blogging experience as a newbie and as it happens. Share in my triumphs and downfalls as I continue to learn how to be a better blogger.

Work! Work! Work!

If you want to be a successful blogger, you have to be prepared to work. I continue to be surprised at how much time it takes.

To blog with the ultimate goal of making a living from your blog, you must be willing to put in the time along with the blood, sweat and oh so many tears.

Don’t get me wrong, I am having a blast. Every night as I am preparing for bed, I think about how thankful I am to be living the life of a writer.

I really hated the last years of my career in financial services. But this, blogging, I enjoy every day.

Even the days with less than anticipated results.

In total, I spent just over 100 hours on my blog in March 2018. Just glancing at the numbers I can see some of my mistakes.

Actually, my number one mistake was fear. I am so concerned about money coming in that I am sacrificing my blog time to take freelance gigs.

The tradeoff means that my blog isn’t growing at the rate I would like.

For the remainder of April, my goal is to produce more quality content each week, promote more on Pinterest and to learn as much as I can about successful blogging.

 

 

Continue to Learn

In Part 3 of this series, I mentioned how my assistant has joined Billionaire Blog Club. Unfortunately, his time in March was also commandeered by things outside of his control.

What he has learned so far has been really helpful. Together, we have been working to increase SEO and Pinterest presence following the tips that Scrivs and other bloggers share through the Billionaire Blog Club network.

If you have thought about joining a blogging community, BBC is the one you want to join. The wonderful bloggers in the community have created an atmosphere or encouragement and support.

BBC is only going to be opened for limited time periods so that the owner, Paul Scrivens, or Scrivs, can concentrate on helping all of the members without being spread too thin.

But even if the program isn’t currently open, I can’t recommend the Free Blogging Boot Camp enough.

It’s a great way to get a better idea of whether blogging is for you. You will also see Scrivs style so you can decide if it’s a good fit for you. Being part of the Boot Camp also means you’ll be notified the next time BBC opens to new members.

Blogging is not for everyone, and neither is BBC. That said, I do think it will be an important tool in becoming a successful blogger. We are really enjoying the program so far and learning a lot.


Promote More

The one area I feel like a successful blogger for last month is social media. My Twitter account has finally reached a point where it continues to grow organically whether I am able to get online or not.

Pinterest, with the help of both Billionaire Blog Club and the wonderful course I purchased from Carly Campbell, Pinteresting Strategies, is showing real improvement.

March 2018 Daily Views

You can see from both images that I didn’t really get serious about Pinterest until near the end of March. But the impact has been phenomenal.

Average daily impressions for the prior month were just 335. But this month they were 1,553, and that’s with not really getting active until the end of the month.

March 2018 Monthly View Average

I can’t wait to see the final numbers for April 2018!

Another things that has really pushed the Pinterest growth was adding Tailwind. I started with the free trial and fell in love.  Tailwind is like having an assistant to handle some of my work for me, and I can’t imagine working with out it.

I upgraded to a higher level to have access to more options, but this investment will pay for itself in no time.

 

 

Interact

Visitors to my blog were down in March. Page views remained pretty consistent.

I am honestly not sure what caused the drop. There was less content published in March and that no doubt makes up part of the difference.

April is off to a great start and traffic is starting to roll in from Pinterest. These numbers should change a lot in my next report.

Connect with me on Pinterest

As you can see, Facebook and Instagram were a little neglected in March. Both still saw some growth so I am happy with that.

Twitter is probably the channel I enjoy the most. Of my now 7000+ followers, almost all of them are creators and most are authors or bloggers.

Being part of such a large community of writers gives me the encouragement I need to keep writing day after day, and will in time lead me to become a successful blogger.

 

Where’s the cash?

Earn?

My hope was to be one of those bloggers that had an amazing income story to tell after just a few months.

The truth is, in March I earned maybe $1.00 in total. I am not even going to look for the numbers because I know they are quite low.

There is no one to blame for this downfall but me. I have been so concerned with immediate money coming in that I forgot the time spent on my blog is an investment in my future to become a successful blogger.

That said, moving forward I am scheduling time to work on and promote the blog each day. The numbers may not increase a lot in April, but I am confident that the May numbers will show results.

12 Awesome Motivational Quotes You Should Know

Recharge

Having a blog means there is always something you can be doing. It’s important to take time to step away from you computer or phone to recharge.

I read a post over the weekend, 50 Unique Self-Care Ideas, and it got me thinking that it has been far too long since I have spent any time on just me.

Down time and excursions are now being added to my calendar like anything else I need to do.

An income is worthless if you aren’t finding enjoyment in life.

Don’t get me wrong, I love blogging. But my friends were missing me. And I was missing them.

50 Unique Self-Care Ideas for Mental Health

Takeaway

In conclusion, here’s a summary of what I learned this month:

  1. Community is important. Billionaire Blog Club is giving me the support and encouragement I need to really grow. Go visit Scrivs site today.
  2. Learning is important. What I learned through Pinteresting Strategies has helped create real and tangible growth on Pinterest. Take a moment to visit Carly.
  3. Investing is important. Really it’s a not a significant amount if you choose the monthly option, less than most people spend at Starbucks each month. Tailwind is growing my Pinterest base even when I can’t be manually pinning.
  4. Recharging is important. Take yourself on a date. Just you and you alone. 50 Unique Self-Care Ideas has many great ideas to help you recharge.

Until next time…