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Posts Tagged ‘Problogger’

Welcome to Toolbox Saturday where you’ll find tools for various things from writing to whatever.

I’ve blogged about using a training budget before, but sometimes you may find your budget is hovering around $0. What do you do then? Spend time trolling through other author’s blogs, especially those who offer eBooks (and other types of media) covering topics you’re interested in, and prowling over social media networks. There are three things to be gained from this.

Read the rest of 3 Ways to Get Free (Or Almost Free) Training.

This blog, The Road to Writing, will be discontinued Dec. 31, 2011. If you would like to continue receiving great tips and inspirational posts please remember to subscribe to my new blog by RSS or email for LOL Mondays, Spirit Wednesdays and Toolbox Saturdays.

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This week I found myself having nightmares about conspiracies and daydreaming about a long vacation at some remote beach. That’s when I realized my life was once again out of balance.

Who among us hasn’t felt like they were running uphill at full speed for days on end? It’s a common experience, especially if you’re trying to balance more than just a small family and your writing career. For most of us we’re balancing a day job, family (and all those household things that go with it), volunteer activities and a host of other responsibilities as well as launching (or maintaining) a writing career.

Yet even in the midst of all those responsibilities, and maybe even because we have them, it is important to find a balance between them and our peace of mind. The following 5 links can help you achieve a better balance.

  1. Downshifting: The First Day of the Rest of My Life, by J.D. Roth: J.D. shares his personal journey from being a regular 9-to-5 Joe with huge debt and lots of wasted time to being a problogger with finances in great shape and no time to finding a balance between his new self-employed status and having time to do nothing.
  2. 10 tips on leading a balanced life, by Allen Galbraith: Although this post is written for the 9-to-5 crowd and those self-employed in businesses other than writing, there are some helpful tips nonetheless.
  3. 5 Tips for Better Work-Life Balance, by Jen Uscher and Miranda Hitti: These tips are more generalized (and also more focussed on 9-to5ers) but, again, some of them are helpful, especially when it comes to family and household responsibilities.
  4. WE ARE NOT ALONE: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, by Kristen Lamb: This book is specifically for writers and is a great tool for learning how to manage marketing via social media so that it doesn’t become a time suck.
  5. Sensitive (Mental) Health: HSPs and Burnout by Elaine Aron: This very short article is specifically for highly sensitive people, though I think some of it applies to non-hsps as well.

Balance is attainable, even if for a brief period. What are some tips you’ve discovered on maintaining a balance between your writing career and the rest of your life?

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One thing I never really considered until recently was who I expected to read what I’ve written.  It didn’t cross my mind even when I was doing the Problogger Challenge last year.  I always wrote stories and articles I thought I would like to read.  That’s not a horrible way to write, but it makes marketing a bit more difficult.  After all, you wrote it so of course you’d like it.  The problem with that is that you are one person.  Not everyone is like you.  This is why it’s important to create reader profiles.

I found the simplest way to do this in the article “Make Writing Fun: Methods Monitoring Student Writing,” which is written for high school teachers, but I think it’s a great way for anyone to start profiling potential readers.  Think of someone you enjoy telling stories to.  Write down specifics about this person from reasons you enjoy telling your stories to them to reasons they enjoy listening to or reading them.  This gives you a very personal idea of who your potential audience is.

From there you can begin to imagine others who might enjoy your works.  I highly recommend Kristen Lamb’s We Are Not Alone to help develop a rounded out profile of your general readership.  If you’d like to get just a little more creative by doing several individualized profiles you could try Darren Rowse’s style of telling a little story about each imagined reader and including a picture.

Some basic information to consider including in your reader profiles, however you choose to put them together, include:

  • Demographics
  • Financial situation
  • Needs and challenges
  • How they use the web
  • Motivations for reading your work
  • Experience with topic (especially needed for non-fiction)
  • Hopes and dreams

Knowing who you’re writing for can help refine your manuscript as well as make marketing to them simpler on The Road to Writing.


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It goes without saying, though obviously I’m going to, that I enjoy blogging. It’s a form of writing and writing is what I do. But I recently had to re-evaluate whether blogging was worth my time after reading The Blog Tyrant‘s postWhy Blogging is a Waste of Your Time.

