The A to Z Blogging Challenge ends here.

I think that joining the A to Z Blogging Challenge has proven very productive even though I'm ending it prematurely. It showed me what I need to do and what mindset/heart I need to take my blogging in the direction I want and need.

The blogging contest has also opened my eyes to many bloggers I now have and will follow as well as the motivation to keep exploring. Blogging offers a much different world than more standardized article writing and is most appealing.

I'm going to spend a couple weeks making up for lost time on my paid writing job and go from there. I must choose also between my business site and penning a book for my next major focus. 

I want to thank both Alex J. Cavanaugh and Marie from Write, Wrong or Indifferent for the inspiration and I hope to have an update posted here in reasonable time. 


H is for HellBound Bloggers: What digital marketers can learn from porn

H is for Hellbound Bloggers? Oh, that's nice. Who? And more importantly, why?

Of note, I'm behind on an A to Z blogging contest and today is H-day. I haven't given up on blogging but am renovating my writing life -- and it's messy, excuse the saw dust -- to make it more productive, profitable, manageable and enjoyable.

Since my last post, I came across a site called HellBound bloggers that left an impression on me, not least was an article entitled "Blogging tactics from porn." This explains the conspicuous looking video below.

Porn parody from Rama's Screen.

I don't like objectionable material thrown in my (or others') face and while not squeaky clean it's about as risqué as an entertainment magazine cover and presents some useful information for writers who are entrepreneurial minded-- interested in branding that is for selling e-books or otherwise.

Neither the article or video are revolutionary -- or even brilliant -- many worthwhile considerations are not -- bread ties for example.

And it's not a how-to but it may inspire some creative thoughts. It may also provide insight as to why content may be trumped by presentation for better and worse.

Digressive Thought: Which reminds me I need to update/follow up on my 2007 article, What Writers Need to Know About Video Publishing, the industry was in its infancy then, to include promotion.

Seven Things You Can Learn From Porn if you are a Digital Marketer from ed celis on Vimeo.

Presentation Outline
Content drives tech
Recycle (or re-purpose)
**Packaging matters
Own it  -- your club, shop, portal or channel
Move fast!
Perception is (often) the larger element of your product
Specialty content sells


Gaming addiction: balancing life as a writer and gamer

Not surprisingly, a gaming addiction can trash your productivity, if not your career, as a writer, but so too can less serious forms of "gaming enthusiasm."

When I required an extended leave from my work as a writer, I was "very involved" in gaming myself. My last bout was with a MMORPG which might have exacerbated the problem. The only two I ever played ultimately extended beyond the realm of healthy entertainment.

While I've been a gaming enthusiast since my first PC game in '87, many years have passed as gameless and the hobby wasn't missed much if at all.

OK, so there was a little twinge looking through screenshots.
Warning: If your screenshot folder exceeds your family album photos in number, there might be a problem.

I don't know if writers are more prone to addictions, but writing itself can become a rather serious form of escapism -- and such is usually my favored form -- so it would seem feasible.

At least writing pays the bills though, which makes it more acceptable -- socially and practically speaking -- unless your family hasn't seen you in days, that is.

As for how I dealt with the problem of unhealthy gaming enthusiasm is that when I had to return to work, basically I became my own parent. I set a rule for myself not to turn on a game until I had accomplished what I intended to for the day.

Sounds simple because it is; it's having the will and mindset to do it that is less so, if there really is a problem.

The first few attempts, much like a rebellious child being disciplined to eat their dinner before moving on to dessert, were not 100 percent successful.

With deadlines looming though, there was no grey area, it was pass or fail, paycheck or no paycheck and soon enough I was on track.

Writers with self-imposed deadlines (be it for a book or blog) may struggle a bit with the temptation to say, "just one more day and I'll get back on track."

The good news is that while true gaming addiction may pose serious consequences to one's mental health and relationships, on the scale of addictions -- to include to chocolate, caffeine and cigarettes -- it seems rather easy to break, once committed.


