It can be quite hard coming up with ideas for making your blog work for you. By that I mean help you generate traffic to your blog, help you to establish yourself as the go-to person in your niche, or how to generate income from your blog (whether directly or indirectly). However, I recently came across a blog post that suggests 90 ways to “make your blog rock”. It’s pretty good.
In 90 Tips To Make Your Blog Rock, Jeff Bullas gives plenty of very useful tips. Not all of them are specifically to do with blogging as such. For example, he suggests ways of using Linked-in and Twitter as part of your overall blogging strategy.
He also includes tips that are relevant, but which you may not have thought of. For example, Tip #43 says:
“In the meta tags for your photos, make sure the labels/words are what you want them to be – search engines can’t “read” photos, only the labels/meta tags.”
Much of the advice is geared to earning money from your blog, so if that isn’t your prime concern not all of his suggestions will be relevant. Nevertheless, given that many consist of just one or two lines, it won’t take you long to whizz through them and select the ones you like best.
I would think that just implementing one or two of his suggestions each day would start to make a difference within a very short period of time.
I'm in the process of collating top tips and resources about designing ebook covers. I've compiled a list of useful links (see below), which I'm adding to continually, but if you have any advice based on experience it would be interesting to hear about it.
There's a brief questionnaire here.
For myself, I'm not totally convinced that ebooks need covers (some Kindle publishers don't include it anyway). However, I tend to create them anyway, usually using a combination of Flickr, Word and Paint.net.
But I'm sure there must be better options, especially for arrtistically-challenged people such as myself!
I’m involved in a great 5 week course (free!) for teachers called "Crafting your own ebook". I’ll be leading a session soon on the subject of designing a book cover, and although I’ve found some great resources, I thought I’d turn to the community to find out what tips and/or websites others might suggest.
If you could spare five minutes to take part in this survey it would be brilliant! I’ll be sharing the results of the survey and the resources I’ve already found on this website in due course.
The only thing wrong with Spark London is that it is confined to London, which is only to be expected of course! However, the good news for people who like the idea of story-telling as a way to improve their writing (see 4 ways that Spark London is good for writers) is that there are story-telling clubs and events all over Britain.
February 1st to the 8th is National Story-telling week, and the associated website – which is called, perhaps unsurprisingly, National Story-telling week – contains a wealth of resources such as events listings, club listings and how-to guides.
Take a look now, because some of the activities listed take place this week!
If you listen to blues songs, you will discover that amongst the angst, the stories of “my baby done packed her suitcase and caught the midnight train” (they must have amazing rail services in the USA because all the trains seem to depart at midnight), and being down and out, there are some real glimpses of a deeper Truth, with a capital “T”.
Take, for example, Muddy Waters’ heartfelt pronouncement,
“You can’t spend what you ain’t got,
and you can’t lose something that you ain’t never had.”
So true. And if the something “you ain’t never had” is the inspiration that comes from listening to incidents and insights from other people’s lives, then as a writer you are, dear reader, missing out.
Spark London is an event at which people tell stories --true stories -- that involve themselves. But story-telling? What has that got to do with technology and writers?
Well, Spark London is a podcast too, which is how I first came across it. This week I simply decided to attend the live event instead of just waiting around for the next podcast episode to be published.
I’m glad I did. Even though I write mainly non-fiction, I am interested in story-telling techniques. I am, you might say, interested in creative non-fiction writing. But the experience would be useful for writers of fiction too, for the following reasons.
Obviously you cannot simply steal other people’s experiences without permission, but you could certainly use them to explore aspects of living that you may not have considered before.
For example, one person at the event talked about his big hands. That’s something I have never thought about previously, except in the context of musing that, had Beethoven not had such big hands, maybe his piano music would have been easier to play.
The strapline of Spark London is “Connecting people through stories”, but of course you can make connections with other people simply by turning up and talking to them!
I met the host for the evening, Dave Pickering, whom I found out runs an event called Stand Up Tragedy (which I must get to one of these days).
Dave introduced me to Sonja Todd, who it turns out hosts some Spark London events. Sonja told me about Dave’s podcast called Getting Better Acquainted, in which he interviews “ordinary” people. I’ve listened to one and a bit podcasts and found them very engaging.
Sonja also told me about another podcast called Answer Me This, which by all accounts is pretty good, and therefore on my “must listen to” list.
And Sonja introduced me to her friend Charley Lucy Harrison, a comedian, resident blogger of Stand Up Tragedy, and host of Spark London. She made the video below about Spark London. She is also the host of a comedy club she founded called See You Next Thursday.
Ya gotta admit: that web of connections would probably make the basis of a really interesting story in itself.
What I was not expecting at all was discovering that I have had the creative side of my grey matter exercised even by the events that, unfortunately, I am unable to attend. For example, I can think of a really humorous story I could relate about Fame, which is the theme of a forthcoming event.
The challenge of every writer is to avoid being too verbose. For me, one of the distinguishing features of good writing from poor writing is that the latter will have more than its fair share of extraneous words or phrases. Like “actually”, for example: it is rarely needed, as neither is that “for example” because I had already written “like”, which means exactly the same as “for example”!
Well, when you have a time limit of only five minutes in which to relate a story, you have to choose your words carefully, which is a good skill for writers to develop.
If you’re serious about writing you must listen to Spark London stories on their podcast. If possible get along to one of their events too, or seek out a true story-telling event where you live.