Grandpa’s Way 2

On Thursday, I posted that I would be making my book available for free download over the weekend. Unfortunately, I appear to have confuse the Amazon system for the US website and my book failed to show up there.

Therefore, I decided to pull the promotion for this weekend so that I could re-offer it, later. I hope to get the free download available again next weekend and this time, to include my US readers in the offer.

I can only apologize for the confusion.

Meanwhile, I will just have to start work on the next volume.

Do You Really ‘Like’ Me? Or Are You Just Touting for Business?

Couple

Do you read every article you ‘Like’?

I ask because I have noticed a number of posts on WordPress suggesting that there are some people (and I hope they are in the minority) who scroll down the WordPress Reader simply clicking the ‘Like’ button, but who never actually visit the blog they are ‘liking.’ So I have started to take note of this phenomenon. Is it really happening? Are there phantom fans out there? Do people really use the ‘Like’ button to drive traffic to their own blog? After all, WordPress’’ advises us that the best way to get traffic is to get to know other bloggers.

Moving to a self-hosted blog, recently, has given me an opportunity to test this theory out, and the results seem to suggest that there is some truth to the rumour.

For example, I have been writing a series of articles looking at grandparents and their role in families. I have only posted the complete articles on my self-hosted blog, with links on my WordPress site. Recently, I posted a new article of almost 2,000 words using my blogging software. This has an option to post the article, and then automatically open the post in my browser so that I can see what it looks like. So, having posted this article, I duly waited for the page to load. Now, my internet connection is not over fibre optic, but it is not slow. As the page loaded, my first ‘Like’ popped up. Hey! I know I`m not a fast reader, but it would take a super-speed reader to get through 2,000 words that quickly.

Therefore, I had to conclude that this blogger had seen my post appear on the WordPress Reader screen and simply clicked ‘Like.’ This was rather disappointing, especially since it was a blogger that I not only follow, but whose work I highly admire.

It struck me that arbitrarily clicking ‘Like’ on lots of posts just to attract traffic to your blog is a bit like a politician voting for everyone else so that he will get elected. Is there not some sort of moral issue here?

Why Is This an Issue?

Why do I worry about this? Like many writers, I enjoy reading widely, and reading through other people’s blogs is an excellent source of inspiration and information. But, trying to keep up with all of the blogs that I follow is not easy. I’m sorry, but I don’t always get to read everything on the blogs I follow.

Yet there is a serious side to ‘Liking’ a post. Consider this: Let’s say that someone posts a rather controversial article. I will not specify any subject because that could sway your judgement in this matter. However, this article flies in the face of everything that you ever stood for. It goes completely contrary to your deeply-held beliefs. In fact, you would be outraged by the very suggestion.

Now, you notice this article in the WordPress Reader. It has a beautiful photograph attached and you really love this photo. So you click ‘Like’ to approve of the photo, but you don’t read the article.

What have you done? You have now agreed with the sentiments expressed in the article. You may even have condoned something illegal. And your next prospective employer could be a fellow blogger who noted that you condoned this activity and he may decide that on the strength of your apparent opinions, you do not qualify for this job. In fact, despite being the best qualified, you do not belong in their company. Believe me, this has happened. A young girl applied for a job and the employer checked out her social network page. She didn’t even get an interview.

What Are You Agreeing With?

My point is that clicking ‘Like’ just to get reciprocal traffic could lead us into trouble. As noted, above, we could be ostensibly agreeing with something that goes directly against our own moral compass. We could even be condoning an illegal act.

That is why I never ‘Like’ a post that I have not read. I have no intention of giving the impression that I approve of something just to get reciprocal traffic.

Also, I will not ‘Like’ a post that contains material which goes against my principles. So, for example, I may highly respect your blog; but if you post an entry about something that I disapprove of, I will not ‘Like’ it. I may comment on it, expressing my disapproval in a tactful way, but I will not ‘Like’ it.

The Value of Commenting

This leads to the question of comments. It is not always possible, or even desirable, to comment on everything a fellow blogger writes. After all, there are only so many ways to say, “Good article.” However, commenting on articles at least tells the author that you have read his or her work, especially if you refer back to something in the article. I’m not always good at this, but Beth at I Didn’t Have My Glasses On is a fine example of it. She regularly comments and her comments always refer to some point in the article. Plus, her comments are always constructive.

Yet, again, because it is so easy to comment from the WordPress Reader, we still need to be careful that our comments are appropriate, rather that just touting for business, as it were.

So, before hitting ‘Like,’ from now on, why not consider your motives. Do you really like this article? Do you honestly agree with what is written in it? Are you only trying to ‘encourage’ a fellow blogger? Or are you just being mercenary in looking for traffic for your own blog?

Time for Change Challenge

New Beginning

At the end of September, here and here, I wrote about the complications and struggles involved in keeping more than one blog going. I said I was considering sticking to one blog, only, from now on.

