Home » Blogging Tips

Category Archives: Blogging Tips

Should You Commit to an A-Z Challenge?

The Challenge: To Do or Not To Do

I have just finished the April 2016 AtoZ Challenge with about 1346 other bloggers. I had two blogs in the challenge, Barb’s Garden Observations and Paso Robles in Photos. The challenge was to write a new post every day in April except Sundays. You could choose your own theme for each blog. I chose Plants for the gardening blog and Things You Might See or Experience in Paso Robles for the other. I have now come to the end of that long road and have experienced both the positives and negatives of the challenge. If you are presented with the opportunity, should you commit to an A-Z Challenge?

Should You Commit to an A-Z Challenge?

Are You Ready for a Challenge?

Before you accept the challenge and start to climb that mountain to complete it, evaluate how it might affect your life. Different personalities might be affected differently. This is especially true if you are not able to complete it. Life happens. Will you feel like a failure if you don’t finish something you start, even if there’s a very good reason for it? If so, maybe you aren’t the person who should take the challenge. I see that many of those who started it did not complete it. It’s easy to fall behind. If you’ve got a lot on your plate already, maybe this isn’t the right time.

Are you the sort of person that will complete it or die trying?  That’s the sort of I am. I almost did die trying. There are a couple of times I maybe should have gone to the emergency room for heart symptoms, but that would have thrown me off schedule and since they weren’t really bad, I opted just to take it easier. Trying to complete the challenge on both blogs often kept me up when I should have gone to bed. I didn’t allow time to fix proper meals on some days.

Count the cost before accepting the challenge. Know your limitations. Know what the challenge requires. I did much more than was required in most posts because I did not want to compromise the usual quality of my posts. Had I just done the minimum, I would not have been as stressed. If you tend to be a perfectionist in your blogging who wants to feel a post is the best work you can do, maybe a challenge isn’t for you. You might be better off posting on your regular schedule on topics you think are important and writing them to meet your own goals instead of trying to do a post a day of lesser quality just to meet the challenge.

Should You Commit to an A-Z Challenge?

Pros of Accepting an A-Z Challenge

I learned a lot doing these challenges. It wasn’t a waste of time.

  • I learned to be more disciplined about my writing schedule.
  • I got some new followers who were also doing the challenge, since we were encouraged to visit others on the linky for the challenge.
  • I started getting more traffic on one of the blogs I had not posted much to this year,  because posting was more consistent and there was more content for Google to search.
  • I improved my vocabulary as I read the dictionary trying to find subjects for those odd letters like “X.”
  • I met other bloggers I wanted to follow.

Cons of Doing the A-Z Challenge

  • I put too much pressure on myself and added unnecessary stress to my life.
  • I sometimes found myself posting just to post on subjects out of my comfort zone in order to conform to the alphabet. This often affected the quality of my blog, which I felt didn’t meet my usual standards when the alternative would be cutting back on more sleep than I could afford. This might cost me followers,  but so far it hasn’t.
  • I was neglecting other online work that ultimately  was more important than getting the challenge finished, but my personality is such that I didn’t want to quit until I completed the challenge.

Would I Do Do the A-Z Challenge Again?

I think I’ll probably pass on it next year. I did it this year because some of my friends were going to do it. I didn’t think it through or count the cost. I tend to be impulsive that way. When the unexpected health situations hit both me and my husband, I still wanted to finish. When Google made a change in policy that made it important to redo links in many blogs, I delayed making the changes because of the demands on my time with the challenge. And besides all that, I’ve used all the “X” and “Z” words that apply to my blog topics.

When all is said and done, I’m not sorry I did the challenge.  I feel good about having reached the top of the climb. It was a long journey, and sometimes I did feel like quitting before I reached my goal when the going  got tough. I have a sense of accomplishment instead of the failure I might have felt had I given up.  If I ever say I want to do it again, though, please give me a little kick.

Have you ever taken this official Blogging from A to Z Challenge that happens in April each year? What was your experience with it?

If this post was helpful, please pass it on. There are sharing buttons provided. The image below was designed for pinning on Pinterest.

Should You Commit to an A-Z Challenge?


Try Pajama Affiliates Marketing Course for Free

You can now sample the Pajama Affiliates blogging course I have been raving about since I bought it for free. I have since bought several more of the courses. The video courses are  perfect for someone wanting to learn to make real money blogging without any gimmicks or having to make one’s own products to sell. It’s designed for those who want to be successful affiliate marketers.

