Blogging Tools

BLOGGING

‘The goal of education is to replace an empty mind with an open one’

Blogging is an art, there are no absolutes. These are some tools not to limit you, but to get you started on this adventure. REMEMBER, YOU ultimately define the game!

INTRODUCTION

Let’s say blogging is like fishing.

YOU are the fisher man (Woman, Babe, lady, Guy….)

Your Fishing Rod today will be WORDPRESS.

 Your Bait is the CONTENT of your blog.

The Fish is your AUDIENCE.

 

THE FISHERMAN

(YOU)

…I Always wanted to be somebody, But now I realize I should have been more specific..

–Lilly Tomlin

Some important questions you may want to ask before you write a single post on your blog are;

Who are you?

What are you passionate about?

What gets you?

What breaks you?

What’s your NICHE?

You cannot sustain what you aren’t passionate about.

In a single sentence, BLOG YOUR PASSION

 

THE BAIT

(CONTENT)

…He that LEADS AND HAS NO FOLLOWERS IS SIMPLY TAKING A WALK…

Translate Your Passion into ATTRACTIVE TARGETED CONTENT

Ensure your content is Simple, Specific & Sexy.

You may want to ask yourself;

Can a 7th Grader Understand?

What question am I answering?

Is it attractive to look at?

There are tools to actually help you answer these questions effectively:

BUZZ SUMO

No need to re-invent the wheel. Look for your competitors and do a creative rip off! Get ideas of what’s already out there, refine and write it better. It’s called INNOVATION

BUZZ SUMO lists blogs/articles related to yours. It can be your idea hub. Use it to find what kind of articles and information people are googling for. Use it to sharpen your idea.

CANVA

Give me pictures! Not a thousand ways. Humans are visual beings! Capitalize on that with canva. Canva is the Amateurs Photoshop. An Online Design Tool that makes you look like a pro. Sometimes for Free!

PIXABAY

PIXABAY gives you a supply of Stock Images for free! By the way, using Google pictures without permission is a criminal offence so you may want to go legal.

FISHING ROD

(WORDPRESS-SELF HOSTED)

Its not how heavy the burden is, but how you carry it that matters

To get your blog started, wordpress is a popular platform you can use. There is a free version of it on wordpress.com but we would love to focus on helping you install a ‘self-hosted’ paid version. Free may be attractive but is quite limiting! So to get your blog up and running, here are some quick steps:

 BUY A DOMAIN NAME

Go to a website called godaddy.com & navigate to the name search tab provided. Type in what you would love you dot com to be called & if it’s available, you will be guided to how you can purchase it.

GET HOSTING

After getting a host name, you also need to purchase what is called Hosting. Which is basically a place where all your blog files will be kept. Navigate to the hosting button on Godaddy and you will be guided from there.

WORDPRESS SETUP

Once your domain name and hosting is setup, you are now ready to set up your wordpress account. Login to your account area on Godaddy and you will notice a wordpress setup option. The advantage is that Godaddy has a Setup Wizard that does the setup for you. Follow those instructions and your wordpress will be ready to go. On the wordpress dashboard you will notice a number of easy to follow options to customize your blog. It has a very easy to use interface to update your blog.

THE FISH

(YOUR AUDIENCE)

Writing a blog without an audience in mind is like writing a love letter and addressing it: TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

Once your blog is set and ready, always remember that your audience is the reason you actually write. So ensure to keep them updated, get their details and keep looking out for more. In other words; Follow, Capture, Engage

SLACK SOCIAL or HOOT SUITE

Most of your audience is probably using social media.

With Sprout Social, you can Schedule social media Posts even a month in advance. Monitor how your posts are faring from one dashboard.

 

MAIL CHIMP

You want to be a keeper. There may be so many fish in the sea but once you make your catch, don’t let the fish go!
Keep a subscriber base and build it with Mail Chimp! It even allows you to send automated mail in Bulk!

 

Hope these tools give you a good kick-start! Have fun!!

