Monday Morning

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Last evening, another one died. I think that we have killed about five electric water kettles during this pandemic. No matter the brand or the luxurious model, eventually they all succumb to the rigorous tea drinking routine in our household.

Tea cups here are around 12 to 16oz and when one of us is out of tea, the kettle goes back on.

When we started to get supply chain issues, I stocked up on some items. And I knew that I had bought a spare water cooker, but where was it?

Last evening, I opened every kitchen cabinet including the annoyingly small and unreachable ones above the fridge. I dug into the unfinished basement, scanned every shelf in the pantry, I even checked the linnen closet. No spare water cooker.

Turned out, it is in my husband’s office at work.

I checked online and found great models at Home Depot, Lowes, BB&B, Target, even Kroger. So this morning, I started with Kroger. None in stock. OK, so I drove to the next town. I visited five stores and all were out of water cookers, nothing in stock, and yes, we should have updated our website with the current inventory.

I was a bit steaming and fuming by the time I entered Target. The fumes disappeared rapidly when I saw that they had a few electric kettles left. I check for content, ease of use, and that reduced the selection to two. So I bought both.

Now I am back home, sipping tea, checking email, making notes, and I even had a bite to eat.

All is well with the world again.

How much social media do you need?

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I could not list all the social media (SM) platforms there are today if my life depended on it but I can answer this question: how much social media do I need. Answer: one to interact (Twitter) and one to post images, which I do on Pintrest.

Now you may wonder how I got to that answer. It was trial and error.

When I started my website in 2009, I jumped on all the then available SM platforms after finishing my post. I would share on my feed, in groups, and for a while even participated in ‘comment-for-comment’ groups just to get the cases in more newsfeeds. It was exhausting. I had private and professional accounts, had to keep track of what to post where, remember several sets of passwords, and had to continuously come up with new ways to present these cases.

I wish I had known then what I found out later because not only do these three points below make sense, they produce great results.

Three things to consider

1: How much time do I really have to dedicate to SM?

2: What is the quality of my followers’ list?

3: Where is my site’s audience?

Time to spend on social media

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I will be the first to admit that my scrolling time increased during the pandemic so maybe that isn’t a good measure. But, pre-pandemic I really watched how much time things took and, at what times I didn’t mind spending that time.

It is easy to say that your screen time should be limited however, that might not enable you to reach your goals. The better way to keep screen time in check would be to decide on a goal when you log in.

Uploading a new case or a post does not take much time. WordPress can do this for you if you use Publicize and grant WP access to your social media accounts. You can tailor the headline, add a brief description, and schedule the time and date. Once you set up Publicize posting is easy. What you now need is to get people to read and share your work.

Getting your readership engaged to the point where they actually share your work, is time-consuming. You cannot expect others to read and share your work if you never return those favours. What so I do?

On Mondays, I follow #MondayBlogs on Twitter and that streamlines a lot. I usually try to read four to eight posts and then share those on my feed. I do that in the morning and the afternoon. To make sure I get a good selection of blog posts I search for the hashtag MondayBlogs and select not just the top tweets but also the latest on Twitter. I have also made private lists that do not get shared. This way, reading up on your posts is easier as you are all on one Twitter feed. For the rest of the week, I use the WordPress Reader. I try to read up daily in between writing breaks.

Now, to answer the question how much time this all takes, it really depends on your work output and of course, what is going on in my life. I really cannot guess how much time. But you see, that doesn’t matter as it fulfills my goals: reading and sharing. And I learn a thing or two from all of you. What comes next is more important.

The quality of your followers

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Whichever SM platform you use, unless you have a private account, you will gain followers and not even notice it. I’d like to encourage you to check from time to time who is following you though.

You see, one of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that a big Twitter following amplifies their ability to get shares, likes, or retweets. It doesn’t. Retweets do not come automatically once a follower scans over your post. That retweet can only come from the follower themselves. That’s why the quality of your followers matters so much.

You will find that followers can trickle in one by one or they come in bursts. Some have a big following and some don’t. Which kind of follower is better?

The people who consistently show up in your mentions are the ones to place on a private list. Those are the people reading and sharing your work and you should return the favour with theirs. Now I can hear you wonder ‘what if only two or three people are in my mentions?’

No problem. These two or three people share your work with their followers setting the amplification in motion which gradually expands your reach, getting your work into new people’s feeds and new networks. Two people consistently sharing your work are better than hundreds of followers who never engage.

Your audience

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After you have been online for a while, check where your readers are. You can use WordPress, Google Analytics, StatCounter, etc. Do most of your posts get seen by people through SM? Email subscribers? Which other sites refer to yours?

Most of my website readers come from keyword searches, google snippets, Wikipedia, or other crime website references. Most of my blog readers come from the WordPress reader and #Bloganuary.