Try Pajama Affiliates Marketing Course for Free

Many of my readers have expressed interest in this course before and felt they just could not afford to make the investment it took for even an inexpensive course. Anyone, though, can afford  to sample the best of the courses offered for free. Not only will you get to see several of the videos that have helped so many, but you will also be admitted to the members only Facebook group for help and support. If you then decide after watching the videos and being part of the group that you want to actually buy a course, you will automatically be informed on the list of any course that goes on sale so that you don’t miss any great opportunities for a bargain.

If you click the link below you will land on a page that explains exactly what you will get for your dollar. It includes watching some of the actual  course videos watched by those who have bought the course. You will learn some of the most important aspects of affiliate marketing. You will  learn how others are driving traffic to their blogs and converting blog readers to buyers of the recommended affiliate products. I wish I had had this opportunity, but this offer just become available today. You can take advantage of it and actually try out the course before making an investment to  buy it. Don’t miss this chance to get the Pajama Affiliates Fast Pass course for free and get access to the support group for those taking the classes. 

When Will I Get Earnings from My Blog?

When Will I Get Earnings from My Blog?
When Will I Get Earnings from My Blog?

Some people blog to keep a record of their thoughts and activities for their own use or to share with friends and family. Technically, that’s where the word blog came from – weblog — shortened to blog. Originally blogs were online diaries or journals of daily activities. Some blogs still are. Unless you are a celebrity, though, that kind of blog is not likely to make money today.

People who want to make money for the writing they do on their blogs have to attract people who want to read what they say. There are currently over 150 million blogs on the internet. That’s a lot of competition for eyeballs. How will you get those eyeballs to your blog?

After reading dozens of blogs on this subject, most agree a blogger who wants to earn money must present a solution to a problem a reader has. That reader will probably go to Google looking for answers to his or her problem. Goggle will present links that people have paid to have appear at the top, and underneath will be links to the pages Google thinks will best help people find solutions to the problems they are trying to solve.

If your blog post helps people solve a common problem better than other blog posts, or if your post solves a problem not too many other bloggers have dealt with, you are likely to get traffic from people who will actually spend money to solve their problems.

To make money, you first have to know which problems people are trying to solve and then write something that will help them solve those problems. Review products that will help solve the problems. A desperate person whose kitchen counter is full of ants just may  click your affiliate link to buy a product you suggested. A person who can barely  function because he can’t sleep at night just might click on a link to buy one or more of the product solutions you proposed. Of course, people have to find your blog first, or they will read someone else’s and buy the products from them.

I have been reading many blogs written by people who make money from them. Some review one product and do it very well. Others have websites aimed at those looking for gift suggestions with tabs for different categories. Both sorts of blogs are focused on solving people’s shopping problems

Other bloggers who make big bucks make their own digital products like courses and eBooks to help solve people’s problems. Then they sell them to people. They offer free samples in exchange for joining an email list, and then that list is used to directly market more products.

You can, however, be doing one or more of these things and not be making any money yet. Usually this is because

1. No one is finding your blog.

2. You aren’t giving people the solutions they believe will solve their problems.

I’m not yet an expert in either of these areas. I’m still learning. That’s why I signed up for the Pajama Affiliate Blogging courses. I was encouraged to see my first few Amazon sales come in this month shortly after I started the courses. I have only just begun to apply what I’m learning, but those new sales gave me the encouragement I needed to keep blogging. If you are struggling to make your blogs pay you for your efforts, I highly recommend these courses. I know I’m learning from people whose methods work. Read why My Pajama Affiliate Blogging Courses are Worth Every Cent I Paid for Them. Or go explore the Pajama Affiliate courses for yourself now. It costs nothing to look. If you look now you may still be in time for the New Year’s Sale with prices slashed by almost 50%. But hurry!

Just working hard isn’t enough.  I must learn to work smarter than I have been for the past few years. I’m now taking the steps I need to do that.

Bloggers Need Other Bloggers

Bloggers Need Bloggers
Share What Friends Write

One thing I’ve been learning as I’ve been blogging is that bloggers need each other. Rather than thinking of ourselves as competitors, we should be looking out for each other’s interests — not just our own. As many of us have learned, we can’t depend upon Google to send us traffic. It changes too often, and there’s always others competing for placement on our keywords who may have more money than we do to promote their listings. This is why we need to help promote each other in social media and with backlinks. Bloggers need other bloggers to help them succeed.

One of the best bloggers I know, Janice Wald, is also one of the most generous. You can find Janice at Mostly Blogging. You will learn something you don’t know from her, I guarantee it. She also hosts meet and greet blogs that allow you to get some exposure to her vast audience.

