This is a great visual reminder of the components of a WordPress Blog Theme.
I’m not sure what it is about writing that is so relaxing and enjoyable. It may be that expressing one’s thoughts is a mental release of some kind, or that your thoughts and words have more greater meaning when written. No matter what the reason, writing is therapeutic for me. However, there are times when the tasks at hand or the world around it too chaotic to make writing enjoyable.
I recall, that while in school, I hated almost all writing assignments except for those "creative writing" tasks where I could express whatever I wanted. Now, as a blogger and author I find that the technical side of writing has overcome creativity at some level.
I write for several blogs and I’ve recently been asked to write for a few others. My one stipulation is that I be able to write when I want to and not be put on deadlines. I’ve written for other folks in the past, both blogs and magazines and find that articles I write while on a deadline were flat and not as epic as those that I wrote because it was a compelling issue or passion at the moment.
Here area few tips to consider while writing for your blog, newsletter or magazine.
Carry An Idea Book. I carry my iPad and a Moleskine notebook around almost all the time. I LOVE my iPad and use it for almost everything, but there are times when actually writing it down in a notebook is just a good way to let the creative juices flow without needing to remember keystrokes, shortcuts or which applications to use. I start most of my posts in the Moleskine notebook and then transcribe them to the computer later. I also have pages with just one line or one thought that creates a good starting point for future articles.
Treat Everything Like A Draft. I’m not a particularly gifted in the area of grammar, so for many of the places that I write, I drive the Editor nuts. I’ve gotten much better over the years in re-reading my writing, but not till I’m done. I find that stopping and re-reading in the middle makes me lose my thought process and have to start over. I get too caught up in the red/green lines underscoring my mistakes. I hate red/green underscoring. I try to turn those features off and simply do a check at the end. However you MUST re-read and check your article before posting or submitting. Even then, I’m going to missing things. At many levels finding our own faults is difficult.
Write When You Can Concentrate. Early mornings are the best time for me to let my mind flow into a post. Everyone is different, but there is something about the freshness of one’s mind after waking up from a good nights sleep that seems to make it easier. I also try to do this before the family has awaken. I feel compelled to acknowledge and greet my kids as they wake up and don’t want to be "shuushing" them so that I can concentrate. If I find that there is too much going on, I’ll simply stop where I am and make a few bullet points of the thoughts I want to express when I get back to writing.
Enjoy it! I have a few favorite writers and I can tell after a short period of time when the writer was enthused about their topic or when they are writing just to create blog fodder or get a news story out. I enjoy reading the things the author enjoyed writing and many times wish that if they weren’t interested in their topic that they just wouldn’t have written it at all.
Be Not Afraid. After several years of writing, I’ve found that you’ll almost never write something that someone, somewhere won’t be offended by. No matter how simple the statement, someone will dislike it. Get over it. You’re not going to make everyone happy all the time. That doesn’t mean that I would intentionally go out of my way to offend people. I know that the more offensive or scandalous the article, the more comments or conversation will occur, but getting a lot of negative comments is probably not why most of us write. And who wants to build a tribe of negative people? At the same time, express yourself and don’t be afraid of what others "might" say.
Have The Right Tools. I’ve recently found a great tool that helps block out the variety of other things going on around me so that I can just freely write. This (free) tool is called Ommwriter. It’s incredibly simply. It creates a background that hides every other distraction on your computer desktop. It plays this Zen like tune to help you focus on writing and fairly appealing tones for the keystroke sound. It’s a clean and simply interface that let’s you type without annoying red or green lines screaming that you’ve made a grammar or spelling mistake.
For Bloggers, I recommend Windows Live Writer (also free). It helps with formatting and creating a good presentation for your blog posts. This way you don’t need to worry about much "coding" or aesthetics. I often write the article in Ommwriter and then copy it to Windows Live Writer for formatting.
Develop As You Go Along. I frequently teach classes on blogging and one of the major obstacles for many new bloggers is that they want to do it all right, right off the bat. Sorry, I don’t believe that happens. I think it’s essential to learn as you go. You need to see what works for you and what doesn’t. Knowing what others are doing is good to see what resonates with you, but isn’t necessarily what I would recommend you emulate. Just because someone else is popular that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right tone or pattern for you. They may be popular because they appeal to a certain crowd. Their crowd may not be a crowd that you appeal to. We each have our own voice and will establish our own following.
