Writing

Does Your Audience Really Matter?

Yes and no. When thinking of creating a living off your content whether it be books, newspaper articles, or social media; your audience is key. You have to make people happy so they will consume more and more. Make them want to use their hard-earned money to support you. But, if you are making content only for fun, then do whatever makes you happy without worrying about what people think.

But if you are the former kind of creator, then here are my tips on what you need to be concentrating on in order to drive up your exposure and growth.

Tip #1:

Be Present.

If you are an indie author, you are relying on social media to market yourself because without it- no one will know who you are. But in order to grow followers, you need to be present. I am learning this tip as well and doing my best to remain consistent.

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Tip #2:

Know Who Your Target Audience Is.

This is important when writing any type of content. You don’t want to write about programming computers while marketing on social sites more targeted towards teenage audiences, granted you might get a few sales, but not as much as you would get on a business site or online education site.

Tip #3:

Monitor Your Own Comments And Reactions To Hate Or Negative Feedback.

If you blow up on someone commenting about your content or giving your book a negative review, people will screenshot it and spread it to their friends. Those friends then have potential to spread it to their friends and so on and so forth. Not good. There is also great potential for your brand in such moments by replying with grace and politeness. People will find your more appealing if you don’t throw punches at your “haters”. So think before you click that “reply” button!

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Tip #4:

Focus Your Media Posts.

It’s fine to have other channels or other profiles on the same social sites, but you have to realize that people will want your presence on a certain account to be consistent. If people don’t know what to expect, or when to expect it, they will find it difficult to follow you because they will want a certain type of content from you.

Tip #5:

Recognize Your Audience As Your Tribe.

These are the people who will become a family to you. Replying and remaining present with them not only feels genuine, but it feels relatable. You will seem less like a business scheme and more like a friend to people who genuinely want to buy your stuff and support you. Getting no response from you either through a IM, public post, or just a simple like will make your audience feel ignored and unimportant. In the end people become less engaged and a little more wary of your brand seeing as you being strictly business and less of a person who genuinely cares about them- instead it will feel like you care more about their wallet.

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Tip #6:

Create Value For Others.

If people are going to find you and follow you be sure that they get something back for it. Sure your personality is a HUGE bonus, but they will not feel compelled to keep consuming your work if they come up short. Just keep in mind that no one owes you anything. They don’t owe you their attention. You have to earn it by being helpful to them like a mentor or trusted friend.

Don’t you find yourself drawn to people who add to your life whether if they are a good listener or an advice giver? Exactly.

So far, those are my tips on how to be more of a leader in social media. Thank you so much for reading, guys. Take care, and let me know what other tips you think are important. Also, did these tips help you? Let me know in the comments!

Life

Disillusionment After Uni: Moving Forward

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Well, what can I say after a title like that, huh? Well first let me start by saying that this is in no way a negative sort of post, it is a self-recording of what I have been through since graduating college.

I have taught myself a lot since my education has fallen into my own hands. When attending college, I didn’t seek out much guidance because I was often told to take pricier classes, or more classes than what I needed. One time I was placed in a math far above my level, I’m not so good in the mathematic area, but ever since then I never sought out any guidance and took only what I needed. This meant I only worked in a library job for 2 years for fun, with no real intention on being a librarian.

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What have I learned?

Well, I guess I have learned that not planning what my next move might have made the transition from student to working adult a little more tedious. Now I only have vague credentials that are “all over the place” like most hiring jobs tell me. I come from a very small town in Ohio (in the United States for anyone reading who is unfamiliar with the states), this is a place where I see poverty every day. People struggle to make ends meet and are “stuck” in place by the questionable economy.

When I graduated, I started applying to every place I could. I sent my resume to blogging sites, magazines, and even libraries. But no one was hiring a fresh and possibly inexperienced grad.

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When I got my hundredth (or quite close to my hundredth) rejection letter, I wanted to give up. I would throw myself onto my bed and stare at the ceiling- I knew I’ve hit a roadblock.