Since then, the activity on my blog has increased quite significantly and my followers have gone 20, on September 21st to 162, as of today. I have also gained some followers on my other blogs, even though there has been very little movement on them in the last month.

So I am wondering what you think. Do you think that a sort of general purpose blog is best, utilising categories and tags to separate different types of entries? Or do you think it is better to have one blog for each type of subject, such as poetry, prose, photography, job hunting, etc? How do you work? Do you have several blogs, or do you stick to just one?

Also, what is your experience of going from a WordPress hosted blog to self-hosted? Is it easy? Do you gain or lose followers by changing? Is there any value in it?

So here is my challenge: Write a post, in any format you choose, telling about your experience of blogging. Please include a link to this post so that I, and others, can find your advice easily, and tag your post with Challenge 51. I will read and respond to every one.

Categories–A Blogger’s Bridge

Bridge at Llyn Llech Owain

I keep publishing posts without categories. I don’t suppose it matters, really, but it’s so annoying when I realise and have to go and update. OK. It’s not that big a crisis, really. Still, if you’re as impetuous as I am, you’ll know the frustration of getting it wrong!

So why do we need categories, anyway? First, I think it’s a mark of respect for our readers. After all, who wants to trawl through dozens (hundreds?) of posts with the latest recipes until they find their article on car mechanics? Who wants to read all that poetry when there is more exciting information available about the local music scene?

So how do we go about remembering to file our articles in the correct categories? I guess it’s a matter of discipline; the discipline of proof-reading. The thing is, if I am already in the habit of proof-reading my article, surely I should include the title area, which should include the categories and tags. This takes practice, of course. After all, I would venture to suggest that the majority of bloggers are not professional journalists. Most of us have other things to do with our time. Blogging is our way of relaxing and sharing with the wider community. Therefore, spending time on proof-reading seems to be a pointless exercise.

Yet it makes sense to use categories. Think about it. How many of us keep the tea and spanners together? How many of us keep our paperwork in the freezer? Not deliberately, anyway. Surely, we want to make sure that we can find our articles, even if no one else reads them!

Categories bridge the gap between our keyboards and our memories. We work hard to bring our articles to publication. The least we can do is make it easy for people to find them.

So, from now on, I am going to try to get into the habit of assigning at least one category and one tag before I start typing. That way, I should at least have some idea where to look.

Blogging as a Beginner

New Beginning

In my last post, I commented that I wanted to change the way that I handled my blogging activity. I am trying different ways of building a website. I want to be able to keep it fresh with regular updates, but because of the intricacies of web design, these days, it’s a lot of work. I also fell that I need to work on my creativity to ensure a pleasing look. This is where WordPress helps with the pre-defined templates. So I want to create a blog-based website.

To a great extent, this started out as a practice exercise. However, I found my blogs being commented on and followed by a surprising number of people; and not just people trying to enhance the reputation of their own blog. Yes, I’ve had my fair share of offers, but there have been many more genuine readers. How do I know? Because of the obviously sincere comments that they have made. Some have commented in such a way that it is obvious that they have read some fairly lengthy posts. There have even been a few who have read through my entire collection! So, to those who have taken the time to like, follow, and especially read my blogs, thank you for your support and encouragement.

What have I learned about writing and blogging, this week?

First, you have to be regular. On those days that I have failed to publish a post, the number of views has dropped off, sometimes to nil, and I start to struggle to find something to say because of the discouragement. This has not always been for lack of ideas, though, which leads me to the next thing that I have learned.

You have to try to write something every day. You may not publish it, but putting some words together makes a big difference. Writing a few words, even those you do not post, can help to keep your mind active and clear, ready to create something of value. I have a number of draft posts in my file waiting for the inspiration to get them right. And that’s my third lesson.

Don’t post just for the sake of posting. Mediocre material will get noticed, but only for the purpose of being ignored. There’s nothing like checking your notifications for several hours only to find that not one person “liked” your post. It sends the wrong signals. You start to feel that you are useless, when, in actual fact, you made the mistake of posting second-rate material.

As part of getting it right, it’s essential to proofread your post before submission. I have read over some posts that could be really good if only they had checked the spelling. Grammar, too, is a consideration. However, remember that both spelling and grammar can be localised. Today,I considered using the colour (color, US) grey (gray, US) and realised that you cannot get it right for everyone all the time. But the basics are still there and should be observed.

I have also learned that I am more comfortable writing unplanned. This may go against the grain for many people. Yet many professional writers will tell you that the first draft should come from the heart before the head processes the corrections for the second draft. As I said, I prefer the heart first approach even though I often find myself halfway through a pathetic attempt at a post struggling to decide which direction my heart is taking me. Some things have to develop; others need to be planned.

Recent Activity

Obviously, there are some posts that need planning. Take my haiku, for example. Haiku rules a fairly restrictive. So if you don’t plan a haiku, or at least re-write it until it is satisfying, you will never get it into the correct format.