F is for Fever: passion and how to reclaim it, motivated by Peggy Lee

F is for fever and Peggy Lee's song expresses how I felt about Jim from the first day we met until the day he died. I'd been listening to some sad songs and multilaterally depressing news prior to that today. While doing so I happened upon Peggy Lee's Fever -- Thanks to David Choi who mentioned another song of hers on twitter: "Is That All there Is."

(David, you have a new fan re: "Hey Jude" and Nat King Cole--more on that later). So, soon into "Fever," I felt healthy, vibrant and full of life as I recalled the source of these feelings.

I hadn't thought about Lee's version of passion -- love, yes -- in my marriage since that day in June 2010 that stripped it away ...until now. Maybe I was afraid to, thinking it would be too much to miss that too. And I would say passion came second to soul and mind connectedness and friendship. But I underestimated its importance.

It only took seconds for the the song to invigorate and rejuvenate me.

Before my husband and I met, I experienced diluted and convoluted  forms of love and passion and envious of those who had the "real deal." -- as was Jim.

And now when I witness this in other couples on comparatively rare occasion, it makes me smile...rather than be sad. In other words...it stuck because it became a part of me, even as it lied buried.

This shows me that I can reclaim that sense of aliveness I felt and reaffirm it from external sources -- maybe even funnel it again in a creative way. 

May you find your fever too and embrace it. 

I had not realized how many times the song Fever had been remade as its lyrics held no copyright.

Ray Charles and Natalie Cole's version is another version I like. I like that the older version's allow you to define "Fever" in your mind. I can't say that Beyonce Knowles or Lady Gaga's version are in sync with the imagery of Romeo & Juliet or Pocahontas & John Smith or leave anything to the imagination via their videos.


Examiner, is it worth it to be one? Pros and cons

Today I wrote for one of my favorite sites Examiner. Why do I like them, what are the benefits and is it worth it for you to give them a try?

This topic comes up frequently enough among peers and the commentary varies as widely as the quality of Examiners. The reasons for poor monetization may lie with the writer, the topic, reliance on search, timing  and/or other factors. 

I am both a local and national examiner (though have retired the former for now) but as some may know I haven't published much lately. My reasons are unrelated to Examiner directly, at least for the national beat.
Let me start with the benefits of Examiner, as I see them, before you proceed to the wall of text I hadn't planned on writing.

  • Quality education to include multimedia, self-paced formats
  • Payment per 1000 page views is above average
  • Attractive newsletter
  • Remote publishing
  • Self-editing and multimedia capability
  • Reputation
    (which had fallen, but is geared towards improvement)
  • Tech, social media and ad savvy

Examiner wants writers

The only cons I can think of is lack of upfront pay and variable search engine rankings. So why did they bring back the $50 referral fee for new writers? 

It's awesome but there seems to be no lack of writers needing to boost their coffers. Therefore, I am making an educated guess that the pool has been reduced significantly (unless it's just an aggressive expansion). That may be a really good thing...or not. 

The Good Scenario: If it is due to a significant loss of writers from the Google Panda/Farmer Update, this could be a positive: whereby if it is limited largely to providers of low quality content and aggressive SEO.

If these providers jumped ship, that is good. Site quality, reputation and potentially search engine ranking would improve for quality writers and photographers.  

The Bad Scenario: Good writers are and have been hurt by the Farmer update as well. So working without upfront pay the effort may not be unsustainable. 

There is a middle ground --in treating it as a revenue stream or hobby. That may be where much of the variance lies too with results, but  frequent publishing won't guarantee decent earnings, either

As a Web Buzz Examiner, my topics are most interesting and enjoyable to write about.

My experience

In my experience, the local Examiner route is more difficult, either requiring a local interest network or connections and/or be one of the minority who performs well with organic search traffic for a niche topic. This can be developed but it would be easier for someone more involved with their community than I am with mine as a relative newcomer.    

For a local topic, I would check out the potential competition and viable interest via search and choose your topic carefully with some investigation.

