Wednesday, September 02, 2009

 

Fantastic Photos: Use Pictures to Enhance Your Blog Part I


People like images, white space, and easy-to-read fonts when they are reading blogs and websites. A full page of small, cursive-type text with one or two paragraph breaks and no photos may not be read even if it contains the secret to becoming a millionaire. A question I often hear bloggers and writers ask is, "Where do you find photos that are not copyrighted?"

The source I use the most often on my blog and when I write for Demand Studios and Bright Hub is Flickr. It is super easy to get a free account on Flickr and to find photos on any topic. People upload their photos into different levels of copyright protection. I mostly use Creative Commons at the lowest level. This means that I can download other people's photos, give them credit on my blog (by putting their user name and http://www.flickr.com/), and use their photo for free. Currently, there are over 15 million photos in this lowest, easiest to use level of Flickr Creative Commons photos.
You can also find over 5 million photos in the next level of Creative Commons. This is where you must give the photographer credit for the photo, and you can not change the image in anyway through Photoshop or some other means. So, as of now (and the number is always increasing), there are over 20 million photos at your disposal for free to use on your blog or website.

When I want a photo, I just do a search in the Creative Commons photos with keywords. For example, on my post about how I was going to change the format of my blog, "Read These Books and Use Them," I wanted a picture about change. So, I typed in change as my keyword. Believe it or not, I got this great photo that depicted exactly what I wanted to depict.
Besides Flickr, you can also use Photobucket, which was recommended to me by Annette Fix, author of The Break-Up Diet. I haven't used this photoshare site personally, but Annette uses it for her blogs!

Stay tuned for some more tips on putting photos on your blogs and websites when I post again for The Muffin with part two of "Fantastic Photos."
Until then,

Margo Dill



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Monday, August 24, 2009

 

Part Two: Will Your Blog Bring You Fortune and Fame?

My last blog post about blogging, Will Your Blog Bring You Fortune and Fame? (Part One), discussed my observations about successful blogging after reading Julie & Julia by Julie Powell and thinking about making changes to my own year-old blog. I said I had a few more observations to make and would continue it with Part Two, and so here is the much-anticipated list (LOL):

  • Blog every day or on a regular schedule: I have heard this advice over and over again; and now, I believe it is true! You have to make things easy for your reader. The Muffin (this blog you are reading now) is never stale. Every day, there is new material by a member of the WOW! team. There are also different types of posts that will attract different readers--inspiration, writing advice, contest announcements, interviews, and book give-aways. I am now also blogging on a regular schedule with my blog, Read These Books and Use Them. I actually got a Facebook friend request yesterday from someone who reads my blog. I've been blogging on a regular schedule for one week and hosted a blog tour on Friday for an author I met through another contact on Facebook. So, regular blogging with different, interesting content is a must. I am finally learning this lesson.
  • Promote yourself on social media: I know some of you are probably tired of hearing this; but in today's age, this is a must. You have to get out there and network. You have to let people know what you have to offer. There are blogs, blogs, and more blogs. Why is yours worth people's time? Why should people subscribe to yours or check back every few days to see what you have to offer? This is what you let people know on social media. This is where you rely on your real friends and your cyber friends. When I finish this blog post for WOW!, I will put a question on Twitter such as "Do you want to figure out ways to get your blog posts read? Check here for ideas." Then I will provide a link to WOW!'s blog. I also use Facebook a lot, and I am one of those annoying people who have friended everyone I have ever known--including former students who are now in their 20s (Egads!). But it works, and your friends will want to support you and leave comments on your blog and tell other people about you! I have recently seen people leave blog links on LinkedIn also. So, use social media.
  • Make your content worthy of people's time: I can't say I do this every day. I try; I do. But again, it's my opinion if people think the content is as worthy and interesting as I do. If you want to increase your views, find an expert to interview that fits with your blog's theme and find something to giveaway. People will leave questions and comments for the expert for a chance to win the free prize. It works. Try it, and get people to notice your blog.

If you have any more suggestions of things that have worked for you, please, please leave your comments. We'll even take warnings and nevers such as NEVER blog about blah, blah, blah. We're here to learn from each other and figure out our new cyber world!