This week, I have posted two haiku, on in the Haiku group called

No Hiking Today

Pen y Fan 1 Med

. . . and another in the Photography group called

Boredom.

lion

It’s also important to keep your eyes open for useful photos. Although this shot of Rowan Berries is not brilliant, the contrasting colours are well worth a look and I decided to include a cropped version in my photography blog.

Rowan Berries

I do have one regret, this week. I failed to post anything to my blog, Sufficient for Each Day. But I worked so hard on my post, Lost, which I wrote for the Daily Post weekly challenge that I found it difficult to put together anything that would be good enough to publish. As I said, I have a number of draft simmering away in the background.

So what is my conclusion after this week’s blogging?

To be a successful blogger you have to:

  • Publish regularly
  • Write daily
  • Check it thoroughly
  • Make it worthwhile

If I have achieved all those, this week, then I am happy. If you think I have achieved them, then I am ecstatic.

Happy blogging.

Time for Change 2

So I decided that I would concentrate on just one blog and simplify my life. I decided to do this by making good use of the WordPress Categories function. However, I needed a way to show the posts on my main page without cluttering it up too much. So I spent a pleasant, productive evening looking at the customization options on WordPress.

I need not have worried. The various functions are just what I need. All I had to do was to learn how to use them. Thank you, WordPress for making blogging life so simple.

What have I achieved?

Basically, I was faced with re-blogging all my posts from the various sites. There aren’t that many, by comparison, but I was concerned that some readers would be put off. For example, who wants to look at my photos when they have come to look at my Haiku? Who wants to look at either of those if they have come here to read my essays?

Then I discovered Menus and Links. (Look on your Dashboard under Appearance, Menus.) With these tools, I can put a menu of my blogs anywhere on my page.

Also, I have added a page describing my blogs. This is a static page with further details that would clutter up the main menu.

Planning for the Future

My next exercise will be to look at the idea of creating a static first page. I believe that I will be able to link all my blogs to this. The only problem that I see with it is that it will be static. And I know how much people like to see movement on blog pages.

There is, of course, a function in WordPress where you can link the latest posts. But I don’t think it works on static pages.

So watch this space. I am going to be developing it, as time goes on.

Why Am I Telling You All This

Why would you be interested in how I am changing my blog presence? Most people are probably not bothered. Yet there may be some readers who, like me, are fairly new to customizing blogs. They may be on the verge of giving up, just because they cannot get the results they desire.

Well, if I can make these changes, and if I can bring them to the attention of someone who might benefit from the process, then so much the better. Yet, even if I only create a record for my own memory purposes, it’s time well spent. After all, I suspect that most of us have been in the position of telling ourselves, “I’m sure I looked up this information, before!”

 

Words of Gratitude

Finally, my thanks to Elizabeth for the encouraging comment on my plans. It gave me the inspiration to try.

Time for Change

I have been blogging, now, for nearly ten years. I haven’t been very regular with it; in fact, I have had long spells with no blog posts. But I have recently been looking at how to create an easily-maintained website. The idea of uploading data regularly is rather overwhelming in the midst of a busy life. So I decided to try my hand at blogging, again, and, I have to say, the concept has developed nicely, over the years, such that I can now see the value of the activity.

I tried the micro-blogging idea, where you are limited to, say, 140 characters, but I was not impressed. Even though I love the limitations of Haiku, I still want the flexibility to post a few words, or many, depending on how I feel.

With this in mind, I have tried to maintain several blogs for different purposes. For example, this was originally to be a sort of “general purpose” blog which would catch all my random musings that did not fit into a more specific page; my Haiku blog was for Haiku, obviously; and my photo blog was for photos. I also like the idea of keeping my photos and my poetry separate from the general, run-of-the-mill brain waves.

Yet, as I have developed these, over the past few weeks, I’m starting to wonder why. I can see all of my blogs overlapping. I like using photos to illustrate my Haiku, for example. Also, WordPress has the facility to split content according to the needs of the user. Categories and tags are very useful in this regard.

Therefore, I have decided to try a few weeks of writing only this blog, rather than maintaining several of them. I will still keep them open, and I may double-post, from time to time. If this irritates you, please accept my apologies. Leave me a message to say so and I will consider changing my ways.

Still, the seasons are changing; and we must change, too. We must be prepared to be flexible in our outlook and develop according to our needs and the needs of our community. The world is changing; and so are we. We need to embrace these changes and work with them. We need to use their energy to energise ourselves. And that’s what this change is all about.

I will keep the other blogs open, as I said. This will probably be useful if I decide to enter upon a long-term project. For example, I would like to develop enough of my Haiku and my photographs to provide the material for a book. Maybe I will use one blog to “store” my output whilst continuing to post the content here.

Who knows? The future is ours to write. That, after all, is the beauty of blogging.