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Blogger-Holic; Theme Addiction

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ilovewpRecently, Sharon Hurley Hall posted about her addiction with Confessions of a Theme-a-Holic. I commented that I have the same addiction, and I mentioned using different themes as inspiration for novels I’m working on.

I recently changed webhosts and haven’t gotten everything up and ready. I threw two of these up real quick to give you a visual.

I have never released my private blogs to the public. I share the links with a few writing friends and that’s it; with the exception of my short stories which I share with family and friends when they ask what I do. I don’t get a lot of time to work on fiction writing because I do quite a bit of freelance writing. When I do get time for fiction, I often need some kind of inspiration and I love WordPress themes for that purpose.

If this sparks your interest, you will need a webhost that allows multiple installs of WordPress and numerous databases. A free WordPress account just doesn’t allow this much freedom. You will notice that all of these are hosted on my site, each with its own folder title—which happens to match the working title pretty well.

SHORT STORIES & FLASH FICTION

The majority of these were written several years ago. The only new work on this blog is writing prompts and some flash fiction I wrote for a lingerie website which discontinued the use of stories. The writing prompts are just free writing (aka unedited) straight out of my head to the keyboard. So, if you’re expecting masterpieces with any of the material I’m sharing today—this isn’t it. You will not find masterpieces on any of these links—these are simply works in progress.

I chose this theme because it looks like a woman’s journal. I set the blog up to show only one post on the main page. I also use the “More” feature found in the dashboard of the posting area. I do this to avoid a long entry. I wanted the whole page to be seen in one frame of the screen.

THE MISADVENTURES OF TOODLES MCDOUGAL

Toodles is a new character of mine. She popped in my head not too long ago, but she’s been very slow to reveal herself. I tried putting her in a mystery novel but she didn’t like that. It seems she’ll be the central character in a series of children’s stories. I find this shocking myself because I’ve never been interested in writing for children. But I adore Toodles, so we’ll she where she goes.

I chose this theme for her, because it just fits her. Imagine a little Scottish lady sitting at her desk with her afternoon tea and crumpets writing about her adventures.

KNIGHTS REALM

This one is a medieval tale; one I’ve had in my head for years—and the hardest one to work on. But, I absolutely love the theme for it. You’ll see why I chose this theme for a story of this nature.

SUMMER BREEZE

This one is a romance with a bit of mystery to it. I chose this theme because it’s light and airy. It doesn’t fully fit the theme of the story but I can live with it—and I do love this theme.

By using themes on my story or character blogs, it fulfils my theme addiction but also serves a purpose as visual stimulation. These are obviously not for professional type blogs—these are merely for personal use. But that would make a great sales platform for books that were published. It would just take a bit of editing and tweaking to turn these into future sales sites.

If you’re wondering about people stealing my material—I don’t worry about it too much. I don’t add much more information than what you see, other than writings from a characters POV—getting inside their head type stuff. It’s mostly notes, thoughts and character work. I don’t use them for the bulk of my writing, just for inspiration or if I want to share something with fellow writers.

As I was preparing this post and grabbing a link from the Blogging Tips site, I noticed Kevin has added a new WordPress theme that’s free to download if you’re a subscriber. Of course I will have to have it. I don’t have a clue where I’ll use it, but when one is addicted to themes—that’s irrelevant.

Patti runs several websites covering PLR/Niche Content, and strives to help others through life coaching and personal development.

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Do Your Homework: How to Do Online Research Before Writing a Blog Post

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Unlike academic research, which we all learn in school and often get bogged down in, online content research is pretty simple. Unfortunately it is that simplicity that can often lead to mistakes, or just bare facts that don’t hold as much detail as our readers could use.

Your pre-content online research consists of two stages. The first is the research you do before, and the second is the research you do during the article writing process.

Pre-Research

Before you write is the pre-research, as in pre-writing. This is where you are going to find your general facts that will support your post. This is also where you are going to draw your primary sources, which will be linked through the body of your content.

I always prefer to follow the 3x rule. You want to find three times as many sources as you will use, and pair them against one another. You keep finding sources in batches of three until you are able to verify each against one another.

This is a simple way to ensure you are finding non-biased, verifiable facts, and not baseless opinions. With misinformation running rampant thanks to lazy bloggers and social media, this is a very important process.

You don’t want to become one of those bloggers posting factual inaccuracies like they are gospel truth. Not only does this add to a serious problem in online content creation, but it impacts your authority. We all know how important that authority is to the growth of a brand.

Your article is going to be broken into sections and subheadings. These will steer your research in many ways giving you more ideas which angles and problems to cover.