Be A Tad Eclectic. I know that most of the articles and posts I write are for a specific genre of readers, but anyone who has been following this blog knows that I carry a main real estate theme, but then sprinkle some politics, technology, faith and lifestyle posts to keep it interesting. That’s mainly because it’s what is on my mind at the time that I’m writing and it gives the reader an idea of who I am outside of the technical posts. Hopefully you’re following this blog because of something you’ve connected with at some point. One of the things I like about blogging is that it’s mine – it’s my freedom to express myself without limitations.
Ask For Advice. Lastly, don’t be afraid to save something to draft and ask someone who you trust to give you feedback. Then thank them and consider their feedback. I rarely make all the recommended changes to my articles because I don’t want it to lose my voice – grammar errors and all.
Hopefully this has encouraged you or helped you in some way. Many people have been willing to share their tricks or tips along the way and I’m thankful for those who take the time to help me evolve.
One of the best tools out there for agents who want to do quick blog posts is Windows Live Writer. Now, I’m very much a Mac user, but I’ll admit that I haven’t found a Mac tool quite as good for desktop blogging as WLW. You can download it for free from Microsoft.com.
Here’s a brief tutorial of the publishing tool:
I love analytics. Knowing what activity is going on in the site reveals what I can do better to serve the readers. Google has made that a bit easier. In-Page Google Analytics has been released and here’s an introduction to the tool
WordPress for Real Estate Beginners
I’m happy to see more and more Realtors using WordPress for their blogs and some even for their static webpages. Over the next few months I’ll be putting together video tutorials and outlines to help those agents who are getting started. This post is just a few tools to get together after you’ve installed the blog and gotten your basics started.
Whereas many components of WordPress and Blogging is free, there are some worthwhile tools that do have associated fees. The (affiliate) widgets below are worth exploration. You’ll see more on those in the future.
The following free plugins are great tools to add to your blog. Generally, it’s easiest to go to the Plugins page and do a search for these plugins and then add them. However, some of these plugins need to be downloaded in .zip and then uploaded via a FTP client. FileZilla is a GREAT free FTP client that works very well with WordPress.
- Wibiya Toolbar is a fantastic tool that adds a footer toolbar on your blog that allows you to add personalized messages for your visitors, chat with you, link to all your other social media sites. Additionally it will allow you to translate your site into different languages and allow your readers to search your site for past posts.
- WordPress Mobile Pack is a complete plugin to make your blog more readable and easier to navigate on a mobile phone. With so much emphasis on mobile computing this is a must have for your blog.
- WordPress Database Backup is just what is sounds like. This handy plugin will allow you to automatically backup your wordpress blog and send the backup to an email address. I chose to create a free gmail email that I only check when I need to restore my site or make sure the emails were being received in a timely manner.
- SexyBookmarks is one of the coolest post sharing tools I’ve seen. This highly modifiable tool allows you to add icons at the bottom of the posts and pages, allowing your users to share your material with their friends on a myriad of social sharing sites including Twitter, Facebook and more!
- Live Comment Preview plugin allows your user to see how their formatted comment will look on the post after they hit submit.
- Google Analyticator is a MUST have for your blog. Each Blogger should have a Google.com/analytics account to keep track of activities and SEO on your blog. The Google Analyticator plugin makes it easy to setup an account and tie it to the blog. It also posts stats and things on your WordPress Dashboard to easily see who’s visiting your page, how long they are hanging around, etc…
- FD Feedburner Plugin makes creating and maintaining an RSS Feed through www.Feedburner.com much easier. The default RSS feed on your blog will allow people to subscribe, but doesn’t track the number of subscribers or allow email subscriptions. Feedburner.com (owned by Google) is handy tool to do just that. One word of caution. Feedburner has a habit of giving fluctuating numbers. So if it looks like you’ve lost a bunch of subscribers, just wait 24 hours and check again.
- fbLikeButton plugin adds a Facebook “Like” button on each post, which will allow people to share your post on their Facebook page.
- Edit Comments XT allows users a limited amount of time to edit their comments after postings. More than once I’ve commented on a blog and then re-read my post and wished that I had worded or omitted something. My feeling is folks are more likely to comment if they feel they can have a second chance to really say what they want.
Happy Blogging! If you have some favorite tools, please share them in the comments section!