I have been seeing visits to my main blog increase since I’ve  been working with others to help them get more social exposure. As I read their blogs, I learn more about what works and what doesn’t and how I can apply it to my own blog. There are many Facebook groups where bloggers can help promote each other’s pins, Google+ posts, and maybe more social sites.  Janice Wald has some sharing set up for Stumble Upon, a site I haven’t used as much as I should. Check her blog I linked to above for more information. I have also found Triberr very helpful in extending my Twitter reach.

As I read the posts of others, even if I can’t think of a comment to make or don’t have time, it’s not much effort to give a blogger a G+ or a pin on a post, and it will do  them worlds of good in being more visible online. We all want to be successful. But we should also be thinking in terms of what we can easily do to help make our blogging buddies successful. If you read a good post, share it on one or two social media channels.It only takes a minute, and it’s a precious gift.  Be sure to also install sharing buttons on your blog to make it easy for others to share your posts. Every now and then look up your friends on Google + or Pinterest and give their pins and posts some love by commenting, liking, and / or giving a +1 or repinning. Let’s help each other become more successful.

My Pajama Affiliate Courses Are Worth Every Penny I Paid for Them

What is a Pajama Affiliate?

My Pajama Affiliate Courses Are Worth Every Penny I Paid for Them
Bloggers Can’t Stop Raving about Pajama Associates

Two weeks ago I had never heard of the Pajama Affiliates. Then suddenly all my old Squidoo friends were chatting on Facebook about this great new course they were taking to help them make more money as Amazon affiliates. Now these folks were not new to blogging or affiliate marketing. Most of them have always made more a year than the dismal $13.04 I made in 2015 as an Amazon affiliate. Lesley Stevens, teacher of the Amazon Mastermind Course I’m taking now, made over $50,000 just in December, 2015. When I saw that proof that she knew her stuff I was convinced enough of the value of the course to buy it. After all, a lot of people have learned how to make a sales pitch for a course, but not everyone is offering value.  A Pajama Affiliate is one who is taking a Pajama Blogging course to increase the amount of affiliate income she can make in her pajamas at home.  My Pajama Affiliate Courses are worth every penny I paid for them.

Why I Became a Pajama Affiliate

Last year I purchased a different course on making money blogging and I paid much more for it. Then when I got into the course, again a video course, I discovered that the two teachers made most of their money selling courses and eBooks they had made rather than through the affiliate marketing programs of sites like Amazon. They made most of their money by getting email addresses and marketing their own courses and programs by email . They were teaching their students to make their money the same way. I haven’t finished that course yet. I’m not eager to start writing courses and newsletters. I don’t think I know enough to offer value yet. I saw proof that Leslie has made a lot of her money in Amazon commissions, the same way I’d like to make it. She is a genius at affiliate marketing.

As I pondered whether to purchase the course, my friends continued to rave about it. They claimed they were already starting to make more sales than they ever had before after watching just the first few videos. Although I don’t prefer learning by video, once I signed up for the course I saw that the main points in the video are reviewed in writing under the videos.

That is very helpful for people like me who don’t like to watch things over and over. If course members have questions or want to get feedback, they have access to two private Facebook groups for members only. There is no time limit for accessing the course videos or the Facebook groups. If you can’t afford to buy a course, you can rent access for a limited time at a lower price.  This course often goes on sale, but sales come and go so fast it’s best to just click the image to check the current price. The details are on the page describing the Step by Step Home Blogging Course for Beginners. Just click the image below.


My Pajama Affiliate Courses Are Worth Every Penny I Paid for Them


I’m Getting Value

One thing I’ve learned so far is that if I want to make money, I am going to have to learn to do keyword research. I have always ignored this before because I found it confusing. That is one of the first things the Amazon Mastermind Course covers. Today, since I have already learned so much I can apply immediately, I signed up for Bonus Buyer Keywords. and Free Advertising with Social Media course. These courses have taught me a lot it would have taken me hours of research to learn on my own. The Affiliate Masterclass advertised above is often on sale for a limited time. It has just been updated and improved. If you click the link above you can see the current prices of all courses. Usually one or more is one sale. That includes the brand new Affiliate Marketing Classes Business Bundle that now includes the Affiliate Masterclass and the best of all the other courses. It’s the very best value for your money. Get the Affiliate Marketing Classes Business Bundle now if you have not yet purchased any of the other courses. If you already have a course, you may be able to upgrade at a reduced price. You can even sample the best of the courses for free. 