Text Optimizer helps you research related questions. TextOptimizer is the semantic research tool that extracts related concepts and questions right from Google search results:

textoptimizer questions

All of these questions may become subheadings of your future article (or inspire follow-up articles). You can export them in Excel and sort them into “existing content”, “currently working on” and “future articles”.

Supporting Research

Next, you have the research you do while you are creating your post. These are supporting details related to the above citations you have found. It is also where you will narrow down the links you intend to embed, if you don’t choose all three supporting posts.

This part is much simpler, and it more about giving readers additional information to follow. Sometimes I just provide a small masterlist of links for more data if the reader chooses, so I can focus more the quality of the content.

6 Tools To Make Research a Breeze

1. Google Drive Research Box

I use Google Drive for pretty much everything, including writing and backing up posts. I find it much more manageable than other cloud services. One of the features I love best is the research box. You highlight a keyword or phrase, and right click. It will have an option to research the highlighted section.

This brings up a side box with related sources, which you can view right in your screen. Because it uses Google results you have to be just as selective as you would be from a straight search, but it is much more convenient. Google Drive includes lots of useful information visualization and organization tools including Google Slides, Google Drawings, and more.

2. Mind Meister

Mind Meister

This is a great tool if you are dealing with a large post that is going to have a lot of involved research. Breaking the task down into simpler, smaller parts is a tried and true tactic.

MindMeister is a mindmapper tool that lets you do that. You can plan out the entire post, including linking sources so everything you need ends up in one place. All using a template that lets you easily move, edit and reformat before you ever get to the writing process.

3. Keyword.io

You may be wondering what an SEO tool is doing here. After all, this is about researching for articles, not for marketing. I would argue that they are technically in the same vein, but that isn’t why I included it.

I have used this tool to create lists of related key phrases I may not have thought of. This helps me to broaden my research based on what people have published or searched for online. So I may end up with sources I never would have found, because I wasn’t using the right combination of keywords.

If you have Yoast plugin installed, you have keyword optimization basically covered. Plus there a few more plugins that will help you keep content research and optimization under control.

4. Digital Research Tool (DiRT)

This is a fantastic masterlist of tools aimed at scholars, especially those in the social science and humanities. However, I think it is a great place for bloggers to find research tools they need for any number of purposes. They are broken down into categories, which you can select on the front page.

You are then taken to the tool that is best for the job at hand. It is the best collection of research redirects I have ever found, and much more efficient than trying to keep track of everything on your own.

5. Quora

Quora

Normally I would avoid social media like the plague when it comes to research. There is just too much garbage floating around, and opinion outweighs facts and logic at almost all times. But I will make an exception for Quora. In spite the fact that it is a platform that is very easy to abuse, it is full of genuine experts with backed up information.

It requires you to offer well thought out answers, and to provide a source or reason for your knowledge. I go there all the time to find great links to scholarly articles, studies, website tools, or to get first hand soundbites from major players in the industry that know about topics first hand.

6. MyBlogU

Speaking of experts, MyBlogU is another great place to find them. I usually go here for expert quotes as part of the secondary research process (finding backup information and supporting details). It is an easy way to add further gravity to something you have already officially cited, straight from the mouths of the people who know best.

Do you have a research tool to put on the list? Let us know in the comments!

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4 Blogging Tips for Freelance Writers

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Freelance writers, do you blog?

You better be blogging.

Running a well-stocked, self-hosted, WordPress blog showing off your writing skills is the most direct way to earn a lucrative living through freelance writing. Why? People with ample means get to see what you can offer through your blog, then, pay up. Both parties win. You have fun rendering a useful service. Clients get helpful, business-building content.

Blogging is a skill freelance writers need learn, and practice, to grow their business through blogging.

Follow these 4 tips to make money freelance writing through your blog.

1: Show Off Your Writing Skills by Publishing Content

Most aspiring freelance writers expect to make money freelancing without showing off their writing skills for free. Why in the heck would anybody hire you if they have no idea what you do, how you do it and why you do it?

Show off your writing skills by publishing content to your blog. Be generous. Publish one post weekly, at a minimum. Running a freelance writing blog seems smart to me. Along with teaching people how to be a skilled freelance writer, you build your friend network and show prospective clients your writing stuff.

Note; do not hold back. Many freelance writing blogger newbies publish one post and expect the floodgates of traffic, profits and clients to open up. Nope. Be generous, patient and persistent to gain client trust and to build your business over the long haul.

2: Network with Fellow Freelancers to Grow Your Reach

Get out of a competitive, poverty conscious vibe.

Enter into an abundant, generous, vibe.