Happy blogging!
Margo Dill

www.margodill.com

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

 

Start a Stampede to Your Blog

I'll be the first one to admit that I haven't got the faintest idea how to really use my blog effectively to promote my book. I know my key mistakes are: I don't blog as often as I should and I don't have a theme or a solid idea of what direction I want to go with it.

Initially, I had the idea of posting my quirky personal commentary and additional fun insights into the various scenes in my book on the exact days that they appear in the diary entry structure throughout my memoir. And that's what I have done, which you can see here: http://thebreak-updiet.blogspot.com/

But on top of not really being sure about whether this is the best way to blog about my book, I'm also a bit of a technotard when it comes to figuring out how to promote it. So, in my search to find resources to solve some of these deficiencies of mine, I've started to collect useful tips about blogging. And, instead of keeping all this great info to myself, I thought I'd share with our WOW! readers a very helpful article I discovered.

TAG, YOU'RE IT!
by Penny Sansevieri

One of the biggest questions I get from authors is: "I have a blog but how do I get people to it?" Well first off, you want to keep blogging, but there are other things you can do too, and we'll discuss two of the most powerful ones here.

If you've spent any kind of time online you've probably heard the terms: tag or social bookmarking. But what *exactly* do these terms mean?

If you think of the term "tagging" like you would a name tag at a party or networking event it will start to make much more sense. Generally, when you post a blog, it's recommended that you "tag" it with various terms appropriate to the message of the blog. The Wikipedia definition of "tag" is: A tag is a keyword which acts like a subject or category. This keyword is used to organize web pages, subjects, and objects on the Internet.

When you think of it this way, what you're really doing is organizing each of your blog posts so that folks can find and search them. By tagging each of them with specific keywords, you'll come up faster when someone searches those keywords than if you left your blog blank. Make sense? Ok, then let's get started learning how to tag. (I promise, it's very easy.)

When creating tags, there are two types that you can create. You can imbed your blog with tags using services like Technorati (more on that in a minute) or you can go to social networking sites and tag your blog as well. Honestly, I recommend a combination of both.

Social bookmarking is a way of "bookmarking" favorite sites (i.e. yours) so you can easily share them (via tags) with the Internet community and especially folks who are searching on your search term. I'll explain how to get your site bookmarked but, for now, take a look at sites like www.digg.com and del.icio.us.com - these are the top two social bookmarking sites you'll want to use. There are others but we'll discuss these in a minute.

Ok, here we go!

Simple steps to tagging:

1) Create a blog post: just write your blog, don't worry about doing anything different.

2) Identify some keywords you'll want to use: just pick some keywords, as many as you want. Don't worry about getting too scientific with this, just be thorough.

3) Create your tags: head on over to http://www.egmstrategy.com/ice/tag- generator.cfm and generate tags (this will be choice #1). Once you input the keywords make sure the default button is checked at Technorati. Then go to the bottom and click "generate code" - this code will get posted right into your blog. It's that easy! (tip: always post this code at the end of your blog) When you're done you'll see code in your blog like this: http://www.redhotinternetpublicity.com/blog/?p=45

4) Social bookmarking: simply put, you want to tag each of your blog posts in one or all of the following social networking sites. The one slightly time- consuming piece is that you'll need to set up accounts for each of these but once you do, it will take you a minute or so per post to add a social bookmarking tag to each of them. Here are some of the most popular social bookmarking sites you'll want to use: digg.com, Del.icio.us, myweb.yahoo.com (this is still in beta but I recommend using it anyway), blinklist.com, spurl.net, reddit.com, furl.net, and stumbleupon.com

5) Nuts and bolts: each of these sites has a different set of criteria for bookmarking your blog post. If you're blogging every day this might seem pretty tedious. If it's too much work to tag and bookmark each of your posts, handpick a few each week and focus on those. The idea is that you want to get these keywords out in cyberspace so folks can find you.

Ready for a final tip? If you want to impress customers with your endless list of resources why not share your Del.icio.us page with your readers/customers? Del.icio.us gives each registered member their own page with all of their bookmarks. Ideally you'll want to include other resources besides your own blog but a link to this page could be a fantastic way to gain additional exposure not just for your blog, but to your wealth of resources as well. (here's my page: http://del.icio.us/bookmkr)

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

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Now, all I need to do is carve out time to implement Penny's great tips! Give it a try yourself and let me know how it goes!