In the past I have been rotten at affiliate selling. I always felt that some of the people taking the course with me now had had their Squidoo lenses locked for good reason. I thought some of the ones I had seen were spammy, with about three paragraphs of text and rows and rows of product images. That is not what I wanted to write. I don’t like writing catalogs. When I looked at the blogs course teacher Lesley Stevens had written and used as examples to follow, they weren’t spammy at all. They offered real value to readers, and I could immediately see why she got so many sales from them. I would like to blog like that. This informative course is taking the guesswork out of how to do it. I don’t think I’ll be making $50,000 next December like Lesley did this year, but I sure could use $50 a month to start while I’m learning. What a bonus it would be to make even more!

This is your chance to start increasing your blogging income by working smarter instead of harder. Don’t miss this opportunity to take advantage of whatever sales are still in effect as you read this. Now you can sample the best of the courses for free

One Reason Why People May Not Be Sharing Your Blog

Blogs Should Be Written in Standard English

Easy writing makes hard reading...
Created on ShareasImage.com

I belong to a lot of blogging groups and networks where people share links to their blogs with the hopes that other members of the groups will read and comment on the blogs and share them on social media. I do a lot of that. There are many people I really like and would like to help by sharing their work, but I can’t. Most people on my Twitter networks are professional people – teachers, authors, professional bloggers, and others with college degrees.

No matter how clever or interesting I find a blog to be, it would not be appropriate to share something that is full of grammatical errors with that audience. If I were to share that sort of blog, I would lose followers. People will make allowances for the kinds of errors made by those who are writing English as a second language if their native tongues have a much different structure than English. Many foreign students who have graduated from American universities still have not mastered the parts of our language that have nothing comparable in their own.

Example: My husband was born in Serbia and grew up speaking Serbian. After graduating from UCLA and speaking English here for over fifty years, he still cannot always use a, an, and the properly because his native language doesn’t have any comparable words before nouns. Americans just naturally say “The house,” “an apple,” etc., because they grew up hearing it. My husband would say “I bought loaf of bread” or “I ate apple.” That sounds strange to American ears, but it has the same effect on an American native listener as hearing someone speak with an accent.

What doesn’t go over well with those who speak and write standard English is reading blogs and articles that any high school English teacher, and I was one, would have marked with a lot of red ink. There are certain mistakes that high school graduates should not be making, and many bloggers I read from groups I belong to make those errors.

Common Mistakes I See that You Can Fix

Use Irregular Verbs Correctly

One error I see frequently is misusing verb tenses. One of the most common is writing or saying “I seen” instead of “I saw.” “To see” is an irregular verb. Regular verbs form the past tense by adding an ed or a d to the end of the verb. Example: I remember becomes I remembered, I cook becomes I cooked. Some verbs, though, form their past tenses differently, and you just have to memorize the correct forms.

Here is a list of the most frequently used irregular verbs. This resource also explains the forms and how to use them. I suggest you check it out if you make any of these mistakes.

To use to go properly in all three tenses, one would say I go (present tense) or I went (past tense) or I have gone (past participle). It is a mistake to say “I gone to the store.” That is using the past participle form as the past tense. It is the same mistake people make when they say “I seen it” instead of “I saw it” or “I done it” instead of “I did it.”

Most American-born English speakers who make these mistakes make them because they hear verbs used this way at home and among friends and this usage seems normal to them. It is not what they were taught in school, unless their teachers also grew up hearing non-standard English. To be taken seriously as a writer or blogger in English, though, you need to write standard English.

I’m not suggesting that you try to memorize the names of the parts of speech. I am suggesting you look at the chart and practice using the tenses properly. Every day, practice reciting the proper forms out loud several times until they seem normal to you. Here’s a list to practice:

I was. They were.

I came. He came with me. They came later.

I did it. She did it, too. They did it all the time.

I drank a glass of water. She drank milk. They all drank lemonade.

I went to the store. She went alone. They went crazy. We went to the movies.

I rang the bell. He rang the bell. They rang the bell.

I ran away. He ran after me, We ran for twenty minutes. They ran a mile.

I saw the show. She saw the dog run down the street. They saw a bank robbery. We saw the new baby.

My sweater shrank. The clothes shrank.

I swam across the river. She swam behind me. We all swam in the new pool.

If you learn these and use them correctly, you will be taken more seriously when you speak and write than if you use them incorrectly. If the sentences above sound strange to you, you need to practice them until they don’t.

Don’t Make Sentence Errors

Sentence errors definitely will keep people from taking you seriously as a blogger. They indicate you haven’t mastered basic writing skills, since the most basic element in writing is the sentence. Some bloggers who have great content make it unsharable by writing in sentence fragments, comma splices, and run-on sentences. Their writing looks something like this.

I love my dog he is so loyal. His giant appetite makes it impossible. To give him enough food to keep him satisfied. He’s always wanting to go for a walk. By the lake next to the park. When it rains and it’s muddy out. He tracks mud back into the house. Yesterday we went for a long walk, we got very muddy.

