Helen and Teacher

Helen and Teacher
The Story of my Life

Monday, September 17, 2012

From Pro Blogger

A good writing prompt for memoir: 1. Where were you September 11, 2001? 2. Describe your favorite childhood routine? Who was there? What day of the week was it? How many were there? What did you do? When did it take place? 3. What was your first Halloween like? Remember to use details that evoke all five senses. Feel free to post or email them to me for comments, suggestions.
Below: Useful tips and Apps for writers; enjoy! 8 Non-writing Apps for Writers Posted: 16 Sep 2012 01:07 PM PDT This guest post is by Ben Ellis of www.b3n3llis.com. A lot of “app talk” in the world of writing revolves around the main applications used to compose your piece of writing, such as Scrivener, iA Writer, and my weapon of choice, MOApps’ Write, plus a whole load of others too. I use a few additional apps to help me research and record things when I’m out and my notebook or laptop are at home. These assistant apps are ones you can fire up on your phone or tablet when a moment of inspiration hits you or you need to double-check something. Now you don’t need to worry about always remembering a pen and paper … just keep your battery charged. Dictionary & Thesaurus My poor spelling of words longer than five letters demands I use this app on a very regular basis. It’s easy to use, very well designed and the Thesaurus is great too. Although I only use it to find words that have slipped my memory—it’s no good filling your MS with a myriad of grandiloquent words you, your peers, or characters would never use in normal everyday life. This app’s free with ads and paid without. Rhyme Source The basic design means it’s not the most attractive app on your device, but it is one of the easiest to use. For someone who doesn’t write poetry I use this surprsingly often. It comes at a small cost. Dropbox Everyone should have a backup in the Cloud. This is the Big Daddy of the services available out there, but there are others. The main, fundamental point is: back up your stuff. Also, handy if you’re out and about and you want to review or add to a document of yours—you can access it and make an amendment to the live document from anywhere at anytime. Free for a basic account. Nebulous Now, you could use Mac’s native Notes app to record your story ideas, but that would be boring, right? So check out Nebulous. It’s especially built for writers, coders, and others to record ideas. I only use it to note down ideas but it’s better than Notes, allowing a better filing system, plus it’s integrated with Dropbox so once you enter an idea, it automatically creates a backup in the cloud via your Dropbox account. Free and paid versions are available. Discover I’m glad I started writing during the Age of Wikipedia because I can’t imagine it any other way! This app gives you an intuitive way to navigate Wikipedia along with some added features such as a search history and related articles. It’s an effective and enjoyable research tool. Free but you’ll have to switch to the US store to get it (if you’re not already there). MacFreedom and TV Guide TV, along with the internet, is probably the worst enemy of a writer’s productivity. Vegging in front of a reality show or scrolling aimlessly through Twitter or an exe’s Facebook profile doesn’t get the next great novel of a generation written! MacFreedom (for Mac and PC) blocks all internet activity on a laptop or desktop for a set amount of time, whilst the TV Guide app lets you see what’s on TV before you actually switch it on. MacFreedom is only $10 and the TV Guide is free. Your writing time is precious, protect it! The National Geographic HD Atlas Yes, you could use Google Maps or Google Earth, but for a small cost you could immerse yourself into a beautifully rendered HD atlas and let your imagination travel the seven seas! Baby Names Gives you ideas and inspiration for names and the meanings and origins behind them. Anyone seeing you use it may have some questions for you, especially your other half. Free. You can probably achieve the same results with most of these apps by just using a web browser on your phone, but where’s the fun in that?! Also, if you really like an app then go ahead and pay for the full version to encourage the developer to spend time on updating and improving it for you. Do you use any of these apps? Or others we should know about? Share them in the comments. Ben Ellis has completed his second novel, ‘Broken Branches’ a dystopian tale of controlled procreation, and is currently looking for an agent or publisher. You can find him online at http://www.b3n3llis.com and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/b3n3llis. Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger 8 Non-writing Apps for Writers How Playboy Can Help Your Blog Posted: 16 Sep 2012 07:07 AM PDT This guest post is by Greg Narayan of http://www.dearblogger.org/. My roommate always gets Playboy. He puts the new mag right by the silverware drawer in the kitchen, and it usually sits there wide open. We share a relatively small apartment in Manhattan’s financial district. I see the darn thing every day when I walk in the front door. Yesterday, I decided to open it up. I mean, as I said, it’s usually open, and open to some ridiculous page. Slightly enticing. I don’t think I need to explain myself too much here, or make excuses for my decision to open the mag. I’m a guy after all. Sidenote: I don’t support Playboy or think it is a useful or productive way of spending time. What I saw as I flipped through back to front (bad habit) was not what I had expected. The mag was filled with a series of articles that basically sold the lifestyle of an ambitious, successful man. A man who had wealth, style, worldly tastes, and yes, women on his arms. This man wasn’t one person. As my fingers flipped through the glossy pages I saw Justin Timberlake, Ray Liotta, Ryan Gosling, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Guys I envy. Now, I’ve been researching blog marketing a lot lately, and trying to relate my content directly to my specific audience. It’s worthwhile research—you can write the best article ever on ache treatment but if your reader doesn’t suffer from ache then it’s all for naught. Marketing: basic stuff I had messed up in my first two years of blogging. But this magazine was telling me something. When I read content, I sort of focus more on how the writer is doing things, what their mindset is, than on the actual content. Here’s what I learned in my 15 minutes with Playboy. Give em’ what they want You’ve definitely read posts on selling to your readers, posts on getting your readers to do things, and countless others on blog marketing. You’re reading ProBlogger after all, so you’re clearly ambitious and looking to improve your blog. But I don’t think you’re totally using what you learn. Not yet, at least. My roommate’s mag contained the following things (aside from naked pictures): delicious food pics, 4th of July party pics, stories of Brazilian models, stories of English models, naughty comic strips, and ads on the following things: watches, red wine, vodka, sports cars, sex enhancing drugs, and beer. What a goldmine of male-enticing junk. I had always thought of Playboy as a joker’s mag, something put together in a sleazy way to appeal to people I viewed as mainly lazy and ugly. But this magazine was crafted by geniuses, who knew me and at least part of the subset of things I find interesting. Sorry if this is a “duh” for you—it wasn’t for me. How this can help your blog Can you see where I’m going? Okay good. Open up your blog, or click on one of the 12 tabs it’s already open on. I want you to be brutal and judgemental. What features on your blog do you readers really want? Want is it that keeps them coming back? Maybe it’s your posts (should be) or a cool picture series, or videos. Whatever it is, double it. Find a way to make it twice as prominent. Ways to blow up content: ■Mention it a few times in other posts. ■Reference it in your sidebar. ■Talk about the actual action of you making that content. This builds up your authority on the topic. Now strip down the nonsense on your blog. A pretty Facebook and Twitter section you think looks just peachy? Get that out of here! It’s not what people want. How about that ad section in your header? Do your users like looking at that? Get rid of it! Maybe a search bar you spent hours coding into your header? If it’s not helping your readers or actively keeping them coming back, toss it, bud. This is a routine I go through once a month, and I’m amazed at how much stuff I can delete to make my good content, and my best features, more prominent. Sure, you have to delete. Pressing that Delete button is satisfying, though. The images make a big difference Playboy show images, and collages, that just work. They depict things you thought you knew about in new ways. You know when you open up a Playboy that you’re going to see some stunning images, that’s a given. And you do. It’s simple enough, really, but that’s easy reinforcement. Can you imagine how many subscribers Playboy would lose if it just cut images by say 50%? They understand their users’ expectations and meet them. Then they take it the next step, by intriguing you. By showing you what lies out there and what you could be. How do they do this? Through bios of people like Brad Pitt. Through photos of Hugh Heffner when he was younger making lavish quotes and ridiculous money. They are selling a lifestyle, and you want it. Seriously, the longer the Playboy mag stays open, the more sucked in you become. You start believing you could have that lifestyle, and thinking about parts of your life, maybe your fitness for example, that you need to improve on. When I finally closed the mag, I had to rip it away from myself as if there was magnetism at work. How this can help you blog I do not mean start posting pictures of girls in your blog posts. Brosome, BroBible, and all those other obnoxious sites that once had cool content already sold out and did this. They’ll get some quick traffic but never really go as far as they could have. What I do mean is you have to start selecting blog post images that