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Thursday, February 14, 2008

 

365 Days a Year

We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. As a matter of fact, if you ask my husband what date it falls on, he probably wouldn’t be able to tell you.

And I like it that way.


Why? Because he believes we shouldn’t cherish each other on only one day out of an entire year.
We have a special ritual that I believe will keep us happily married all the way into the fairytale sunset.

Each morning, and at different times throughout the day, my husband will ask, “Is there anything I can do for you?” And, after my either yes or no reply, I ask him the same question.


Beyond the obvious and tangible benefit of having a quick errand run or a particular meal prepared, offering to do “anything” for each other is a constant reminder of why we got married in the first place. Love and devotion.
And I’ll take that over a box of chocolates and a bouquet of flowers any day.

This is the kind of support that writers so desperately need—especially writers who are juggling a household: children, domestic responsibilities, and those who work outside of the home as well. The encouragement and support of a loving spouse helps make what we do possible.


So, today, take a break from the computer. Hold up a quick “one-minute” index finger to quiet your chatty characters, push the freelance querying aside, and spend some much needed couple time with your significant other.

If you are single, this is the perfect time to treat yourself to a break. Do something today that makes you blissfully happy. Whether you have fun with good friends or take some quiet time to nurture your soul, be good to yourself.


The writing will be waiting for you tomorrow.


BLOG LOVE
I’d like to thank all of the ladies who offered to promote my memoir, The Break-Up Diet, on their blogs today!

Please stop by and show them some traffic love and read what they are all about.
It's a wonderful and diverse group of ladies with so many great resources to share. Check out their links below.

Allie Boniface
http://allieboniface.blogspot.com/

Angelique H. Caffrey
http://recessforwriters.blogspot.com

Sue Donckels
http://inkbridge.blogspot.com/

Valerie Fentress
www.valeriefentress.com/index.php/blog/

Jennifer Flatten
http://jelf-writes.com/author/jelfwrites/

Sarabeth Gordon
http://nothpnowmommy.blogspot.com

Cher'ley Grogg
http://www.freewebs.com/cherley/index.htm

Cathy Hall
http://cathychall.blogspot.com

Irvina Kanarek http://honestchitchat.wordpress.com

Chynna Laird http://www.ctlaird.bravejournal.com


Tammie McElligott
http://tammiemcelligott.blogspot.com

Anne-Marie Nichols
http://www.thismamacooks.com

Cherie Redinoz
www.over-it.blogspot.com

Debbie Ridpath Ohi
http://www.inkygirl.com (interview)

Lea Schizas
http://branchesoflife.blogspot.com/

Nancy Sharpe
http://nancysharpe.blogspot.com/

Luann Womack
http://foodhistories.blogspot.com

Sandra Vilar http://ssserenity.blogspot.com


Thank you, ladies, for making this a fun and interesting promotion!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

 

Valentine's Day Blog Promo

Ladies,

We're excited to announce the launch of Senior Editor, Annette Fix's memoir, The Break-Up Diet, on Valentine's Day, February 14th.

If you have a blog and would like to participate in this event, then get your dancing shoes on and grab a box of chocolates and we'll promote you!

All you have to do is write a blog post about:

  • Happily-Ever-After
  • Finding Prince Charming
  • Kissing Toads
  • Break-Up Stories
  • Diving into the Dating Pool
  • For the Love of Chocolate

Or, if you just want content to post so you can enjoy your romantic celebration, then you can pick up one of Annette's two blog posts, specially created for this promotion.

One focuses on being single on a "couples" holiday, the other, highlights being in a relationship on Valentine's Day.

Please let us know if you would like to participate, so we can send you the image, book info, and blog post of your choice. If you'd like more information, visit the book website:
http://www.thebreak-updiet.com

All bloggers in the promotion will have their blog listed and linked in the WOW! blog post on Feb. 14th as participating supporters to receive some WOW! Women On Writing traffic-link-love! If you have any blogger friends who may be interested in participating, please feel free to forward this post to them.

Confirm your interest by sending an email to: editors[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com

Much love and happy blogging!

Love Editors of WOW!

Angela & Annette

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