I was in this habit last year: Every post seemed to just be a sponsored post, or a contest. Yawn *rubs eyes*.
Not that those were bad. It was just what I felt was right back then, what I should have been doing. I would look at other mom bloggers, and they seemed to be blogging about events, products, contests, brand ambassadorships, and whatnot. Hey, I was doing those things too, so I thought, “Well, there: This is what I’ll be writing about.”
The thing is, somewhere down the road (cue Barry Manilow), I started feeling unsettled. I felt like I had ignored all my lessons as a Creative Writing teacher and forgotten everything I knew and loved about writing… because I wasn’t telling stories anymore! The truth is, I was just being lazy and unoriginal. I think maybe I got jaded, too.
If I was true to what I believed about writing, I could have milked the extraordinary out of the ordinary details of my life.
That’s why I committed to be more and write more this year, not just do the “blogging thing.”
Everyday moments are a potential gold mine of stories, just waiting to be told through your writing, whether you write a blog or do the old-school journalling. (I wish I had that plugin where I could Tweet this?! What’s that plugin, please?)
Here are just a few ways I jumpstarted the story-writing again here on my blog, and how you can, too.
Find a writing nugget in everything.
I’m about to write a blog post based on a silly thread resulting in a comment I posted on Facebook about Froot Loops. You know what? If I did this last year, I would have tons more stories to tell, more interesting personal posts for you to read. So I advise this: Use every instance that can be used as inspiration. When you talk to your kids, your friends, your family, or even with your friends on Facebook or wherever it is you dwell on social media: really pay attention. Often it’s in these tiny details and silly moments that you’ll find a nugget to write about for your next blog post.
“Emotion-ize” your story.
You may have heard of the Di Niro Method. It’s Robert De Niro’s signature style of method acting. Basically, Di Niro doesn’t just study lines for a role or research a character. Rather, he employs extreme tactics (such as living in Sicily while he was working on The Godfather II, and working as a taxi driver for The Taxi Cab), so that he could fully live out his role, right down to the core feelings and emotions.
It’s the same with writing a story: How would you “emotion-ize” your recent experiences, so that you can tell a story from your heart? Recall them; describe all the sensations you felt, from the sweetness to the bitterness and everything in between. Think about a time you felt shocked and sad (like recently with these corruption scandals in the government); think about another time you felt happy and alive (such as when your child said something unexpectedly sweet to you, and your heart melted into a puddle). Write down exactly what you felt when those things happened.
Don’t just say, “I felt so good,” when telling a story about the time your kid drew a picture of the cast of Sesame Street — from memory. (That’s a crayon picture by Vito, a couple of months ago. Good effort, right?!)
Personally, when Vito drew this picture and showed it to me, I felt as if I had entered a time warp that took me back to my own preschool days! I felt as if Vito was a reincarnation of me and my long-lost childhood, a time when I relished every moment I could scrawl on the walls with my Crayolas: a mini muralist of sorts, crafting stories out of colorful wax. (See the difference?)
In the same way, take a moment to dig up all those emotions you felt when experienced something recently, something you’d like to write about on your blog: Think of all the emotional and physical sensations that came along with that one act. What was your natural reaction? Did you tear up at something your child said? Did your heart smile or leap from your chest? Did you hear music from your mental dukebox of feel-good melodies? Store these emotions up in a metaphorical bottle in your heart, and pour that bottle out when you sit down to write your next blog post or journal entry.
How do you capture your everyday life in your writing, whether in your blog or journal?
Well, that was an awesome four days at the beach! My family and I are super-charged after a much needed vacation. My husband and I also celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary — woohoo! Yes, we went to Boracay, and it’s as beautiful as people has said it is. It was my first time to go, as it was my son’s. Catching the awesome sunsets each day; playing in the sand; taking cool dips in the water; enjoying fruit shakes while lounging on deck chairs overlooking expansive white sands; food-tripping; and spending time away from the city were just what the three of us needed. I’m happy to report we’re all nicely browned (thank you, SPF +50 protection), and have all gained a few pounds (thank you Two Seasons, Lemon iCafe, Gastoff Ribs, Fish Bar, and several other restos that I’ve lost count of).
Now, I’m looking forward to going back to work, back to blogging. Hope your summer days have been just as sweet!
(For Part 1 of this Twitter Productivity post, click here.)
I am on Twitter often. If I’m not in front of my laptop, I’m tweeting on the go with my phone. Most times, I’m just lurking or perusing. But since I’ve become super busy with my writing job, I’ve had to plan my Twitter use so that I’m productive in all areas: work, social media, and most importantly, in my life as a wife and mom.