intrigue your readers. Use Photodropper and pick out beautiful pics to illustrate your point. You’d be amazing how much stunning images help retain your readers and slash bounce rates. People are lazy and like looking at pictures (you already know this). Then, use some easy reinforcement techniques. Think up three things your readers probably want before they find your blog, and present those three things in interesting, but easy-to-find ways. You want a user to read through your blog and nod their head, mouthing “yes” and “come on!” Not “wtf?” Compound previous success Playboy constantly talks about itself and brags. “Check out the pics from our 4th of July bash.” “See the coolest features from the past 50 years of Playboy.” “Get a chance to ride the Playboy limousine when you subscribe.” It’s ridiculously self-indulgent and I wouldn’t expect a blog to do that. Or would I? After seeing just a couple pictures showing how awesome Playboy‘s 4th of July party was, just a little part of me wants to be Playboy. I want to attend that thing too, and I deserve it. This is that topic of lifestyle selling again. Playboy is dangling things in front of readers’ faces—things that they likely will never, ever touch. But the service Playboy is offering is to make those things seem tangible—making that limousine seem within reach. That’s why you shell out $6.99 for an individual mag and even risk some dirty looks in the checkout line. How this can help your blog You’ve definitely had successes as a blogger and you’ve definitely had failures. But, are you talking about your success? Are you writing about it, or at least mentioning it so that your readers know about it? You should start doing so if you’re not. A hidden aspect of blogging you’ll realize after doing it for a while is that it’s equally important to write about your prowess as it is to provide quality information. If you don’t write about yourself, how are readers supposed to know you’re a reliable source of info? I don’t mean brag openly, people will smell that a mile away and you can really only pull that off if you’re someone like Tucker Max. I do mean highlight your acheivements. Do it like Glen Allsop does on his About me page. If you don’t exactly know how to write about yourself in a way that readers will enjoy, here are a few tips: ■Do it at the start of your post. ■Be funny with it, and a bit self-deprecating. ■Admit a mistake, then follow it up with a success story. You need to write about yourself more. Don’t expect readers, or fans, or even the people you actually see on a daily basis, to understand or know about your blogging successes. They don’t. Tell them. It’s okay to be naughty Playboy does things we know aren’t allowed. That’s obviously what gets people. But the way they do it is so darn bold. There’s such a sense of entitlement around Hugh Heffner and Playboy, as if they’re enjoying freedoms that belong to them and are being taken away from us. Whatever naughty and ridiculous things Playboy does, they do it like a boss. It’s like when my roommate steals my cheddar cheese then leaves the bag wide open, dead center of the fridge. He’s getting his filling and showing me too. Now, Playboy is an example of excessiveness. That lifestyle can’t exactly be replicated. We simply don’t have the resources. We also have jobs we have to go to, and normal responsibilities. Life isn’t one huge party. But again, we can imagine. How this can help your blog Think of ten things you would not think of doing on your blog. Write them down. Good. Now eliminate the five most dangerous things on there. I want you to think about doing the five things left on your list. Here’s what my list contains: ■Posting an inflated subscriber count to entice subscribers. ■Writing a quote someone famous said about my blog to look more popular. ■Exaggerating my blog’s income in a post. ■Telling readers they’ll get a life-changing ebook for subscribing. ■Saying I have post coming up on ProBlogger! These things won’t kill readers, will they? I’m not going to do them, because they’re naughty. Or am I? You’d be amazed how many far, far along bloggers have done these things in efforts to get more subscribers. And they’ve done them successfully. It’s sorta like dressing for the job you want, not the job you have. You’re just taking any edge you can because you want to succeed. There is nothing wrong with craving success. Do you think the first nude pictures Playboy posted were A-okay with everyone? Absolutely not: they got more criticism than George Bush. But doing things in a slightly more bossy, authoritative way, and claiming whats yours, are a few ways to replicate a bit of Playboy‘s success. That’s all, mates and, err, females mates. I hope I’ve inspired you, and have sucked some positivity out of what really is a crummy magazine. Sorry, Playboy. Greg Narayan is the founder of DearBlogger.org . He just finished an eBook on the importance of reducing Bounce Rate which you can check out. He resides in Manhattan’s Financial District. Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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