I find that my National Topic does fairly well and has a lot of potential. It has ranked in Google News since I returned from hiatus, but not consistently.

My publishing frequency may very well play a role. Also, for news it appears there is a need to be the first or one of the first out with a topic in some cases. If you are a news writer wanting to claim a news topic I would investigate this further. Some feeds may perform steadily. 

As for today, my article did not index in news but it was syndicated to several sites, including Forbes.Therefore I remain optimistic not much has changed in the last month.
(update:  My article did index several hours later in G News and there was a site revamp in process)

The only reason I don't write for Examiner regularly, to make a long story short, is my commitments elsewhere. But given that I enjoy the variation and creative freedom -- and the platform -- I intend to when it is feasible. Otherwise I have to prioritize upfront payment first as do many writers.  

As mentioned, mileage varies, so feel free to share your experience. 

And the A-Z Blogging contest continues ...funny thing, as it's past day's end, and I was going to say E is for Examiner and simply say that I wrote there in so many words. -- I wanted to cheat and take a short cut but ended up with two paid articles worth of content. Blogging! Gotta love it. 


Deliver what your audience needs: or is blogging just about you?

Think of the most successful blogs you know and what do they have in common? They deliver or cater to a need. Ranging in scope from Mashable to memoirs, the most followed blogs deliver something useful.

From clearly defined tangible needs for knowledge and entertainment to more esoteric forms that touch the heart and mind, it is easy to see the difference between an author that cares about their audience and one authored by someone really just digs themself and their own interests.

I have read several blogs over the last week (for the #atozchallange) -- several of which I enjoy and respect by the way--from aspiring, professional and dedicated bloggers as well as from people looking to make a quick and easy buck. The most followed are those that "do something" for their audience.

I blog...
That's nice, but do your readers care?

You don't have to be Florence Nightingale

Of course we bloggers care about click-through rates and our egos -- to include the need to boost them. Many of us simply love creative outlets. If we didn't have some self-interest we'd stick to private journaling.

So what's the problem?

There isn't one unless you are not reaching your professional and financial goals. If the goal is to expand your audience and profits, write with both in mind.

27+1 Tips for Building and Maintaining a Blog Audience offers several useful tips for those who want to expand their readership and step-up their blogging efforts. It is by no means comprehensive but offers a constructive and clear basis to start from.

 It is time consuming indeed to be a professional blogger, and requires far more than simply being smart, witty, clever or passionate. It's a job for a select few.

For those who are content with improvement -- a good start! -- rather than becoming a 5-6 figure income-generating blogger, that can be more easily accommodated, just scale your efforts accordingly -- with your audience and end goal in mind.


Copywriter: 40 smart questions for clients

While I had a boatload of "C" words in mind, the word for today is copywriter, courtesy of Copyblogger.

Originally, I had intended either "copyright infringement" or "color" -- and there was one other, but I forget. Unfortunately, the biggest C-phrase on the mind  today is,"crappy day," so I'm both cranky and cutting corners.

The good news is the following content saved the day as far as the A to Z  blog contest and otherwise worth considering.

The article, "40 Questions You Need to Ask Every Copywriting Client," offers valuable advice for many a freelancer who deals with clients.

Granted, a lot of it is written with a marketing or website copywriter in mind but several examples can be employed as is and/or can be tweaked to fit a freelance writer's needs.

What is most appealing about the advice is that there is a good balance between gaining and losing a potential client, one that minimizes the extremes of offering services for pennies on the dollar to losing a client from a refusal to negotiate ... or at least communicate.

Here is an example:

"40. If you’re considering turning me down based on price, could you let me know so I can consider rebidding? If you’re worried about whether you’ve bid too high and you really want this client, this question could keep you in the running."

I employed many of the strategies with clients who I created websites and marketing copy for. The questions regarding competition worked very well in defining the goals of the copy. Also I printed the questions out as well as kept an email version when face-to-face meetings were impractical. And obviously now these meetings are far less in demand than 5 plus years ago.

How many C-words did I use? I, uh, lost...count.