It all comes down to “why are you blogging?” At first I thought it would be a good way to make a little extra money, but I quickly found that a free blog doesn’t generate income (at least not easily). And I wasn’t willing to commit money to this endeavor as so many others have. I admire people like Darren Rowse of Problogger who have spent money on their blogs and have shown that you can make a go of being a professional blogger. I just don’t think that being a problogger is what I want to do at this time, though I do plan on using his 31 Days to Build a Better Blog eBook often.

I then decided it would be a better way to reach an audience and maybe help a fellow Independent Authors. The problem with this was that nearly all the advice out there says you must blog everyday. I believe having a blog is a great way to build an author platform, but I was finding myself working more on my blog and less on what I really wanted to do — write books. I rebelled and stuck with weekly postings. Still, I felt like this blog thing wasn’t working like I wanted.

Enter Blog Tyrant. I wasn’t convinced that blogging was wasting my time until I read these words:

Your goal is to make money online to give yourself a better life. Blogging might not be the best way to do that. It might be a distraction that you use because it is easy, available and popular. But perhaps you would be better off doing something else? [emphasis mine]

Perhaps my time would be better served by not blogging. How right he is. I am an Independent Author, not a ProBlogger. It’s time I began acting like that as I travel down The Road to Writing.

P.S. I’ll still be blogging. I just won’t be obsessing about it quite so much. :) What about you?

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I’ve blogged about using a training budget before, but sometimes you may find your budget is hovering around $0. What do you do then? Spend time trolling through other author’s blogs, especially those who offer eBooks (and other types of media) covering topics you’re interested in, and prowling over social media networks. There are three things to be gained from this.

  1. Free information from the blog itself — Most blogs are free to read and easy to subscribe to by RSS or email. If you’re a savvy reader, you can pick up how-to info from author blogs whether the author is trying to teach their readers or not. Sometimes it’s obvious. Other times it’s a matter of noticing what the blogger is not saying. Same goes for other social media like Twitter and Facebook. Find authors you want to learn from and follow them. Read enough blogs, tweets, status updates, etc. and you’ll learn an astounding amount about whatever it is you’re interested in.

  2. Discounts are there to be had — I’m one of those people who rarely buys anything as soon as I see it. I hate buyer’s remorse. That means I’ll wait around until the book or service I want goes on sale. For instance, I really wanted to by Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog as soon as I saw it on his site. However, there were no excerpts to read to know exactly what was in the book and I wasn’t sure my budget would handle yet another bad buy. (FYI this eBook is one of the better training buys I’ve purchased in several months.)

    I waited to buy the eBook until I read a tweet that said a group called the SITS Girls were signing up women bloggers to take the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge and Darren was discounting the price of the eBook for all those who signed up. Jackpot! Not only could I get the eBook at a discounted price, but I would have a large group of women to work with. Waiting can be hard, but it’s worth it when you get what you want at a price you can afford.


  3. Sometimes a freebie is just a click away — Another author I truly admire is J.A. Konrath. He has found a way to make very good money on his eBooks through Amazon’s Kindle store, so, naturally, I follow his blog closely. He also has an eBook called The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, which, like 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, I really wanted. The price wasn’t bad, but, again, no excerpts. Then I discovered that Joe has made the eBook available for free on his website. (Thanks, Joe!)

    Voila! A little research and I had my eBook for free in a version I can read on any laptop, computer or eReader. That won’t be the case for every book or training series you might want, but it’s worth a little “foot work” to see if it’s out there (and not a pirated version!).

Finding what you need can take some time, but it’s worth it for good training on The Road to Writing.

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As I work my way through Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, I decided to take on his earlier challenge to write a post with seven links. Since this post was originally going to be about critiquing or editing, I went with seven links on that subject. Without further ado, here they are:

  1. Critters Makes for Better WritingDon’t let the title fool you. It’s not about household pets. This post about finding someone to give you honest feedback on your fiction.

  2. Sandwich Critiquing this is perhaps my favorite post, giving you a helpful technique to use when you are asked to critique someone else’s not-so-perfect manuscript.

