Friday, August 16, 2013

Special Request

I've been requested to convert my workshops into a FAQ format.  So, I will be working on that and posting it on several of my sites when available.

Thank you all for participating in and following these workshops.  I thoroughly enjoy presenting them.  Keep checking back and sharing in future blogger workshops.  Invite your friends and together we may be able to encourage others to get involved also.








Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Time for Another Workshop?

Hello everyone!  I'm thinking that it is almost time to have another workshop.  Please enter any topics you would like to see covered and I'll work on adding them in to the program.

I'm thinking we will cover more of the content and maybe hit on promoting your blog this time around.

This Blogger's Choice Workshop will be decided upon based on suggestions from you.  So, don't hesitate to send in your suggestions.  Nothing is too silly to ask if you really want to know.  For those of you not comfortable posting below, you can email your suggestions to me at Ann.Snizek@gmail.com and I will post them for you.






Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Blogger's Request Hour

Hello out there,

This is a request for feedback.  I would like to know what topic related to blogging you would like to have a workshop on.  There are lots of aspects and elements of blogging out there.  I just want to know what my readers want.

So, what do you want?

I think I can plan on doing one workshop a month. (I hope)  So, keep the requests coming.  I also would like for those of you that have participated in -- or have referenced -- the first two workshops to please post a comment, review, critique, testimonial, hate mail (with censored vulgarity if you need to be vulgar), or any other bit you could possibly share with me.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Blogger Workshop Part 2!

Content!!!

We mentioned content during part one, but didn't really get into it.  Content is the element that brings viewers back to our sites.  They have to be interested in what we have to say.  This will vary depending on your focus, but everyone needs to pay attention to their content.
Every post you make… decide first if it even fits with the focus of your blog.  If not, and you feel strongly about wanting to post this information, consider setting up a separate blog for items along this theme.

Content is not just the idea of our posts though.  It is also in the way we present them.  When you go out to dinner, the way the food is presented is equally important as what the food is… even more important is the TASTE!

We must let our words grow out of what we see.  Let our words come to life and by extension allow a part of ourselves to show through.  Experiences are personal; the way we look at them are unique to us, but emotions are universal… to humans anyway.

I’m sure most, if not all of us, have heard that we need to “show not tell” – but what does that really mean?  It is the same idea as passive vs. active voice.

Telling (passive voice)

This is telling someone.  I am going to write my story and you are going to read it.  That is just how things are.  When it is cold outside, we are likely to bundle up.


Showing (active voice) –

When showing people your words, you involve them in the action.  They join your story and feel it with you.  You can’t help it.  When the sun blazes down on us, we find ways to cool off.

I don’t know if you noticed the difference in these two examples.  The main indicator of the passive voice happens to be forms of the verb “to be.”  There are times when it is necessary, but if you remove every: was, is, are, being, will be, been, etc. that you can, your “voice” will move from passive to active.  When you open up, your readers enjoy your words more.


How do I get more followers?

Even if your content is good, you may still be struggling with low page views.  There can be multiple reasons for this.

1.       Time
2.       Sharing
3.       Regularity
4.       Something new
5.       The real you vs. phony presentation
6.       Use your imagination


First:  We have to realize that, as much as we don’t like it, it does take time to build up a following.  Most of us rely on word-of-mouth as our main draw.  Word-of-mouth is AMAZING, but if people aren't talking, no one can listen.

Second:  How do we get the word-of-mouth to work for us?  We must do a LOT of work.  We need to network (meet others with common interests), but it is more than just meeting people.  We MUST build some sort of relationship or connection with them.  Why should they invest their time and effort in our work if we can’t show the interest ourselves?

Share your pages, do it more than once, and share in more than one place.  Ask a few friends to help share also.  When we have something that people like, they will automatically share to some extent.  Remember though, everyone has their own lives to stress over.  I’m not the most patient person in the world myself, but I do know that patience is needed.  How can we develop patience if we aren't faced with experiences that require its use?

You want to share, but also make sure that the places you share will have the people that you are trying to draw in.  For example:  If you write “adult content” in your blog, advertising in a room devoted to parenting small children is inappropriate!  There are countless groups set up to promote yourself and your writing.  Use these resources.  There are multiple sites that you can send out links to your blog.  Use the resources.  Don’t sit back and expect that people will just stumble across your page.  That generally doesn't happen.