I think you get the idea. That paragraph contained all three kinds of sentence errors. Did you spot them? Learn more about sentence errors and how to fix them from this video. If you haven’t the patience to watch the video, the content is written out below it. If you want a simpler video, try this one, which is a bit more fun.

If you still have questions or need more information, this is more complete.


It’s Worth the Effort to Clean Up These Mistakes

If you want people to share your blog posts with their social networks, you need to make sure you have mastered writing standard English. Proofread your work carefully to make sure your sentences are complete and are not run-on sentences or comma splices. Get yourself a good reference book on writing and English usage and grammar. I personally use Writers Inc, an English Handbook that is very user friendly. It tells you everything you need to know about how to write in standard English.

Only you can decide to improve your skills. You can continue to be read only by your blogging friends who are more interested in what you say than in how you say it, or you can polish your skills and expand your audience. The choice is yours.

How to Promote Your Blog on Triberr

Why Join Triberr?

Giraffes: Join a Triberr Tribe
Join a Tribe at Triberr.

For years now I’ve seen references to Triberr as a blog promotion tool, and three days ago I decided to join. It does two things for me right now. First, I have more people  who promote my blog on Twitter, and I have more blog readers and views. Second, my Twitter followers have increased. This is all done without buying followers or joining some sort of exchange

Triberr can help you get your blog promoted on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I have chosen to only promote mine on Twitter, since I don’t consider my blogs appropriate for sharing on my Facebook pages. It would duplicate what I already post on my Facebook business page. As you join tribes on Triberr, other tribe members see the feed for your blog and there are tools that make it easy for them to share it on social media. This results in more people visiting your blog and more people promoting it on Twitter.

How Do I Get Started on Triberr?

When I first joined the site I was quite lost. I had to understand how to find my way around. Here’s what you need to do.

  1. Sign up for a Triberr account. You can use a Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn account to log in, but be sure you use the one it’s easiest to use. Example: I connected a Twitter account that I don’t usually have in Chrome one one computer, so I opened my account using that Twitter address on a different computer where I will also use Triberr in the same browser. If you only have one Twitter or Facebook acccount, it doesn’t matter. I haven’t connected my other social networks because I only want to share my connected blogs on Twitter.
  2. Get information on how Triberr works. Once your account is active, some pop-ups will appear to help you find your way around. I suggest you read them. Read documentation in the support center to learn about streams and tribes. Learn how to join a tribe here. Learn about what you see under your stream tab at the top of your pages here.
  3. Join a tribe. This is tricky. If you click your Tribes tab at the top of your page, you can scroll down to the section that says Explore Tribes. To the right of the suggestions you see, there is a heading Finding an Awesome Tribe and there is a drop down menu where you can choose categories to explore so you can find some close to your interests. Don’t be hasty in choosing a tribe. Explore several, including their members and their streams. I will write more about joining tribes in a future post. You want to choose a tribe with a subject related to the blog you want to connect to your account. With a free account, you can only connect two blogs. They should be the best blogs and the ones you post to all the time.
  4. Connect your blogs  in the blog settings. To do this you go to your account dropdown menu at the top of the page and select settings. It will look like this. You decide which blog you  want to attach to each  tribe. Decide carefully, since you  can only  change that blog assignment once every thirty days. Click the Add Blog button. Your will want to get the Triberr plugin for your WordPress blog. There is no plugin for Blogger blogs. Once you install your plugin on your blog, you will come back to this settings page and click Show Blog Token to get the number to put in your settings on your Triberr blog plugin.  It sounds more complicated than it really is. Triberr Blog Setting Screen Shot
  5. Assign one blog to each  tribe. To do that, click the Assign Tribes button and follow the instructions.
  6. Start interacting and sharing posts of others in your tribes.







Getting Started in Your Tribe

After you have set up your blog, it is ready to feed into the stream of your tribe. But it won’t do that until your chief makes you a full member. Everyone begins as a follower.

Before you join a tribe, click the Members tab. See how many people have been promoted to members. The more that have been promoted, the more likely it is that the chief is active and approving people quickly. You can also see under the Conversations tab how quickly the Chief answers questions. I was approved within two days for full membership in five tribes. I’m awaiting approval in some others. At the end of each profile page you can see what tribes the member belongs to in case you want to check out some of those tribes. You will see my current tribes at the very end of my profile after all my blog posts.