  3. Editing With or Without a Budgetmore helpful tips on how to use money to learn how to edit

  4. Blogosphere Trends + Handling High Word Counts this is a great guest post on Problogger by Kimberly Turner on how to trim the fat in your writing.

  5. When Editing & Critiquing, Check Your Personal Opinions At The Door the title says it all. A great post by April Hamilton of Indie Author.

  6. POD People Scares Me I love this title, but that’s not the only reason I chose it. Find out why editing is possibly the most important thing you can do before sending your manuscript to the publisher or POD (print-on-demand) company.

  7. The Art of Critiquing receiving criticism is difficult, especially when the person giving it doesn’t give you helpful details you can actually use to improve your work. This post will get you thinking of specifics to address when giving criticism to someone else.

Editing your work, giving and receiving criticism, it’s all part of the process. Knowing how to do it makes it all the easier to move on down The Road to Writing.

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My Father has often said that, when you start having nightmares about your job, it’s time to move on. I can’t say I’m having nightmares, exactly, but I’ve certainly begun dreading doing anything remotely connected with being an Independent Author. However, I don’t think it’s time for me to “move on.” It’s time for me to go back to the beginning and rediscover why I became an Indie Author in the first place.

When I began, my first love was crafting entertaining stories. I spent a lot of time on Writing.com reading and contributing short stories, poems and monologues. I enjoyed giving editing tips to the authors there, especially to those in whose works I saw potential. When I sat down to work it was a pleasure, an escape even.

Flash forward to July 14, 2010. Spending 30 minutes to work on my current project, Prayerfully Yours, makes my shoulders slump, my brow pucker and my feet drag. I dutifully set my timer and check it every few minutes, trying to cheer myself on with the mantra “only X number of minutes left, then I can go play.”

What happened?!

I lost sight of the reason I began this journey in the first place. I began listening to all the “advice” out there that said I needed to market the hell out of myself to get anywhere. Marketing isn’t a bad thing. Independent Authors need to do a lot of marketing to get noticed. All of that is true, but the at some point each of us has to answer one question: what is more important, getting noticed or doing what you love?

For me it’s doing what I love most, writing. While I will be doing the Problogger 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge with the SITS community*, doing what I love most means I won’t be doing a lot of other things. It means spending less time following all those tweets, less time trolling the internet to find the latest self-publishing articles, less time doing anything that takes me away from what I’m meant to do — write.

In order to do less, yet be as effective as I’ve been (perhaps more so), I’ll be following my mentor, Marla Cilley’s (aka FlyLady), advice: “by letting go of your ineffective old habits and establishing simple routines” and “Take your babysteps to recognize when you are stressed out. Find a more fun way of doing the same old thing and reach out for help!”

How about you? Have you forgotten why you began your journey on The Road to Writing?

*The challenge for all us women bloggers begins July 19, so hurry if you want to sign up.

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As I was researching information for this post, (which is supposed to be on Financial Tips for Indie Authors) I found myself lacking inspiration. There are soooo many financial web sites out there that are targeted to just about anyone, though a quick Google search for “Financial Tips for Independent Authors” gains nothing of real value. So, as is my habit, I continued searching in different directions, hoping to find something to bring to you.

I considered venturing into my initial reason for starting TRTW (to make money online blogging) when, viola! Two and a half hours into the search I came across Master Dayton‘s article For the Casual Freelancer: If you don’t like to be told what to write…“.

Suddenly a few things clicked and I found myself signing up to be an author on Constant Content. They pay the author for each article purchased when their account reaches $5. Payment, according to their FAQ, is made at the beginning of each month. If you make more than $500 you can choose either to receive a wire transfer to your bank account or into your PayPal account (anything under $500 automatically goes into your PayPal account). Each article must adhere to their submission guidelines and if you have three articles rejected, then you can no longer upload documents to their site.

While I could be dreaming about huge payments being directly wired to my bank account, I’m not. To be sure, making money online, whether by blogging or freelancing for sites such as Constant Content, isn’t a cakewalk. In fact, although I’m looking forward to trying my hand at this new stream of income, I’ve come to believe what Darren Rowse of Problogger says in his article “9 Unsexy Truths about Making Money Online,” there are no guarantees of success. All each of us can do is try, going it one step at a time, on The Road to Writing.

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