Third:  Like other things in life, we must be regular.  This is not always easy.  Life likes to get in the way and mess around with our plans.  I’m a prime example of this!

However, you can make it work with PLANNING!  Yes, that is a dreaded word for me.  I’m not the world’s best planner by far.  But it does help.

Write multiple posts in advance.  They don’t have to be long.  You can save these posts as drafts on your blog site.  If you know there will be a time frame that you won’t be able to post as regularly as you’d like, schedule them to post for you.  These can fill in the blanks.

Another option you have is to have someone else (or several someone else’s) listed on your blog as contributors.  These should be people that you trust to maintain the focus of your blog.  With everyone on their own schedules in life, this can be amazingly helpful.

I, for one, do NOT have internet for my home computer.  I don’t even have reliable internet on my phone because I live in the middle of… nowhere.  I do have several people that I trust and work with.  These people have bailed me out of so many jams that I don’t even want to consider the number. (I am allergic to numbers by the way.)  This is a major obstacle for me.  I’m sure I’m not the only one either.

I can prepare short posts at home and upload them when I get a chance to be online in town.  The other contributors to my page(s) can also post for me if I forgot a certain event… or, if they just needed another place to post something.  I set the parameters of what I will allow on my site and can take action if needed.  Thankfully, I haven’t needed to.

Fourth:  This leads easily into the fourth point.  By regularly posting something new and sharing it, our readers will have something to come back for.  They will want to discover what will happen next.

You can do this by having a completely new topic or by having a series of topics to post.  Also, by posting teasers about upcoming events, you can call attention to your site and people will check in to find out more.  Do your best not to disappoint.  Don’t promise what you can’t keep.  Occasional mistakes can be swept under the rug, but continually… you will become the “boy who cried wolf,” and no one wants to be that person.


Fifth:  Be yourself.  This can be an extremely scary concept.  I am a wacky, quirky, corny, OCD, ADD, absent minded mess.  The thing is… I know it and accept it (mostly).  I at least own up to it.  I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to be what I thought I was supposed to -- trying to make other people happy while I became more and more miserable.

The point is that you must be yourself.  Have fun, enjoy what you post.  If you love what you are doing, and it isn't illegal, then why worry about what others think or say?  You will never be able to please everyone, but you don’t have to.  Take what information you can from negative comments (in all aspects of life), but keep ONLY what you can use to benefit yourself.

When you are passionate about what you are writing/saying other people can sense that.  It passes through the words and becomes infectious.  This is the infection you want.

I personally beg people to tell me what they do NOT like about my writing.  I’m not looking for reasons to be down on myself.  I’m looking for ways to improve.  I believe everyone has room to improve and we shouldn't be afraid to admit that about ourselves or help others grow.

Sixth:  Using your imagination has become a valuable skill that is often overlooked in our world today.  Schools cut back on more and more ways for young people to develop their imaginations.  Work places often demand that you fit in, do what you’re told, and don’t ask too many questions.
I say that we need to build our imaginations back up!  The greatest tool of the human mind is our capacity to see beyond what is right in front of us.  Look at the technological advancements.  Look at all the items we have and use daily.  At some point, someone used their imagination to develop it all.

Possibilities are endless in our imaginations.  How many times in history have people come up with some crazy idea that could only exist in the mind?  What about the doors that slide open on the bridge of the Enterprise in Star Trek?  Or the communicators?  Or video conferencing?  There are so many things that ARE and so many things the WILL BE that come from the imagination.

Please let your imaginations come back.  Give them a space in your life.  You will be amazed with how much more there is out there!



Assignment Time

What do you like to talk about?  What is it that you could do all day every day?  What is important to you?
Find what the answers are.  Then write, write about it and break it up into manageable bites.  These are your posts.  This is your link to building an audience.  Don’t be afraid to learn new words, techniques, skills, even new processes for things you've been doing.


If things are working… keep doing it.  If they aren't working, examine it and discover alternate ways to do what you love.  And don’t forget to SHOW us what it is like.  Even the journey to discovery can be fun.