If you demonstrate that you plan to be active by sharing the work of others, the chief may promote you to member status. Then your work will start feeding into the stream for other members of your tribe to see. You can speed up this process by making sure your profile looks good. Change the default cover profile cover photo and upload an avatar. Here’s my profile. Then comment in your tribe under the Conversations tab. Explain a bit what your blog is about, your interests, and anything else that might convince the chief you’d be an actively sharing member. What you write should be tailor-made for the tribe you joined. Pasting the same comment in a bunch of tribe pages won’t cut it. Each comment should be unique to that tribe. Here’s an example of what I wrote for my favorite tribe, A Thing of Beauty.

I write daily about photos I take around my local area on the Central Coast of California. My special interests are the vineyards, the river, native plants and trees, gardens, and local art. I look for anything beautiful or unusual. I’d love to be a full member here.

The chief there is very active and helpful. She will also explain why if she doesn’t promote you to member.

I hope I’ve given you an idea of what you need to do to get started at Triberr.  If you have questions, feel free to put them in the comments. If you are a member of Triberr, feel  free to link  to your Triberr profile in the comments. If you aren’t a member and you believe your blog is worthy of a wider audience and just needs to be discovered, join Triberr and see if it does for you what it’s doing for me. If you join a tribe and it isn’t a good fit for you, it’s easy to leave it by clicking leave next to your name on the member list.

Now go have fun  exploring Triberr.

Using Twitter to Bring traffic to Your Blogs

Let's be social on Twitter
Let’s be social on Twitter

Everyone would like to get more traffic to their blogs. Most of us use social media to do that. It is wonderful that our sites have sharing buttons on them, but they won’t bring in much  traffic if we don’t use them wisely. Today I will focus on using Twitter wisely. What I say may not follow what you’ve  heard before.

Most of the people I follow seem to use Twitter like a huge bulletin board on which they post links for the world to see. Do you also use it that way? Do you post your links and then go  back to whatever else you were  doing? Or do you stop for a few minutes to repost what someone else has posted, follow a link, and maybe comment on a blog they posted? Do you retweet posts you like? Do you ever respond to a tweet by answering a question someone has asked or asking them a question about what they posted?


Doing those things is interacting. Doing those things makes you stand out among the hundreds or thousands of followers who never given any indication they have noticed the tweets those they follow post.  What good does it do to have 5,000 followers if none of them read or respond to your tweets? It would be better to have 50 who did.

Tweet Cloud
In public domain courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/cloud-blog-tweet-like-share-parts-709148/

Let’s say you wanted to retweet someone else’s tweet. How would you pick which tweets to retweet? Well, you might want to retweet a funny one. Or one with a beautiful photo attached that would make your feed more attractive. Maybe you would look for a clever quote. Or maybe you would look at the feed of new followers or people who have retweeted you and try to find something of theirs to retweet so they know you are listening and won’t stop following you. I have a couple of people mention me occasionally as one of their  top interactors. That kind of motivated me to keep retweeting them. Sometimes they retweet me, too, to return the favor.

How can you get people to interact with your tweets or retweet them? Interact with them first. If you find some live ones, keep interacting with them so that some back and forth develops between you.  This will build positive energy between you.  You will become people to each other — not just Tweeple.

But all the positive energy in the world won’t get you retweeted if you haven’t posted anything but bare links to blogs or links to products you are selling. Something in your tweets has to get someone’s interest enough to make them click on your link or retweet a photo or quote or remark. Posting automated links won’t always do it. I remember back in my Squidoo days when there was a share link that would tweet something like “I just updated this Squidoo lens (link).” It didn’t even have the title of the lens or topic. I don’t think many of those links got clicked on. We don’t have to post  links the way they are automated. Here’s what pops up when I want to share a BlogJob post to Twitter. Here’s what I do.

Twitter Interface in BlogJob

As you see,  I have lots of choices. I can click “tweet” and my post will go up as is right away. I can also choose the Hootlet or Buffer button if I want to schedule my posts for later. (I have free memberships to  both apps.) I can also change the wording of what’s posted to make it catchier or more enticing. I can add hashtags to make my tweet more searchable. Here’s what I did before taking the next screenshot.

Revised Screenshot of Twitter Interface

As you can see, I changed everything but the link itself to try to engage my followers. I also added a very important hashtag that I can only use when I post on Monday. I only use it on my best blogs. #Mondayblogs is a special hashtag invented by author Rachel Thompson for bloggers to share their blogs on Monday and retweet other blogs with the hashtag on that same Monday. Read the Mondayblogs hashtag rules here. Again, only use this tag on posts you are very proud of. Most of the people following and retweeting links are writers, many of them published in print, and if your blog is not well-written, they will remember and not follow your links again. Retweets from using the tag can help you, since many of those who use and retweet it have more followers than you might have. The other side of this coin is that you should follow the links that look interesting and retweet them. It’s a two-way street where bloggers help each other.