Having this information for my website made it easier for me to decide which SM platforms to keep so I can use my screen time to achieve my goals. I deleted all other accounts. It didn’t hurt my readership or SEO ranking. Pintrest is fabulous for sharing images. I just upload and done. I do not engage much there. Twitter is best for starting interactions, conversations, and collaborations.

Knowing that most of my website readers came from keyword searches, I pay close attention to SEO, tags, and the accuracy of my website’s databases. I link back to other people’s work, to newspapers, and magazines. For my personal blog, I follow back other bloggers, try to comment, and read posts of those who comment on mine.

Is this a perfect system? Probably not. There’s always room for improvement but for now, it works.

Promote your blog on Twitter

Many bloggers, especially new ones, are unsure where to place the link to their blog on Twitter. As a result, they keep repeating the same promotional tweets. Repeated self-promotion does not do well with Twitter’s algorithm and that in turn, does not gain you followers or exposure for your blog. So, if you are not sure where to place a link to your blog on Twitter, this post is for you.

On Twitter, you have several options to place a link to your blog.

1: Use you header to your advantage

Your header can be used for great photography but why not combine the photography with a link? Check what I did below. The header is actually the one that I use for this blog. Now pay attention to what I wrote over it: my blog’s name and where to find it.

Art and photography AdS

Take a picture that you like for your header. Then use a simple editor to type your blog’s URL on it. Adjust the colours to make sure that they stand out, write the full link, save the picture, and upload it to Twitter. The recommended dimensions for header images are 1500 x 500 pixels. This is spot number one. Why? People are more inclined to check pictures than reading a bio, no matter how short.

2: Use the website field

In you bio, Twitter has a designated spot for one link so use that for your blog. If you have multiple sites, consider using something like Link Mix. This is spot number two.

3: Use your bio

Twitter gives you 160 characters to write something about yourself and yes, that may include a link, see here. So, proudly state that your are a blogger (use the hashtag #blogger for optimized search results) followed by your site’s link. To save characters, use a link shortener. This is your third spot.

Now onto spot #4.

Twitter has a pinned tweet feature. You write a tweet and pin it to the top of your feed, see here how. It remains there until you replace it. You can use this to promote your latest book or, to add information for which there was no space in your bio. Check the plus sign in the lower right corner, it means you can add another tweet to the original. This is spot #4 to promote your blog.

What you should not do?

Do not immediately send every new follower a direct message (DM) with your links, promotional materials, and worse, requests that they follow you on other social media platforms. DMs are seen as private territory. Most Twitter users have DMs turned off meaning only people they follow can contact them that way. But even then, DMs are not welcome. Why? Abuse and harassment. So, ask someone if it is ok to DM.

I hope that this information helps you to promote your blog on Twitter!

Dutch

Photograph AdS

Today, #bloganuary asked for my favourite pictures. As they are of people I love, I am not posting them to protect their privacy. So, here is a picture of a Dutch mill I took.

New and Improved

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Getting out of your comfort zone means something else to everyone so I expect that the third writing prompt for #Bloganuary will produce a wide variety of posts and opinions.

To some it might mean doing something that they never thought possible and for others, it could be discovering that change is actually not as scary as they always imagined it to be.

In the beginning of the pandemic, when we were in lockdown mode, entertaining yourself was key. So, I tried to open new doors.

I asked for book recommendations on Twitter. Someone recommended ‘The Moon is a Balloon’ by David Niven. Some of his memories, are hilarious. I also read a book on unsolved cases where every case was told in the form of a poem. That was a first and an original one. Another new form of art and words is the manga series from Moriarty, the Patriot. I have not finished the entire series yet but am excited to do so.

Another new thing for me was watching a K-pop concert. Not live, alas, because it was really good, but a stream. It was Wings from BTS and I was pleasantly surprised with the various kinds of music that they played. I had only seen them on television as guests at a few late night shows and there, they sang the same song. Watching the concert, I discovered a much more varied repertoire. So, I now have several of their albums on my playlists.

Last, a new challenge for me will be a change in my planning system. For 2022, I will not use my standard combo of a Traveler’s Notebook and a Leuchtturm calendar. This was my usual for a long time and a change from my many years of using Filofax and Franklin Covey. Yes, I am a paper dinosaur. I am going to use the Circa disc system for my 2022 calendar and the Traveler’s notebook will serve as my blogging content calendar. We will see how well this goes.

Bloganuary 2022

WordPress is starting Bloganuary in January 2022. I just posted how I miss certain elements in personal blogging and here it is. To be fair, they announced this December 20 but I had not seen it.

Click here to be taken to the site where Bloganuary 2022 is explained. When you click that you join, you receive an email. That email has the link to the community. When you get there, scroll down in the left margin to see who else is around, pick up your participation badge, and start reading.

The main feed is like the traditional WP Reader with all blogger participants contributing. There’s already a lively discussion taking place and best of all, WordPress is responding to bloggers’ questions.

So, sign up and get excited to start January 2022 with a blogging bang!