 If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions... please drop me a note.
Or comment below... I know there is a spot for comments somewhere down there!!! (hehehe)



Monday, June 17, 2013

build-a-blog



Building your blog is more than putting a colorful background and slapping a few words on the page.  A lot of time goes into building the best blog you can.  It is like a calling card, or business card, that you are putting  into cyberspace for everyone to see.  Therefore, you want to present the best image you can.

Content, both images and words, are vital to the success of your blog.  

Images are the potatoes and words are the meat.  You have to put down quality food.  It's also okay to change it up every now and then.  The main ingredients to the content should be something you are comfortable with.  People can tell if it is forced or not enthusiastic.  Let your passion show in what you do... no matter the subject.  This is what people want.  Everyone wants to connect on some level.  Otherwise, they won't visit your site.

While you can NOT please everyone, and you can't please your followers all the time... do it for yourself.  Eventually, by putting yourself out there, people will come.  There is enough diversity in the world to find someone out there to connect with.  We are all human and all have some basic similarities, no matter our background.

Also keep in mind that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses.  They also have their good days and bad days.  Try to stay regular, don't be afraid to ask for assistance, and be yourself.  Well, a semi-professional you anyway. ;)

If you have struggles, allow at least some of that to come through sometimes.  It shows that you are human. We all struggle with something.  I'm not saying to type nothing but your misery, because as bad as it is... chances are there is at least ONE person out there that has it worse.  The things you can handle, others may not, and the other way around.





Saturday, June 15, 2013

Blogger Workshop part 1

Hello!!

This is the reference page for the first installment of my Blogger Workshop held on Facebook.  It covered the basics of setting up your own blog here on Blogger.com.  The next workshop will be held on June 22 at this Facebook event.  It will cover more information for the people that already have a blog.  (The quilting images represent how we piece things together to make a whole.)



Ann Snizek:  The first steps I'm going to cover will be from the ground up... and yes, I will be setting up a new blog page myself in the process. We will be using Blogger.com because I am more familiar with it. However, many (future) topics will cross over to any blog.

For those of you who do not already have a blog, go to blogger.com you will need to set up a gmail account if you haven't already. Click on the link to create a new blog. This will prompt you for a name of the blog and a name for the link. They do NOT have to be the same thing. The blog address name has no spaces, etc. This is what you should have been thinking about in preparation for this workshop.

CRA: am I going to be able to change the title and address later if I decide I don't like it?

PAB: you can change the name, but not the address

Ann Snizek:  Actually, I have changed the address. It just gets very confusing for all of the followers of the links to your site as it will no longer be there. Basic is better... at least for the blog address.


Example... My new blog is called Blogger's Workshop at address Annsbloggerworkshop.blogspot.com



KJP: can I have 2 blogs off 1 email address?


Ann Snizek: Yes! I have access to 12 now. Each has a different purpose. You can have as many as you like.



Ann Snizek: When you set your blog name, you can either pick the look for it immediately or set it and edit along the way. For our purposes, we will say that you just accepted the basic default settings and are now at your blogger dashboard.


CRA: How will I know I am on the dashboard? IDK what a dashboard is.


Ann Snizek: It is the page that shows you your blog name and says My Blogs in the top left corner of the main screen. There will be a list down the left side showing Overview, posts, pages, comments, etc


If anyone, at any point doesn't follow, feel free to PM me. we will go to the bottom of the list to the link that says Settings. This will show three categories... Basic, Publishing, and Permissions. Now, if you think you will need extra help at some point, you can add me as a temporary administrator. To do this, go to permissions and add an author. My email is Ann.Snizek@gmail.com. Once you send it, I will accept and we can do the next step. I will give people time to do this so hold on a bit.



Once you have the admin set up the way you want, we will move on to the appearance of the blog. For this, we will go to Template. This will show a box that says Live on Blog and a smaller box that says Mobile

Alright... now for me to be an admin, you must look at the permissions section again. Those of you that added me will see my name with author next to it while yours says admin. You can click on this... It has a drop down. Change mine to admin, but don't change yours.



CRA: had to refresh to see it



Ann Snizek:  Click on Customize. I don't do HTML very well. I like to see what I'm doing



DRB: Where’s customize?