That’s what we ought to  do here, too. I have one of my three Twitter account feeds in my sidebar on most of my blogs here. It’s in the bottom of the right sidebar on this blog if you want to see my  current feed and follow me. I try to practice what I preach. You will notice that only a few of the links are to my work. I also tweet out all the links to articles that are posted on a site I contribute to once a week, many BlogJob blogs I’ve enjoyed, and many links I’ve found on my Facebook Bloggers groups. I try to promote any good work  I see that my online friends do. I have no idea if they return the favor, but it doesn’t matter. It’s not all about me.

I think carefully about what those in my Twitter accounts will enjoy seeing or reading and I post it. I don’t always post everything to each group because they have different audiences. My religious and political views are expressed more on my @Gale427 account. My @barbsloco account focuses most on what’s going on in California and my local  community and I follow mostly people from California there or those interested in my community and the wine country around it. My @barbsbooks account is my original account that was connected to my book business and contains more posts about books and education than the others. Handy hints and recipes, etc., might be of interest to those in all accounts, but not everything else is. I try to aim my tweets at my specific audience.

How do you use Twitter? Do you have any hints to add to these?

A Review: Grammarly — a Help or a Hindrance to Online Writers?

Blogging on Three DevicesNot long ago I heard by way of the social media that Grammarly was a great little program for checking grammar and spelling online. How many of us don’t make typos or accidentally use the wrong word? I seem to have trouble with my shift key when typing a capital I, for example. It’s a pain to go back and correct it, and sometimes I even have trouble seeing the mistake when I proofread. I expected that Grammarly would solve my problems. So I installed it to Chrome as a browser extension.

Now I’ve been using it for about two weeks. I’ve had a chance to see it in action. Sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it. Like most applications of this sort, it cannot read my mind. I have a graduate degree in English and taught high school English. I have also been paid to proofread and edit the application essays of international students to graduate business schools in the United States. I know the language.

Either some of what my professors taught is now obsolete, or Grammarly isn’t as accurate as I am. It makes what I consider to be grammatical errors when it urges me to add or get rid of commas, change verb tenses, and make other changes that would hurt, not help, my writing. I also often catch my mistakes before Grammarly does, and just as I’m about to correct them, Grammarly pops up with a screen to “help” me that gets in the way of my correcting the mistake on my own by covering up the text I am trying to correct.

I would probably be better off editing the document on their website. It’s not such a problem there. When you edit the document on their site, the mistakes are just underlined in red for spelling errors and green for grammar and usage errors. Then you just click the word and Grammarly points out the suggested corrections. If you want to use them, you click their corrected version. If you think they are wrong, you click to ignore them. You don’t have those annoying pop-ups. Here’s a snipped example of what Grammarly did when I uploaded this document  to them. This is the first paragraph before I corrected it. To accept their suggestions, I would click on the green. For an explanation, I would click the down arrow. To ignore, I would click the x at the end.


Snip of Grammarly Corrections 1
Snip of Grammarly Corrections 1


Grammarly is most useful to me when I make mistakes in typing or when programs auto-correct me incorrectly and put the wrong words in. It makes it really easy to change my frequent mistakes in typing, especially in the use of the shift key. It also catches me when I accidentally use the wrong homonym. For example, if I type What do you hear Jamie? Grammarly might pop up with a note that asks “Did you mean to say Here?” I then click to ignore. Grammarly missed telling me that I left out a comma. The sentence should really read  What do you hear, Jamie? But if I type Are trees are dying. Grammarly might ask me if I had really meant to say Our instead of Are so I can be aware of my mistake, which a normal spell checker would miss, and correct it with a click. Eight Ate is a humorous way to learn your homonyms.

Although Grammarly might be thought of as a blessing to those learning English, it might be a curse, instead. Grammarly does often make mistakes. I am using the free version and I don’t know if the premium version is better or not. In the free version you are often told you are making a grammatical error by, for example, using the wrong tense of the verb to be. Usually this is in a phrase where I’m using a participle as a noun or an adjective. Here’s an example: The man mowing the lawn is my friend. Grammarly might prompt me to correct mowing‘s verb tense, but I’m using it as an adjective to modify man, not as a verb. When Grammarly makes these kinds of suggestions, it usually does not give you a solution you can click. Instead it mentions the problem, and you have to know the language to know how to correct that mistake yourself.

Here’s another snip from some nonsense I uploaded to Grammarly for correction. I deliberately made mistakes to see what Grammarly would tell me. Grammarly’s suggestions are on the left.