What now? What now? What now?

I would repeat those words as I paced, unemployed for two months and running out of savings. I then caved and applied to any opening I saw online, jobs high schoolers usually had. That was when I got a job at a movie theater.

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Now I don’t want to be a pessimist and say that the world was awful for reducing me, a college grad, into such a position as a part-time cashier at a small theater in a dying mall. It was the opposite. I went into myself for the time, watching the world as an observer. I didn’t want to think about the direction my life would take next.

So now here’s the hard part- I got an idea. What if I teach myself what they would teach me in school for a lot less and find a job that would give me a chance? Well, I started to pay for courses online (making sure they were accredited) while I started to reapply for jobs like a mad woman.

That was when I got a phone call. One private business called up my house and was asking to see me for an interview. My heart nearly flew out when I heard her say “for the photography assistant position”. Holy crap!

I had taken two years of Photoshop, film, and media training in a career center during my high school years. Nothing to do with my college degree. I jumped on the opportunity and went to my interview with high hopes.

What I came to was blessing in disguise.

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I didn’t want to get out of my car. It was a very warm May morning, but I wanted to just sit in my car and stare at the building before me. I couldn’t believe my one big breakthrough was in a dilapidated old house right beside a run-down bar. I set out an alert on my phone, knowing I’ve seen movies that ended badly after these situations before going in.

“No one really walks in the door when the see the place,” said one manager as we sat down for the interview. I told them my experience with photography and editing, and how I liked to create beautiful videos and pictures in my free time. Next thing I knew, I got a phone in the morning. I was hired!

Now I’m not saying it was the best gig, but it was an amazing experience to travel on the road and see new things and places. The girl I was assistant to was the sweetest person I could have been matched with. This job gave me confidence in myself and made me think ‘if I could find this job, I could find any job if I give it a chance’.

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That job didn’t last more than two months, the business went belly up and I was once again only working part-time at the theater. I knew I had to put my degree to good use one way or another and what better way than being a substitute teacher? I applied and got the job as fast as I could, traveling from school to school to teach new kids every day… I hated it.

I was desperate for money and I had two jobs that were not what I wanted to do. That was when my friend told me about the full-time position I am currently at now. It’s not what I had wanted, but seeing how far I’ve come and all the adventures I’ve already had, I know I won’t be lost for too long. After everything I went through this last year I found that my degree isn’t everything and it won’t give me the world. My determination and open mindedness got me every job I’ve had so far. They aren’t in my field of study, but they are helping me get to where I want to be.

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I am here to encourage anyone, degree or not, to keep your mind open and enjoy where you are because just one year out of college I found a huge group of friends, traveled for miles around as a photographer, met many different people, seen many strange places as a substitute teacher (while getting tips on a possible way to go if I wanted to pursue education), and found a job that gave me my own office (which oddly has been a dream of mine).

I can’t wait to see where this new year will take me! But I know I don’t have to stay in one place for too long if I don’t want to.

Life

You Are Never Too Old to Start a New Adventure!

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The Hobbit was an inspirational book to me in school for many reasons. Later in college it was nice to recall that Bilbo, a hobbit in his fifties, started his exciting adventure at a later age than what is typical in the popular opinion that only the young can under go journeys that allow us to grow as people. Inspired, I felt the world was open to many possibilities to all of us at any age and all walks of life. The older you get, the more people expect you to have “figured it out”, but life is not at all that simple and never goes entirely as planned. I am here to tell you that it is okay!

 

College acceptance of students of any age should be enough of an example of teaching people willing to learn at any age, and that new beginnings is not exclusive to those younger than thirty. You don’t have to figure out what life style or career will bring your true fulfillment by twenty-six. You can get your toes wet in fields you are interested in and try new things all you want. If you find it doesn’t meld with you- I implore you to keep looking for that sense of happiness and fulfillment. I have heard from so many sources that you must learn to just grin and bear the life of employment and it is typical to hate your job. But why must that be?