Through time, I’ve learned to utilize some Twitter productivity tools that help me manage my tweets more efficiently so I save time and get other things done, too. Let me share you some of the recent productivity lessons I’ve picked up from using Twitter as a blogging mom.
My 5 Tips for Tweeting More Productively (as a Bloggin’ Momma!)
First, a disclaimer: Please take all these tips I’m sharing with you with a grain of salt (preferably kosher–it’s really better for cooking!). I’m no power Twitter user; I’m still navigating through other tools for a better Twitter experience. Even so, I want to share some practices that have made my tweeting more efficient for me as a work-at-home writer, mom, and blogger.
1. I pare down my “following” list religiously.
In the beginning, I followed everyone who piqued my interest: celebrities, entertainment authorities, lifestyle magazines, beauty mavens. I even organized them into lists, just so I could view each stream or category in one train of thought. The unfortunate thing was: It took up too much of my time.
So I started to pare down my “follow” list. Today, I only follow people in my niche whom I can learn from or people whom I know personally. Sure, I keep a handful of local celebrities and relevant Twitter personalities in my list, but not a lot.
I'm brutal about editing my "following" list! (Photo credit: iblggr.com)
Recently, I stopped following some top Pinoy tweeters who didn’t have anything much to offer me in terms of my goals as a parenting and mom blogger. I also “unfollowed” several celebrity accounts, and a handful of unrelated business accounts, like an inactive spa account and some bloggers, too. I still have about 200 on my follow list, but that’s more manageable than the 500 I used to have! I still make it a point to edit my follow lists regularly.
Now, I make sure I follow influential mom bloggers, pro bloggers, family bloggers and community sites, copywriting and advertising gurus, and other writing authorities. By following these accounts, learning how they tweet and how they behave on social media is essential if I want to be as successful as they are.
2. I regularly sort(and re-sort) my “Following” lists.
Using Twitter lists helps you sort out your followers and those you’re following. Tweetdeck is very useful for this purpose: You can separate those you’re following into groups. For example: I’ve sorted my Twitter “Moms” into one group. I’ve sorted my church friends into another, other Filipino bloggers into another group, and so on. Then, whenever I open Tweetdeck, I can choose to only view the tweets of whatever group I select to view. It saves me lots of time backtracking on tweets I’ve missed in real-time.
By sorting your “following” lists, you eliminate the amount of Twitter noise in your feed. For me, that means less distractions, less stuff to retweet and more time to really follow those who will add value to the Twitter experience. When I have time, I do add a few personalities who interest me; I follow people and organizations that really interest me, not just because they are the “it” Tweet-ers to follow. But most of the time, I make it a habit to purge my list and keep it manageable.
3. I tweet regularly…but only when I need to.
I mentioned before that, in my early days on Twitter, my account was rather stagnant. I mostly lurked and followed, but I never tweeted. It wasn’t until I began tweeting regularly and interacting with other like-minded users that I began to see its power as a connectivity tool.
Still, tweeting can be a dangerous time-hog to a Twitter mom such as myself. While chatting and tweeting with my contacts and followers is loads of fun, I know I’ve wasted a lot of time doing it. Now, if ever I do sit in front of my laptop tweeting and exchanging in a seemingly ceaseless badinage with my Twitter pals, it’s because I actually have the time to do so. That means all my work for the day is done, or most of it.
I usually am most active on my blog and social media accounts during the last two to three hours of the day. It’s the time when my baby is asleep and when the whole house is mine. During this time, I write my entries, and I schedule tweets. More on that on the next pointer.
4. I schedule tweets.
A huge time-saver for me and another free tool is Hootsuite. It’s another social media dashboard, and it lets me schedule my tweets–even my Facebook status updates–in advance. If I’m using Hootsuite, I’ll typically load it with scheduled messages the night before I intend for them to be sent out. I usually schedule tweets on my latest blog posts or on interesting sites which may be of interest to my followers.
The great thing about Hootsuite is that I can load my scheduled tweets and then forget about them. I’ll get an email in my Gmail inbox when they’ve been successfully sent out.
My Hootsuite dashboard
You can even upgrade to a paid Hootsuite account to manage a large number of social media accounts. Personally, I need a paid account because I manage other social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and WordPress for myself and for a handful of writing clients. For your personal use, a free account can take care of your Twitter, Facebook fan page, Facebook personal account, and two other network tabs.
