From Writer to Writer: Heather Schweich

Meet Heather Schweich

I’ve been writing articles and essays as a hobby for about 5 years, but started seriously blogging at Milk Bubbles about 3 months ago. I tend to run on about nursing, parenting, and marriage all while wrangling two precocious boys. I currently call Central Florida home, but would not mind moving somewhere that has more than one season!

When not tied to a keyboard or serving as a human jungle gym, I have an on-again, off-again relationship with my sewing machine and crochet hooks. On the rare occasion I have a 3- or 4-hour block of kid-free time you will probably find me curled up with my nose in a Sci-Fi or Fantasy novel.

Bloggers Face Rejection Too

If your article or guest post gets rejected, try not to take it personally. As much as your writing is a part of you, no one is saying no to you, they’re just saying no to the piece. There are hundreds of reasons why your piece might not work and none of them have to do with who you are as a person.

Take any comments you are given and apply them as much as you can without compromising what makes your writing special. Evaluate any critiques you get, burn the ones that aren’t helpful and incorporate those that are. Your work should evolve and grow through this process, but never lose that quality which makes your writing distinctly yours. Be yourself!

Keep trying and try everyone. Determination pays off!

Connect With Heather

Milk Bubbles | Twitter

Top 10 Tips for New Bloggers

My very first blog post was written in 2004 on the now defunct AOL Journals. (I know, right?) Back then I was known as the Mad Secretary, and I wrote a lot of ranty, angsty crap about how much I hated clerical work. Since then I’ve had 3 different Blogger blogs, 1 blog and 1 Typepad blog.

Then about a year ago I bought and started Suess’s Pieces. And you know what, guys? I think this could  be my blog’s forever home.

Anyway, doing this blogging thing for seven years has taught me a lot, and I’m going to share what I’ve learned with all you noobies out there.

Top 10 Tips for New Bloggers

  1.  Accept your blog for what it is. Free blogs are great, and fulfill a very important purpose. But there’s a chance you’ll  end up with blog envy after about a week. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent on my Blogger blogs tweaking the template HTML and trying desperately to turn them into something they could never be. Man, I wish I could get those hours back now.
  2. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. You can fill your sidebars with gobs of blinking blog awards, but do you really want to be responsible for giving someone a seizure? If you feel it’s just too rude to ignore awards from other bloggers, you can acknowledge them in a single post. Then just let them gracefully fade into your archives.
  3. Don’t compare yourself to the A-listers. If you didn’t pay a grand for your blog template, don’t compare it to any of those celebrity blogs out there. Yeah they look prettier, smarter, and more customized than yours. That’s because the owner shelled out some serious cash for template customizations and killer design.
  4. Don’t use auto-play anything. Ever. I admit I put some auto-play songs on an old blog like five or 6 years ago. It’s not something I’m proud of.
  5. Make sure your RSS feed works, and publish the full post. Some well-established bloggers truncate their feed to force click-throughs to their site. It’s a personal pet peeve of mine. Although some of the big guys can get away with it, as a new blogger I recommend you publish posts in their entirety for your RSS subscribers. If the content is provocative enough, they’ll still click through.
  6. Don’t steal stuff. Don’t rip off content or photos. If you quote another blogger, do it sparingly and always include a link back to the original site or post. It’s about more than just respecting copyright law, it’s about respecting other people.
  7. Use pictures. There are plenty of places to get images that are licensed for reuse, and you can always upload your own. Even the most well-written posts are enhanced by a simple photo or graphic.
  8. Complete a profile or include an ‘about’ section. Blogging is a social activity, and your readers want to know about the person behind the blog. Even if you’re blogging for your business, it’s a good idea to include some personal tidbits that show readers a real, living, breathing person is working behind the scenes.
  9. Don’t take blogging too seriously. Even professional blogs should be enjoyable to maintain. Don’t be afraid to try something new, and don’t be afraid to fail. If a post or idea  flops, it flops.
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Bloggers are a friendly bunch for the most part, so if you have a question about how to do something or you just want some advice? Ask for it! Send an email, post a question, or use a poll to get input from your community.

What advice would you give to new bloggers?

Photo credit: alicja_sto

This post is part of #SummerBlogSocial 2011 hosted by Liz and Jessica and is a response to the prompt, “If a real life friend approached you and said, ‘I want to start a blog. Can you give me a list of helpful tips?’, what 10 (or more) things would you tell your friend?”