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It is possible to look forward to go to work every day and be happy. We hear about those who found the jobs that make them very excited. If you find that your interest and happiness is not in your current field, I would suggest starting at the bottom rung of the ladder of a new career you have interest in. Learn the trade and see if it is a right fit.

Life is full of new experiences. Try new things, dive in, and enjoy the journey we are endlessly trying to figure out.

Life

Minimum Wage Jobs: Why You Need At Least One On Your Resume

adult-business-commerce-375889 (1).jpgHappy Friday! This post I am going to be discussing the minimum wage job. So, you are fresh out high school/ college and currently looking for employment? Finding an immediate income is never a bad decision. A job is a job and it is something to be proud of. Employment gives you a sense of accomplishment and money.

I used to think I was above having a minimum wage job, that I deserved more than that slice of life. But I feel working a minimum job for a year or a life time is worth the journey. In order to be an effective worker anywhere you must humble yourself. Be proud that you have a job. Many people wish they were in your shoes.

Another part of minimum wage work is knowing that you don’t have to stay there. You can up and leave within whatever two weeks you choose. Finding a new job, no matter the wage, will bring new experiences and the ability to meet people.

The third thing is knowing that money doesn’t mean success. There are countless people who are miserable though they have more money than they can ever spend in their lives! Success is measured in your own happiness. If you are among people who understand you and make you happy, then you have accomplished what so many want to have.

My own experience with minimum wage jobs had gotten me out of my shell and released me into the world with greater understanding. I was made to communicate with so many people on a daily basis, increasing my working and problem-solving skills.

I wish everyone could take some time to work part-time at a restaurant, gas station, or any other job that deals with people from all walks of life. It is an experience of invaluable knowledge.

Please don’t tear yourself down only because of your paycheck. Look at the value in your temporary position and the memories an office job could never give you. And remember to always enjoy the ride.

 

 

Writing

Writing Habits: How To Make Writing A Daily Routine

We all dream of the perfect routines that will meet our writing deadlines, but do we know how to go about that? Here are tips on how to at least start a daily writing routine and reach your goals.

First, you can’t change your daily routine dramatically. If you are a late riser, eat cereal for breakfast and lunch, and never go to the gym; you can’t change suddenly start waking up early, cooking every meal, and going to the gym once a day. That would be too much of a change. It would be like being very hot and suddenly jumping into a pool full of ice cold water, your body would go into shock.

I would suggest setting one goal for yourself like waking up early every day. Once the habit is engrained into your routine, you can change something else in your lifestyle. So, writing should be the same. If you don’t write every day, setting a big 5000 words a day goal might not be advisable. Instead, I suggest writing 500-2000 words. Be sure to meet your goal every day for a week before increasing your goal.

Second, have a habit trigger. If you write with jazz music in the background and turn on jazz music every day, it can make your mind ready to write and create when you hear jazz. This habit will trigger the writing part of your mind and get you into the writing mood.

Third is to disconnect. This means to turn off the internet, put away the phone, and all other distractions that might stop you from writing your story. This does not mean you can’t look up things having to do with your writing (i.e. Google). Turn off notifications from all social media and exit out of all other apps on your phone.

Treat writing like a habit and less like a hobby. You don’t need to do it to survive, but you need to do it to better yourself as a writer and spend more time writing. If you fail to meet your goals, then try again. You can never stop trying to reach your goals.

Enjoy the journey we all love and keep writing!

Life

Schedule and Keep Moving Towards Your Goals!

Life is a busy hustle of work and sleep, but the true mystery is how can we find a balance between work and our goals while getting enough sleep. Time is the most valuable commodity a person can have no matter your background or financial status. Recognizing when you are wasting time instead of using it is the first step towards meeting your long-term goals.