Ann Snizek: It is under the larger box showing Live on Blog



CRA: it takes a second to appear after you click "template" on the left


Ann Snizek: Depending on what you want your blog to represent will determine how you want it to look. If your focus is horror or mystery you will want a different look than someone who does children's graphics.

This is where you get to have fun. Whatever template you pick can be changed without affecting your content. So, don't worry if you change your mind. The boxes to the right can show you all the options. You can look through them a bit and let me know if you need help or when you are ready.


These templates come with a basic background, font, and color set... you can tweak these to make it even more customized. If you move down the list to backgrounds, it will show you a variety with color keys. Here is also where you can upload your own graphics if you want. We can go into that later if anyone wants to. The next item on the list, Adjust Widths, allows you to have more space or balance for your page columns. Layout shows where items on the page can go (like a magazine or newspaper)



CRA: I changed the color and clicked "apply" but it looks the same. I can mess with it later though.


DRB: I added my current book's cover to the background. set my basic layout



Ann Snizek: The bottom of the list is Advanced... this allows you to change the font type and colors. This is fun to play with to allow your text the best viability and feel for your sight. We will go into this later also.



KJP: I have water background

CRA: I just chose some squiggly crap. I'll change it later.

DRB: That's cool. I have a Vampire background for now.



Ann Snizek: Alright... after you make the changes and click Apply to blog, you can then click the link to go back to your dashboard/blogger. (to the left of the Apply button it says Back to Blogger) Next, click on Layout.

In Layout, it has a couple standard items, but it also has Add A Gadget!!! This is fun. :D

There are a LOT!!! And you can grab more from other sites too!!! You can pick a gadget and move it around on your layout as well.



KJP: Like Shelfari an amazon stuff



Ann Snizek: To move the order of your gadgets, hover over it with the four directional arrow showing. Then you click and drag to the slot you want it. This allows you to organize the look and add new items that will apply to your site. Gadgets are fun,but remember your focus. More isn't always better. If you add too many things that do not apply to your topic it will look cluttered, messy, and unprofessional. Readers want easy access to your site and don't want to get lost in a maze of gadgets. Even if you aren't using your site as a business, you still want to view it as a professional representation of you.



CRA: Can people see it yet, or do I have to go live first? I was playing with gadgets and invited google plus peeps and I don't even know who they are



Ann Snizek:  They can see it if they have the addy, but they generally won’t just stumble upon it.

Okay... now, another item that I forgot to mention before... you can go to your STATS tab. To get an accurate count of how many people are visiting your site, go over to the link underneath the list of Page views. It says Don't Track Your Own Page views. I generally leave that on for the first couple days to get some numbers up, but then change it. That way, I can look at the pages all day and I won't be all excited about the page views when I'm actually the only one looking. LOL The first time I set up a blog, I had like 70-ish viewings before I found that button... ROFL



CRA: glad you showed me that...or I'd have thought I was more popular than I am



Ann Snizek:  you'll get there

Now go to the Pages tab. On this page, it shows Home... this is the initial page people see when signing in your address. This is also where all your posts will go. If you have specific Items you want to display (like on one of my other sites: http://SnowFlowerEnterprises.com )

This is a great tool!! You can also group your posts with tags. This allows you to have ex: all blog tours together, giveaways, etc.

To add a regular page, click on Add Page – blank. you can't customize each individual page... (that I know of) as far as background and font goes.

The other choice is a weblink. This allows you to have a page tab that takes the person directly to another link. Ex: athttp://SnowFlowerEnterprises.com I have a tab for My Amazon Store and for ShortBooks



CRA: what does it mean to have another page? I thought it meant that a person could "turn the page" somehow to read more.



Ann Snizek: Do you see all the tabs on my site? They are called pages

After you have a page or two, you have to do one important thing that I missed for the first week of my first blog... This very important item shows your pages on your site. When looking at your list of pages, there is a little button that says Show Pages As... it is defaulted at Don't Show. Click it for a drop down and you can choose if you want the page tabs at the top or side

Now for some stuff that covers information no matter where you blog!! The most important part of any blog!!!! 

 Drum roll please..... CONTENT.

It is time to think about and assemble a post!!! Content is vital to your blog, just as food is to your body. The biggest part of this is to be honest to your-self. Shakespeare had it right... This above all to thine own self be true.