Snip of Grammarly Corrections 2



I give Grammarly a “C” on its suggestions here. It missed correcting the first sentence which ought to read James hates sleeping. It did catch me using Our instead of Are. It did catch the error in gets and suggested a proper correction. I think it missed the first error by thinking that James was a plural noun instead of a name ending in s. This shows that no automated program will catch everything. A program like this is only useful for those whose English skills are sufficient to know which corrections are valid and which suggestions to follow. It is a good cross-check to use after you’ve done your human proofreading.

If you are not yet proficient enough in English to discern which suggestions are valid, you need to have an accurate English handbook on hand for reference. Here is one I use myself, Writers Inc. I first found it when I was teaching my children at home and I thought it was the best English writing reference I had seen for the secondary level. It is user-friendly and it’s easy  to find what you need. It has a complete proofreader’s guide that answers any questions you have about punctuation, grammar, usage, and mechanics. In addition to that it tells you how to do any kind of writing project you may encounter as a student with model writing examples. It is not only useful for students, but also for writers who need a quick reference. For example, it has several pages of homonyms and easily confused words explained so that it will be easy to tell if you were using the correct word or whether you should take Grammarly’s suggestion to change it to another word. It also explains how to fix the most common sentence errors. I love having this book on hand.

The way you write a sentence makes all the difference in what it means. Be sure you say what you mean. Proofread what you write. Use aids such as a writing handbook or a program like Grammarly. Making one mistake with a comma could cost a life.


Making Friends and Getting Followers At BlogJob and Other Writing Sites

Making Friends When You Are A Newbie on BlogJob

How to Make Friends in Online Writing Communities
How to Make Friends in Online Writing Communities

Everyone wants to make friends on a new site. That’s the first thing many people think about when they join. Just as in real life, online friends are the relationships that help you succeed in your writing life and on any given site. It would seem, then, that making as many friends as possible as soon as possible is good stategy. You should plan that strategy carefully.

There are many styles of making friends and accepting friend requests. Some people join a site and start sending friend requests to every name they see before they do anything else. I don’t think that’s a good idea. Many people are like me and only accept friend requests when they think  they will want to interact with that potential friend and read his writing. The only way to judge that is to have something to read. When I go to a potential friend’s wall, I want to see more than a row of “X and Y are now friends.” I want to see some activity in groups besides just starting or joining them. I want to see if you have set up a blogging site yet and posted to it so I can sample one of your posts. I want to see if your blogs will be on any subjects I’m interested in.

My Strategy for Making Online Friends in Writing Communities

Face on WallHere’s a stategy I recommend to newbies on any social site where one wants to become connected to others.

  • Send friend requests only to people who already know you from another site until you’ve posted something to read that tells people more about you.
  • Be sure you post your photo before trying to make friends. Otherwise it seems you aren’t serious about being active.
  • Post an update on your wall to introduce yourself. In it you might want to list the sites where you have been and your user names there so that old friends from other sites will recognize you. Mention the interests you will be likely to write about. You might want to mention whether you are young or old and your marital status or information about your family or job. Maybe you could mention a bit about where you live — urban or rural area, big city or small town. This gives potential friends an idea of what they may have in common with you.
  • Join a few existing groups and be active.
  • Send friend requests to people you see posting and commenting in groups and forums if you feel a connection with them. If in doubt, check their walls to see what’s there.  Respond to what they’ve posted on their walls. That gets you noticed in a positive way. Read a blog post they’ve written and comment. That will really get you noticed in a positive way, as long as your comment is thoughtful and not spammy.
  • Check the walls of people who send you friend requests before accepting if you haven’t noticed them being active. See the last dates of their activity. If it’s more than a week ago and they don’t have blogs, they may not be planning to hang around. People often have good reasons for an extended absence of a week or more when they are normally active, but if a person joins, makes a few friends and joins a few groups and doesn’t post much in those groups, chances are that person will drops out soon and the relationship won’t help either of you in the long run.

Maintaining Online Friendships

Share What Friends Write
Share What Friends Write

Once you have started making friends, pay attention to them. Try to visit the walls of at least three active friends a day and read their blog posts and updates. If they are good for a general audience you connect with on social media, share their work. You can see which friends have the most recent activity by looking under the ad under the points history on your wall, profile and invitation pages. Try to visit one or more of your groups every day and try to post or respond to something in them. Visit groups you have started every day to make sure they stay active.

If you do these things, you will soon have more geniune friends in writing communities than you can keep up with. Do the best you can to help others succeed, and they will help you, too. That’s how social networks and writing sites are supposed to work.

Skip to toolbar