The huge factor in reaching goals and working hard is a balance with work and pleasure. If you don’t take time to pause and enjoy life and enjoy the present, it is hard to continue without relaxation. So, take a day trip, go to the movies, find a part in your day you can relax and enjoy the simpler things like a good novel (I shoot for the evening hours after working all day).

In setting goals, many bloggers recommend following the SMART method. In doing this, you will track and conquer the small steps along the way of meeting your goals.

S stands for Specific. What is it you want to accomplish? Write out your plan to achieve it in great detail, setting small obstacles to overcome and climb up to your goal.

M stands for Meaning. A goal is nothing without passion or genuine reason behind why we are pursuing it. Understanding why you want something and being able to remind yourself about such a desire will keep you motivated to get it.

A stands for Achieve. This step is full of conquering and taking over the world by storm. As I stated above, setting small goals and over taking them will stoke the flames to your fire. Realistic goals you can achieve on a short term basis will bring you closer to the finish with each milestone you reach.

R stands for Relevant. Is the goal beneficial to you as an individual? If the goal is something you are not passionate about you will want to quit more often than not. So, before setting any goal ask yourself if it’s what you want and would benefit you and your happiness in the long run. You can’t live a life contradictory to your own nature for too long.

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Find an effective time management routine that sets the most important goals first. This will allow you to tackle the most grueling task of your goals when you’re the most motivated. Accomplishing the most urgent goals will make your feel ready to take on other goals. People have the most drive in the morning, so it might be best to conquer your daily lofty goals first thing- perhaps after a little coffee.

It is also a good idea to track how you are spending your time. Keep a log in how much time you spend watching the news, on social media, or maybe even napping throughout the day. Realizing where your time goes is the first step in knowing what to cut back or limit so they can’t keep you from achieving your set goals.

If you must be on YouTube at least once every day, schedule your time around your goals, maybe during a break and time the sessions. Breaks from work are recommended, but be careful to not spend too much time on them. Schedule breaks or other social media into time segments and don’t break from it!

Another practice I’ve done every day since childhood was making a to do list every night before bed. When you wake up, you will have an idea on where your day is going instead of wasting time in thinking about all you do that day.

Time management is crucial in daily success which can build up into a life filled with success and pay off! Keep striving for your lofty dreams one step at a time and don’t forget to enjoy the little things as you achieve your dreams! Good luck!

Writing

The Writer’s Post: Character Timelines and the Helicopter Writer

Do you remember mom checking up on you while you’re out and about with friends? Well it is time put on your mom jeans because that is the attitude you need to gain for your characters in every book. I’m not talking about telling your characters to be back home before the streetlights come on- I mean you have to know the whereabouts of each character in your story the entire time. It would be a shame to forget that one of your “children” exists.

 

Even if you don’t realize it at first, because you’re focused on building a story, your readers will notice that so-and-so is not present anymore. You don’t want Billy to vanish off the face of the earth with no rhyme or reason. Making a note in your timeline that Billy is grounded in his bedroom for the next five chapters works, that way we know that Billy didn’t just up and vanish and that way you will remember to bring him back later on in the book if needed.

 

My timelines go chapter by chapter according to the characters in each book (example at the end of the article). Character timelines can create a more solid understanding in character motives throughout the story. If Shelly’s determined to get a job, you can have her pop up in and out of the story at cafes, depressed about her bad luck in finding employment. Additional knowledge about what Shelley has going on in her life can prompt a scene or dialogue, or create the illusion that other characters in the story have lives outside of the plot. It’s a neat trick to use and makes your world believable. It takes from only a few minutes to a few hours to plan and it is a changeable element!

 

Using my character timelines, I got to figure out the character development of each character by the time my main character runs into them again. Having all characters revolve around our main character is not only limiting your world, but it is unrealistic. When you go about the world, people are on their own personal story, so treat it like that. Make the outline for each character’s own book in your story.