Comment genuinely on fellow freelance blogs. Promote freelancers on your blog. Promote freelance writers on social media.

Here’s how money works, guys; if you do not fear losing money or clients to other freelance writers, you make tons of money through freelance writing over the long haul because all freelance buddies you make through your generosity promote you, endorse you and heck, some may even hire you.

Be generous. Help people. Make friends. Amplify your reach. Grow your business.

3: Build a Clear Freelance Writing Services Page

If you claim to be a freelance writer you better publish a clear, easy to understand, freelance writer page.

List specific services offered. Be clear to attract ideal clients who love what you offer.

Consider adding your writing rates to avoid tire kickers and other folks who want to bargain, barter and do other silly stuff. You are a business person. Bartering is for people in a Middle Eastern Souq. Set fixed prices. If people cannot afford your prices they can move on to another freelancer. Have posture.

Feel free to show off client testimonials if you have these endorsements but I have found this; if you get clear on your writing skills, show off your work through free content and clearly state what you offer, clients will find you and hire you. I did not even have a freelance business page when I landed my highest paying client. This shows you the power of clarity and mental alignment.

4: Build Blogging and Freelance Writing Posture

Please guys, do not barter, bargain or debate your writing rates. Do not charge $5 for a 600 word post. Do not work for peanuts just to say you landed a client. Do not work for demanding, overbearing clients. Never work for someone unless the person aligns with you, your values and your work.

Work for nice people who appreciate what you have to offer. This is the path toward great success online.

You choose clients. You pick clients. Have posture. Think and act abundantly.

Most freelancers struggle terribly because they have little or no posture. Believe in yourself. Believe in your abilities. Have faith. Trust in yourself.

The more you practice writing the more you gain confidence and clarity in your offering.

Enjoy your freelance writing success!

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3 Rewarding Benefits for Bloggers to Consider Joining An Honor Society

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Over approximately one million students are members of the National Honor Society (NHS). Many of which are likely bloggers, freelance writers, and/or have a passion for writing or pursuing their own path in life.

High school students with outstanding achievements are joining the organization every year. But you may not be familiar with the NHS and what it does, and also how it can benefit you as either a blogger, affiliate marketer, or an entrepreneur.

You may be asking, “should I join an honor society?” Is it really that important? Before you become an honor student yourself, you should weigh the benefits.

Here’s your guide to the benefits of the National Honor Society.

Should I Join an Honor Society?

In order to join the NHS, you’ll need to know what they do.

Established in 1921, the foundation recognizes students who have achieved excellence in several different ways. These include areas of service, leadership, character, and of course, scholarship.

Members need to meet certain criteria to join. Students who want to join should have at least a 3.0 on the GPA scale. They should also show great leadership and a commitment to volunteer work.

If you think you may be eligible, here are three rewarding reasons why you should join the NHS.

1. Making a Difference

One of the great aspects of the NHS is the opportunity to make a difference. Given the foundation’s emphasis on helping others, each student must meet a service hour requirement.

As a member, you’ll be a part of service projects whether individually or as a team.

This is not only an amazing way to get involved in your community but a way to meet new people. Volunteering opens up so many doors, personal and otherwise. It helps you find yourself and connect with people in the process.

The service you complete may also open other doors and interests for you along the way.

2. Building Your Resume

Every college and university knows what an NHS membership suggests about a student. This makes it a wonderful addition to your resume or college application. It makes you competitive and helps you stand out in a sea of students.

An NHS experience shows that you’re an outstanding citizen who’s engaged with the world. It shows that you have great academic standing and the potential to be a future leader. However, academics aren’t everything, and if you can compile all of your achievements and goals into an online resume website, you may win over some new audiences and personal opportunities as well.

Joining the NHS will help you turn your goals for the future into a reality and set your professional life into motion.

3. Developing Skills

To become an NHS student, you need to exhibit certain traits and character. But your experience as a member will also help you further develop your skills. The NHS is an excellent avenue for becoming even more well-rounded and capable.

The NHS helps students flex their skills as a leader and a part of a team. The volunteering component will help you develop great time management skills. It can also motivate you to maintain your good grades.

You’ll also learn a lot about networking and professionalism during the process. This will be indelibly valuable in the future.

Learn More

The answer to “should I join an honor society?” is a resounding yes. There are no downsides to becoming an honor student and so much to gain from the experience, and if you are thinking about launching a website or blog of your own, the experience and skills you will gain from such an environment and community will only help.

Not only does being in the NHS prepare you for what’s to come, but it’s also a nice way to celebrate what you’ve already worked so hard to accomplish.

To learn more about school and lifestyle tips, be sure to visit our blog.

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