Some people might say that it’s not authentic to tweet when you’re not really in front of your laptop or on your phone at that moment. Well, that’s why these tools exist in the first place! I’m all for being up close and personal when it comes to Twitter, but only when I need to be and when I have time. Most of the time, I need to work, so if there are tools which can help me tweet, do my work and attend to my family duties, I will use them to my advantage.
5. I try to streamline my tweets. (Still trying!)
I’ve recently taken on a couple social media clients. In order to prepare for my job with them, I’ve been reading up on how to make tweets more useful for their audience and followers. At the same time, I benefit, too; I get to research on how to better my own tweets for my followers. Yes, all 350 of them (I know, I need to work on tweeting better!). I know my followers expect good information and insights from me. It’s my job to make sure I keep them happy with me, and engage them with that certain “Dainty Mom” flavor that I hope to be known for.
In the past few months, I’ve been tweeting quotes on motherhood, posting links to articles of interest, and of course, promoting my blog. I am still learning to cull from the best content out there, and it can get a little frustrating at times.
Thankfully, social search sites like Topsy have been extremely helpful in streamlining what I tweet about. With Topsy, I can look at all the tweets I’ve sent out and track those that have been retweeted the most or have brought me the most attention. This lets me know what my audience is looking out for and what compels them to share about me.
Search results on Topsy for "Dainty_Mom"
Other applications like Google Alerts are also helpful in keeping up with trends that interest me. I have alerts for content with the terms “work at home writer,” “work at home mom,” “mommy blogging,” etc. I get notices in my inbox once a day for blogs, sites, videos and news that have to do with these topics of interest. In addition to this, I began keeping a Notepad file on my desktop of the things I want to tweet about. I’m still trying to manage this new system though. Hopefully it will help me tweet more intentionally and relevantly.
Right now, I want to focus on getting my followers to actually like me (Haha). Oh, I know there are friends out there and genuine social media contacts who will graciously share my tweets, retweet and make recommendations. But that’s the easy part. Right now, I want to be able to engage followers so that they’ll actually follow me just because they want to. That’s why I’m working on the quality of my tweets; I want to give my followers a reason to follow me, so I need to make sure my tweets fulfill my online presence’s purpose, which is to offer “practical inspiration for work-at-home moms.” Whether I’m fulfilling this or not depends greatly on how I’m using Twitter–and all my other social networks, too. Still, I will keep on learning how to tweet more relevantly; my online life depends on it!
Are you a working mom on Twitter? Do follow me, if you are! (I’m “Dainty_Mom”)
I’ve been tweeting for a little over a year now. Prior to that, my Twitter account was rather stagnant. It wasn’t until I started connecting with other blogging moms via Twitter that I really saw how powerful a tool it was. But while Twitter has much potential, it can also make one, such as myself, a “master at the art of time-suckage” (Yes; I quote Winona Ryder, Reality Bites, 1994). I can spend literally hours reading Tweets, retweeting, tweeting links of interest, only to wonder “Hey, where’d those two hours run off to?”
Photo credit: socialmoms.net
The key to really using Twitter–particularly as a work-at-home mom and homemaker like myself–is to know how to Twitter more productively. While I’ve experienced Twitter as powerful tool, it can be a productivity-killer, especially when I come across some pretty useless, time-sucking threads that lure me into a funnel of slack. As a newbie blogging mom who needs the Internet to make a living, the only way I can reap benefits from a tool like Twitter is if I analyze why I’m using it in the first place.
My New Twitter Goals
Since Twitter is primarily a networking tool, my personal goal for using Twitter is two-fold: to connect with like-minded individuals, and to interact with them based on our common interests. As an outlet (which is what it is for me at certain times of the week!), I tweet to express myself in a unique way. When I do so, it’s usually addressed to the void (like, for example, a rant to some telecom company’s Twitter account, which shall remain nameless.)
But I have a renewed objective regarding Twitter. I want to use it more productively, specifically to build my brand (that is, “Dainty Mom” and everything about this blog), build trust among my followers, and connect with other bloggers, specifically those in the mom and parenting niche. Sometimes I add a #daintymom hashtag after a tweet, just so I can build my relevance and also secure my followers’ trust in me.
So there. I’m going through a Twitter learning spree. In the second part of this entry, I’ll be sharing some tips I’ve learned regarding twitter productivity for mom bloggers such as myself. I hope you’ll stick around to read that!
Blogs and bloggers alike are like mushrooms: They can sprout up anywhere on the face of the Earth. What does that mean for wee little bloggers like me who have only really (and seriously) blogged in just a little over a year? That I’m just a drop in the bucket.