CRA: is it possible to write stuff and save it until you want it public?



Ann Snizek: Yes, and I highly recommend it

Your posts: you will need a title for every post. This becomes part of the direct link to it. So, everyone following please go to the post tab from the left side list. It will say no post because we haven't done that yet. There are 2 ways to start this... I recommend using the button with the pencil on it at the top of the page. You can always create a new post with this button no matter where you are at the time. I'm titling mine First Post.. 'cuz I can... when you get a title and some content STOP THERE.



CRA: Can I delete it later?



Ann Snizek: YES! off to the FAR right of the screen are some semi-hidden buttons. If you hover over these buttons they will slide out for you to see them. Please hover over the clock. When you click on it, you will have the option to set time and date. set some random time in the near future and click Done.

Now... VERY important... in order for the post to actually go live when you want, you MUST hit PUBLISH. It's the orange button. If you do NOT hit publish, it will remain in drafts setting. After you hit publish it should take you back to the page that lists your posts... it should say scheduled. It will also tell you who wrote the post.

Getting the right TIME ZONE: go down to Settings again. it will drop down another list. Chose Language and Formatting. You can then find your own time zone and set it. I don't worry about the other options there myself because it is only the format of how the info shows up... don't worry if the time isn't right in their example. Make sure you go up to the orange button and Save Settings.



Back to Posts

It doesn't matter if your post is in draft, scheduled, or live... you can always edit it! You can also preview your changes before making them live and you can delete any of your posts! If you click on Edit for your post, you can see that you can also revert this to the draft setting. You can change the time and/or date also. This is GREAT for those of us that are always making errors.



Now to customize your posts!!!!



Customizing your posts... bring some personality into it!! Cut and paste can only take you so far. If you want your readers to be interested, you have to give them something to look at!

There is a row of editing tools under the post title.

The F is for your font... You picked a font type with the template... this will be your default font. Use this when you copy and paste text.... this will make all the words the same font.


The next button to the right is text size.


Beside the text size button it says Normal... I never bother changing this, but you can play with it if you like.


Then you have your standard formatting tools like in Word.


The next button that I find important is LINKS. This is GREAT!!! it allows you to hyperlink anything. If you have a website address just highlight it and click LINK and it does it automatically. Sometimes, especially if you have A LOT of links it can look REALLY messy with all those long addresses. Highlight any word(s) in your post and click LINK it will prompt you to enter the http:// address then you can test it even.



CRA: Yay! You defined "hyperlink" I wanted to know what they were.



Ann Snizek: If you know you have the right URL, click OK. Your words should change color and if you hover it will show the link.


We have links now, but it's still very plain...
Time to add graphics!

Go to the icon button of a picture… the one that says "insert image”… You can upload from your computer; connect to a picture from a different site, etc. You can add multiple pics at the same time. Click on a pic and it will be outlined in blue. Then you add selected pics. After you have the pics on the page, you will have to move them to where you want them. You can usually click and drag them, but for some reason, that doesn't always work. You can also change the size of them. This is fun to play with. Sometimes I have to cut and paste the pic where I want and then click left right center.


Blogger can have a temperament.


After you have the pics you want, where you want them... hit publish. If you have already scheduled it, this will stay the same. Once your post is live, it will automatically prompt a share to google +. This helps get the word out.


Now... as a trial run... we will go ahead and make the post live. You can always return it to draft or delete it when our exercise is over. Go back to the post tab... Click on the title, then go over to the clock and switch it back to automatic... then go up and hit Publish. When it goes live and you either skip the Google + or share it, go to the button at the top that says View Blog. It usually opens in another tab.


As you view the live blog, it has buttons where you can share on twitter, email it, Facebook, blogger and Google + These are great to use when letting people know you have a blog post. I encourage you to share your own posts when it first goes live. You can also go back to older posts and re-share them!!! This is a great reminder and calls attention to your site. With so much going on for everyone, it is easy to be missed in the bulk of notifications.



THANK YOU!!! Happy Blogging!!! 



Saturday, June 8, 2013

First Post -- messy example gobbly-goop

here is my first post for the blogger workshop.  It isn't pretty, but it is here and quickly thrown together. :D


editing. etc.  blah blah


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