 

Minds are like parachutes, they only function when open…

-Thomas Dewar

The Editing Process

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BOOK EDITING

BY NATASHA CHITIMBE

I remember the day I was thrown in, against my will, into the deep and amazing ocean of editing. My close friend had no idea that he was introducing me to a world that I would eventually fall in love with. That was over five years ago and I have gone on to edit more than 20 books. Now before you go all open mouthed and eyes widened on me, this was mostly job on training. I don’t therefore brag to be the best editor there is, (yet!) I am simply a lover of words, proper sentence structure and well written work, so as an editor I make sure that I do my best to get a writer’s work ‘shelf’ ready.

I have compiled, below, a few things that will help you understand more about what this editing is all about. These include some of my mostly asked questions asked by clients I have worked with, my personal hacks and what I have learnt over the years.

  1. WHAT IS BOOK EDITING?

Book editing is simply the final process in getting a manuscript shelf ready. It involves cutting out, eliminating jargon, cleaning up, restructuring sentences, and making it bearable, clear and easy to read and understand.

 

  1. WHY DO YOU NEED AN EDITOR?

Well, because every writer needs an extra pair of eyes to look through their work. Also, because people will notice the mistakes, wrong grammar and those annoying running sentences, wrong spellings, unnecessary spaces and everything else that can be spotted.

Every writer needs an editor for these two reasons:

  • CREDIBILITY: unless you have a name that will sell your book regardless of it being full of errors, a well edited book will earn you credibility.
  • PROFESSIONALISM: for your work to go places you need it polished and bearable to read. It shows that you are a serious person.

These two elements combined say: here is my work, I had it edited because I am a professional, I care about my work, I can back up my facts because they were double checked .

 

  1. THE ROLE OF AN EDITOR IN YOUR MANUSCRIPT

An editor does not exist to re write your work, but to simply polish it up and make it ready for the public. An editor looks at your work, cover to cover. He/she is responsible for every spelling, word, sentence structure, flow of content, double checking facts such as historical dates, scriptures, quotes,  political and religious…etc.

 

  1. WHEN TO ENGAGE AN EDITOR
  • THE RELATIONSHIP: YOU AND YOUR EDITOR

I have learnt to communicate with my clients every time I start to work on their manuscript. This helps me to get a clear understanding of their vision and message. Therefore, communicate with your editor about your book.(That is if they don’t do it first)

When to engage an editor depends on two things:

  • Genre: different genres demand attention differently. A fiction work, like a novel, can have the editor on board at the start, chapter by chapter, however, non-fiction can be sent after work is completely done or half way done. Know your genre.
  • The Editor: some editors love to work from the very start, chapter by chapter. Others can start editing the book before its complete while others, like my-self, prefer complete manuscript. Know your editor.

 

  1. HOW TO PICK YOUR EDITOR
  • YOUR EDITOR MUST BE WELL READ. Pick someone well read, with a clear understanding and passion about your particular genre. A Novella editor may not do justice to a financial or political piece of work, unless otherwise. A financial editor may not be as passionate or be on their A game when editing a book of short stories and poems.
  • YOUR EDITOR MUST HAVE A TRACK RECORD. They must be able to back up their claim with work done or credible recommender.
  • WHEN IN DOUBT PICK ANOTHER EDITOR. It’s a free country, and at the end of the day it’s your work that goes out there, therefore if you’re not happy with your editor by all means change them.

 

  1. AN EDITORS CHECKLIST:
  • GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION. Is this written English or spoken English? Is this the correct spelling?
  • JARGON: can a simpler word be used? Can we simply use ‘confusion’ instead of ‘brouhaha’?
  • SENTENCE STRUCTURE. Some sentences run too long and can be cut. Sentences must be flow well.
  • WRITERS IDEAL THOUGHT VS ACTUAL FLOW OF THOUGHT. Is what the writer communicating what he intends to communicate? Is there a digression?
  • FLOW OF CONTENT. Is content flowing well?
  • RESTRUCTURING OF CONTENT. Are there repetitions? Does chapter one work well as Chapter 3? Etc.
  • DOUBLE CHECKING FACTS AND STATEMENTS. Can the writer get arrested for this statement? Is it a mere opinion or not? Is he quoting someone, is it an original thought? Are the Bible verses correct? Is this the actual Dr. King speech? Facts and statements must be checked.