Who’d want to read what I have to write anyway, right? Having been a writer for most of my life, I can say that I know a good writer when I read one. I don’t claim to be the best writer out there, but hey, I’m pretty good.
This got me thinking one day during a blogging class I attended (which was a prize package including my new online home and domain): What kind of a blogger am I? Why am I blogging? What makes people want to read what I have to say?
After pondering about this topic for a few days and perusing a number of blogs on my blogroll (and those not), I came up with the following types of bloggers. They are:
1. The events & lifestyle maven. There are a lot of these on the Philippine blogosphere. They’re darlings of PR firms and marketing companies, and they’re often invited to media launches, press conferences, special events and the like. Some of them have risen to blogger fame because of their high-visibility at events. I’ve been to a handful of events for bloggers, and only those that really interested me and fit into my blog’s objectives. I tried a few event-related posts myself, but I only really blogged about events that piqued my interest. I don’t think I am an event blogger, simply because I’m not driven by events alone when it comes to my blogging.
2. The “show me the money” blogger. Honestly, making money from the Internet is a good thing. Still, I don’t particularly enjoy reading blogs that are all about the money and have nothing much to offer for content. I’m talking about blogs that are replete with all sorts of income-generating tools like affiliate links, paid posts, sponsored entries, et al. Raven Tools calls them “sluts of the Internet!” (LOL). These bloggers will write about anything, as long as there’s a price tag.
Personally, I have a few income-generating tools on my blog: residual income ads from Nuffnang and AdSense, and two affiliate links to products I’ve actually used. These are on my sidebar. Other than that, the only money I really make from my blog are from the jobs people hire me to do as a freelance writer.
3. The SEO semi-freak. I once came across a blog where every single word on the text seemed to link to another site. Yes, SEO (search engine optimization) is great and is still a great traffic generator since almost everyone finds stuff online through a search engine like Google. What I don’t particularly like are blogs that are mysteriously high up in their Google page rank but are devoid of any interesting content.
Yes, I do try to use SEO on my blog: In fact, if you Google “organic vegetable delivery Manila,” you’ll find that my Daintymom review on Shusaesh Farms (my organic produce supplier) is ranked no. 2! However, “no blog lives on SEO alone,” so I make sure I have content that keeps people interested, not just visiting from a search page result.
4. The online diarist. This is the original blogger cut from the beginnings of web-logging when it debuted during the advent of Web 2.0. These are the bloggers who use their online platform to share about their lives, thoughts and musings, whether through stories, photos or videos. I follow a number of personal blogs, some of which are so successful, they even generate enough income for an entire family to live on.
I would love to be a professional personal blogger one day! However, blogs of this nature take time to generate viewership as they usually grow organically, without any SEO tools, just by word of mouth or through buzz on the blogosphere. Some of my favorites include Dooce, Chuvaness, Topaz Horizon, Sweet Juniper, to name just a few, literally! These blogs are all quite influential. They’ve become very attractive to advertisers simply because they have made a significant online footprint and people want to read whatever they write about!
5. The authority blogger. These are the kings and queens of content! They are recognized for their expertise in their niche, and are extremely credible in their chosen field of interest, whether it be lifestyle, finance, marketing, education, or any topic under the sun. They are champions at creating compelling content that scores high on search engine ratings not purely because of SEO, but for relevance. There many authority bloggers out there, far too many to mention! Personally, I love following Michael Fortin, Darren Rowse (of Problogger), Allison Worthington (of Blissfully Domestic) to really name just a few authority icons!
I haven’t really settled on what kind of blogger I want to be. I think I’m hodgepodge of all five, really: I attend some events (although I’ve only really enjoyed a few); I write about my life, whether it’s a recipe that I came up with or something I’ve learned from my work as a writer. Most times, I blog about inspirational and motivational stuff, such as my post yesterday on being a super mom. Yes, one day, I want to be a top-ranking female blogger. But before that can happen, I have to really build myself up online as a unique type of blogger.
While chatting with friends on Twitter last night, someone mentioned I’m more up the Mighty Girl/Pioneer Woman blog niche. That made me think, especially since I love both these blogs and can only hope to be as influential as they are.
But you know what? Her comment actually compelled me to work towards a goal: to be a helpful, insightful and inspiring mom blogger with my own take on marriage, motherhood and working at home. If I’m going to be anything as a blogger, I want to be someone who does just that! If not, then my blog isn’t anything more than an online depository of random thoughts and musings. That’s fine, but I want something more!
What about you? What kind of blogger do YOU think you are?