The Better Blogger Checklist

By Praveen Rajarao of Daily Morning Coffee

How many times have you realized after publishing your post that you forgot to spell-check or one of your external links was broken or you didn’t include the right keywords or you forgot to proofread your post for grammatical mistakes? I have made this mistake  many times and had to republish the article after making several minor changes throughout the content (most of them found by my wife who actually proof-reads for me now!!!).

So, having undergone all this, and wanting to avoid reworking my published posts, I thought it was time to come up with a meaningful checklist which I could follow diligently before hitting that “publish” button. I thought for a while about the various mistakes I have made in the past with my initial posts and after devoting a considerable amount of time to it, I came up with the 13-point checklist you see below. Now I have this printed and pinned onto my study table next to my laptop, and it really helps me to remember to follow these steps after writing every article.

Do I read my post after writing it?

This was one unhealthy habit of mine not to read what I had written. I considered my writing as the ultimate final version and used to publish straight-away. I realized that reading my own writing will help me correct almost 90% of problems in my post.

Is the post complete?

Sometimes during the flow of thoughts during writing, one may not realize that a part of the post might have gone unfinished as you skipped on to your immediate next thought. Once your post is written, it will be a good idea to review for the completeness of the ideas and thoughts as you have visualized.

Did I research related keywords?

Your post might be perfect, but before publishing, you will need to do a little research on the keywords that you will want to use for your new post. Using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool you can find relevant keywords to your blog and properly optimize them for helping the search engines to rightly index your post.

Did I get my title correct?

Having the right title to your post is usually more important than the whole content itself, this is because the title is what makes the reader go through the entire article. You should ensure that your keywords are a part of your title which will again help with your SEO activities.

Did I proofread?

Having a second pair of eyes to proofread your article is always better, but may not always work out with everyone. You may have read your post after writing, but go through the whole post again, now concentrating on grammatical mistakes and sentence formations. Reading out loud will sometimes help you realize that the sentences are not properly formed and may need to be broken down into multiple lines.

Did I interlink with other posts?

It is very important to interlink to at least 2-3 related posts of yours from any new post. This will allow the user to remain on your site without bouncing out by clicking some ad links or some other external link. Before publishing the post, make sure you have properly interlinked and all your link URLs are in working condition.

Did I include quality external links?

Bing is one such search engine that stresses “good neighborhood” linking on a blog. This means that your external links should be of good quality and of a higher ranking. This makes it necessary for you to identify related blog articles and provide links to them on your blog. Do not overdo this since it might result in losing your readers to more professional bloggers around you.

Are the links working?

One other factor to consider while providing the url links is to include the ‘/’ at the end, this will improve the speed with which your server will bring up the post without having to do a complicated algorithm to figure out which post you are referring to. Also ensure the correctness of the links and avoid any spelling mistakes. Having a broken link is the easiest way to lose your readers.

Did I credit my sources?

There is no harm in re-using other bloggers’ information, but it is always a good practice to credit the original writer by mentioning the source. One post which gave me the initial idea to come up with my checklist was one by Darren Rowse. As you can see the date on the post by Darren is 2008 and still today all those points hold true to a blogger. This is areal quality post by a professional writer.

Did I include an image?

An image speaks 1000 words, so why not use it when required? Images are a good way to attract traffic to your post and also will help you to optimize your search traffic to an extent by use of Image Sitemaps. There are many places on the web to find the right image to your blog like – iStockPhoto, Stock.xchng, YotoPhoto etc.

Did I optimize the permalink?

This has always been a debatable topic—what should be the permalink of your post? Should it be a date/month format (which is easily read by your host server) or should it be customized to the post name (which might result slow down page load). I am still convinced that having a human-readable permalink structure, which has proven to be well optimized for most of the search engines, is best.

Am I engaging my readers?

Make it a point to make your readers think about your post by asking a question or a poll at the end. This will leave them giving it more thought and thus  encourage them to leave a comment or two on your blog. Comments received are traffic achieved, which might also result in returning customers checking to see if their thought had any impact on the author.

Is it a good day for traffic?

The best days for traffic are proven to be Mondays, Tuesdays & Wednesdays. If you have written a “killer” article and publish it on Sunday, you can give up the hope of gaining any new traffic for your new hot post. Also keep in mind international holidays and seasons before publishing a post. All your hard work in writing the whole post might go unnoticed if published at the wrong time.

This checklist has proven to be useful for me in many ways. Do you have anything that you would like to add to this and make it even more informative and helpful to all the bloggers in general? Do share your thoughts in the comments.

About Praveen Rajarao – I am a start-up blogger and run my own personal website, where I blog about various niche topics ranging from Life to Blogging to Technology and some How-To guides. You can also follow me on Twitter.

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