 

  1. MYTHS ABOUT EDITORS
  • EDITORS HAVE THE MIDAS TOUCH. Editors do not have the magic touch. They work with what you give them. If you put in 30% effort into your work, your editor will work with that 30%.
  • EDITORS WILL DESTROY YOUR WORK. Editors will not destroy your work but will help you make it shelf ready.
  • ANYONE CAN EDIT. Not everyone can edit your work, thus, avoid giving anyone close to you who is just as excited about your work as you are, they will be bias and won’t do a good job, give it to a professional who you can pay.

 

  1. TIPS TO SELF EDITING

ALTHOUGH NOT ADVISED HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO EDIT YOUR OWN WORK

  • READ YOUR WORK ALOUD. Do this a lot till your work reads well.
  • BE WELL READ. Make sure that you have read a lot of books over the years to spot a few glitches in your work.
  • PAY ATTENTION: make sure that you’re constantly attentive to how your work is flowing.
  • GO THROUGH YOUR WORK OVER AND OVER AGAIN. This will help you see things you might have missed.
  • SLEEP OVER IT. Give yourself a few hours of rest before you look at your manuscript, as this will help you look at your work with a fresh pair of eyes.

 

 

There you go. A few things I have learnt while on my editing journey. I wish you all the best in all your writing   endeavors.

How Will You Communicate It? A Question Of Style

How Will You Communicate It?

A Question Of Style.

This has to do with approach. Is it going to be in story form or just something direct on how to go about something?

My recent style has been a combination; sharing life principles using fictitious settings; characters, places etc. I like this style because people generally enjoy reading stories yet it still gives me the opportunity to put my message across. Fighting To The Finish is a great example of that style. So is Picking A Fight.

Structure

If there is a sequence to what you want to write? Make a list of the topics (chapters) and how they will flow. My approach in writing is that as long as you know the gist of each chapter, you don’t have to finish a chapter completely before starting the next one. You can actually leave it hanging and add content to the one you are ready to write on.

Start writing: At some point, you must construct a sentence.

Example: “I could count the number of people in the room on my fingers; a glance to the right, and another to the left was all I needed, to figure out how many were in attendance. Lloyd; author of GRIND; a now New York Times best-selling author had been a part of that small gathering. And so was Martha; our current head of state. With hindsight, I can confidently say that the numbers that day were not a true reflection of the greatness that was sandwiched between two sets of two walls.”

When you are done writing:

  • Get some feedback from others to help you refine the ideas
  • Get your work edited once you are satisfied that you have accomplished your purpose in writing:
  • You can edit it yourself (HIGHLY NOT RECOMMENDED)

NEXT: Building An Audience

DAY TWO: ESTABLISHING YOUR PROCESS

ESTABLISHING YOUR PROCESS

“Focus and subject yourself to ‘the process’. Results are incidental.” 

“Water the seed, and the plant will emerge.”

I hope you found yesterday’s challenge as useful as I did. Today, I would like us to take things to the next level. Building on the opening statement; “Focus and subject yourself to ‘the process’. Results are incidental.” I want to highlight the importance of process. Notice that I say we need to focus on the process… results are incidental. Let me illustrate it this way. When the maize seed is subjected to the right process, you are guaranteed of getting cobs at the end. Therefore, without the right process, you can never get the results. Who we become is much more important than what we achieve.

A lot of times we get caught up in the excitement of simply stating what we choose to be. With the choices we make of becoming something specific, we must appreciate that that will come at a cost and our willingness to do what the majority are unwilling to do is what truly sets us apart. You see, mediocrity is as common as gravel. But you are not mediocre, You Are Exceptional…you are rare and that is why you took this challenge.