 

Timeline

Writing

The Writer’s Post: “Famous Author’s Writing Process,” (Part I)

beverage-blue-breakfast-414551Many of us try to mimic the authors who inspire us in style, story ideas, and characters. But do we know their entire process of creating the worlds and stories we love? Though I encourage you to find your own routine and process of creating your work, here are classic authors and their own methods in creating literature.

 

  • MARK TWAIN

Twain had a study on his farm, on in which no one could enter and had to blow a horn to summon him from his stupor for dinner. Using “brickbats” to weigh down papers, he opened his study up in summer or on windy days to cool off. He would write all day then read his writings of that day to his family to which he recieved their praise.

 

  • C.S. LEWIS

His routine was the most ideal form of writing routines we could hope for. He would have breakfast at 8am and was at his writing desk by 9. He would write until his lunch at 1. After a lunch, he would walk for 2 hours before returning to his desk to read and write until 7:00pm and getting to bed no later than 11. Sounds like an excellent way to spend the weekend!

 

  • JANE AUSTEN

Austen would write beside the light of a window on a small walnut table armed with ink and a pen. She woke every morning before her family to play piano before making breakfast for everyone. Talk about a productive morning! Austen would follow this up and write all day until dinner and read that day’s writing aloud to her family.

 

  • JAMES JOYCE

After waking up around 10am every morning, Joyce claimed laying on his stomach was beneficial to writing. He also used crayons to see his writing clearly and wore a white suit as a light source to reflect off the paper.

 

  • SCOTT FITZGERALD

The author of The Great Gatsby would rise late around 11am and spend the afternoon prepping for a writing session. This proves you need not be a morning person to achieve a stroke of genius.

 

These techniques are nothing to hold true to if they do not work for you.  Find your own writing schedule that fits into your daily routines, and I mean daily, and keep writing. Writers before us had their own writing methods of bringing about their work into this world while juggling their own personal life, faced with the same mountainous climb to recognition, so what is stopping you?

Keep writing!

Life

“The Dangers of Reading Maps” : Finding Your Unpredictable Path Through Life

depth-of-field-direction-finger-34753 copy.jpgSo we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

            Hello again! After a long break, I’ve gotten back into the blogging business. All right, I am making this blog as a personal/inspirational blog and wish to share my journey through it. Today, I would like to discuss how life is never what you planned it to be even when it seems like a flawless plan.

            Recently, someone I know lost a 30-some year career with no compensation or remorse from the Universe. This was a great shock and made the world out to be so cruel. It proved that when you believe you have everything figured out, life can come and drag you down to uncertainty until you question what your journey and struggles have all been for. Where is the justice? Don’t you deserve reward for putting in your time? I believe there is a purpose to such nasty wake-up calls the Universe sends us occasionally to keep us on our toes, even if its a cruel lesson to teach us.

            The person I am talking about has a new chance to pursue something they like or something that makes them happy. Truthfully they were worn down by their job these recent years and wanted a way out. The Universe then answered. It was still a shock to hear they had lost the future they always believed was inevitably theirs. They sat there stunned after being wrenched away from the path they had planned to follow decades before.

            I cannot help but relate with the same uncertainty. When I was a college student, you expect that the world will take notice and give you a well-paying job because you “deserve it” for getting that degree. That cannot be further from the truth. The world doesn’t care about what I believed I deserved as much as it didn’t care about my friend losing their livelihood. Earn everything in life, do not rely on things being promised to you at the end of the very long path you follow, or it is possible you will be surprised when your world turns upside down and the future you were so sure was within your grasp is wrenched away by an unfeeling higher power.

            Life can be scary with such insecurity. I perceive life now as an endless trail we must follow with so many twists, turns, and bumps as you chart your path. Thick forests on either side of you, hiding you away from other people on their own journeys. You don’t witness every challenge or hurtle they overcome, you may glimpse their successes between the trees, but they must keep moving as should you.