Some of you graciously shared your goals in yesterday’s challenge which are quite inspiring. Building the process that will lead you there is the next major step. The question that we are essentially asking today is; what will it take to become the kind of person that you said you want to become? This is the question that allows you to establish the process that you need to subject yourself to so that you get the results you want.

Here is the thing we must settle; it is possible to become what you say you want to become. That is no matter to argue over; it’s a given. It’s possible “to be a great husband and father”; which is the desire of one of the contributors. It’s possible to pioneer a mindset change in Zambia. And yes it is possible to grow into a fashion designer. So what can you do on a daily basis to become the person of your choosing? For instance, I am constantly reading a good book. This helps me develop my writing skills.

 

Let me ask that you list 3 people who inspire you in a particular area of interest; one in which you want to grow to be like them.

  1. As a writer and speaker: ANDY ANDREWS
  2. As a husband and father: WALKER SCHURZ
  3. As a leader: JOHN C. MAXWELL

KINDLY DO THIS IN YOUR JOURNAL.

Make a list of three (3) people who inspire you in the areas you listed in yesterday’s challenge. If you don’t know of any, search for someone whose life is inspiring in that area.  Having listed who inspires you; what materials of theirs do you feed upon? Remember, armed with your pen and your journal; make that list. Here are my examples:

ASPIRATIONS PEOPLE WHO INSPIRE ME RESOURCES THAT HELP ME GROW
1 As a writer and speaker Andy Andrews Books, articles, podcasts, videos
2 As a husband and father Walker Schurz Teachings, audio cd’s
3 As a leader John C. Maxwell Books, blogs…

 

Other things that I have personally discovered are an important part of the processes that help us become the person of our choosing;

  1. The company we keep: You must be deliberate about the kind of people that are influencing your thinking. Find people that are operating at a higher level than you and build relationships with them. If you spend most time with people who are content with business as usual; who desire no growth, you will level down soon enough and become like them. So find yourself some friends that are bent on doing great things. I have often said that we become as smart or as stupid as the people we spend most time with. At some point, we either rise or fall to the level of those with whom we spend most of our time.

 

  1. The information you consume: With access to so much information, you can deliberately set yourself up to search for knowledge that will help you function effectively. Structure your life in such a way that you will make time to read, listen to audios, watch videos that build you in the area of your choosing.

 

What is it that you can do daily that will make you become that person you have decided to become?

Block off some time in your day to learn and grow into that man or woman. I highly recommend that you do that in the early hours of your day’s start when you are fresh.

As is our custom; jot down your answers to the following: you can replace the aspirations with your own as I picked these as mere examples.

  • For you that wants to be a great father and husband; who do you/can know that is like that? How can you learn from them?
  • For the fashion designer; who do you look up to in that field? What is it that they do that you should do to become as good?
  • And the pioneer of mindset change in Zambia… who do you know that is effectively transforming mindsets and how can you learn from them?

These questions will help you build your process. Here is what your journal should look like at the end of this;

  1. Names of people who inspire you: 1 in each area you listed. Identify someone who already is what you are aspiring to be.
  2. Materials you will read, listen to and watch to gather knowledge in those areas. If you could read three books in your area of interest; one each month, what would they be? Make a list.

If you can, get their picture or a picture of anything that inspires you in a particular area and frame it nicely if you can then place it somewhere where you can see it consistently. This will keep you inspired.

For every area you listed in yesterday’s challenge, identify someone that you can learn from. Let them be your guide and teacher through there materials. If they don’t have anything they have produced, learn how they became who they are and feed on what they feed on.

Here is our challenge: list three objects that inspire you: it could be a picture of that man/woman you want to be like. Print it out or cut it out of a magazine and “stick” it where you can see it frequently. Bring it in your line of sight. Remember, little adjustments can have tremendous effects. Establish your process. Mine includes all the things I have been highlighting; reading, watching, listening e.t.c

In the comments section, kindly highlight what your process of becoming the person of your choosing includes: This will inspire us to learn from you as well. Look out for Day 3.

NEXT:DAY THREE: TAKING ACTION