            Some see life as stagnant. They park their car, fixate on the surrounding scenery, unable to glimpse the road that continues beyond the bushes.

            WE must forge on.

            I battle with this fear every day, wondering “what is there for me on the path ahead,” but I know stopping will guarantee I will not grow.

            Though this all may seem rather depressing, keep in mind that life can change in ways we can never predict. 

Writing

The Writer’s Post: Deciding the POV of Your Story

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One of the most crucial things most writer’s over-look is the importance of who tells their story and how. Point of View (or POV) is the voice talking to your audience. Without an effective point of view your book will have just as much personality as a lamppost. For this you have 3 options: First Person, Second Person, and Third Person point of views.

When you begin to plan your point of view, keeping a few things in mind will help point you in the right direction.

Who has the most at stake? Readers want to hear the words of someone who will develop the most during the duration of the story.

Who can best help present the theme of your story? If your theme is death, you might not want to choose a character who doesn’t loose someone close to them.

Where is the most action? Don’t make your readers miss out on a great scene in the book. If your view point character is not invited to a party where the antagonist gets a serious butt-whooping, it will make your reader upset they didn’t get to see all the drama unfold.

Which character has the most entertaining outlook on life amongst the characters that cover all these? Who has the most unique voice or the most entertaining personality to you?  What are you are you going to keep to yourself? What POV will be most effective in doing this?

So, let’s break down these options and what they can do for your story and decide what you want to get across to your reader.

The First Person POV

This is a way to tell your story at an intimate level. Readers get to know your narrator like a friend and can hear their voice as they read because your character is telling them what went down. This has the potential to be entertaining and humorous in allowing your character be themselves and bond with the reader.

You must also decide if the narrator is Reliable or Unreliable. Is the narrator giving us a faithful retelling or do they twist things to tell us only what they want to? The possibilities to make your first person viewpoint character shine are numerous!

The Second Person POV

 If you want to take the road less traveled, pick this one- though it’s not recommended. This post is in second person after all with all my “you” s and “your” s. You’re the character and I am engaging you in the story I am telling about how important points of views are. You are at the center stage, and you are the main character. This viewpoint of self-reflection appears in literary works and short stories most of the time. An entire novel, rare as they are, can have the reader addressed the entire way through, but it is most often down paragraphs or chapters within longer fictional works.

The Third Person POV

There are so many ways on going about this point of view and it doesn’t leave you at a disadvantage when compared to the others.

Free Indirect Speech can present your character’s voice and opinions like you would in First person. Word choice will help develop their feelings and reason. It gives the reader the ability to see through your characters eyes and your world from a distance. Third Person Limited is the best to get your reader to hear and understand one character’s POV the entire story like the first person, minus the “I” and “me”.

Multiple Points of View is used in a few popular books today, think The Song of Ice and Fire series. This is a powerful tool in getting your reader to know your characters, but it is hard to do effectively. I have come across books where each character speaking sounds the same and different viewpoints have no purpose to further the plot. You must always pay attention to who’s speaking and the difference in character voices/tones in their sections. If you don’t know these nitty gritty details, then I recommend you not using it or your reader will become frustrated. It is also helpful to define who is speaking for the possibility that the reader forgets what a certain character’s narration sounds like and they end up in a tangled web of confusion they must unfurl for themselves. It is also helpful to keep the number of point of view characters to a minimum in one book. If we have ten characters were reading from, it can get confusing. Keep it simple. Your reader does not know your characters and it’s easy to make them feel like they’re in a crowded room with ten different people all shouting at once.

So, What Should You Do?

Do what you want! It is your book. You call the shots and you make the big decisions. If you ask yourself what will engage your readers and best tell your story without focusing on originality, then you will make the right choice more often than not. If you finish your manuscript and decide to change it after- that’s okay! Don’t be afraid to explore different options until one feels right. Not all first tries are successful.

Keep Writing. Keep Growing. You Got This!