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

EXPANDING YOUR INFLUENCE: Building an audience

EXPANDING YOUR INFLUENCE

Building an audience

Remember, even a fool has an audience; so gather the courage to say something?

 

With a world that has been brought together by the internet; your market then cuts across the borders of Zambia. Anyone on the planet can access your content.

If your goal is to one day get published and put your book on the market, then you must get interested in building an audience. How do you get to do that? Here are some tips:

Have a message: Possess a compelling message that has possessed you. What are you known for? It’s important that people have an idea of what you are all about.

Go: Take your message to “them”. Most times we think that just because we have an amazing idea, service or product, then everyone will come to us. Well, have you ever wondered why even great brands still continue to GO to “them”? I don’t mean that you should force your ideas on others.

Speak: Even a fool has an audience. Use the tools that give you a voice. How can you best communicate your message?

Tools:

  • Social media,
  • blogs,
  • vlogs
  • YouTube channel

 

Be consistent: Whichever you pick as a way of sharing your thoughts; be consistent. Michael Hyatt; ex- CEO of Thomas Nelson suggests that consistency is more important than frequency. I agree based on my own experience with our first website. In two years, as simple as I am, we had managed to get close to 300,000 visits to our website. Considering I was merely using Facebook to drive traffic to it, we had gotten quite some good traction. To the point that we would be getting close to 1,000 visits a week. Had we continued on that trend, today would be a different story. Consistency then means that you are always engaging people on your page and leading them to your blog or website for detailed content.

What helps with being consistent?

  • Share what you learn from others on your page and acknowledge them. As long as you believe in what you are sharing from another source.
  • Give your opinion on a matter of interest to you and engage contributors
  • Schedule some of your posts for specific times. For instance, for the next 365 plus days for me, around 9 a.m, you will most likely see a quote by me posted on my page every day (Monday to Friday): I already have enough content for this.

How often should you write?

  • Engage people as often as possible through simple posts. But for something more detailed like a blog; once a week isn’t a bad start. Say every Friday at a particular time. The good thing about blogging is you can write on anything that tickles your fancy really. This makes content generation easier.
  • Remember being consistent is much more important than frequency.

For our website; www.ulendojourney.com, we have structured it in a way that allows us to provide content every day. This is practical for us because I don’t have to provide content for each day alone. So you can devise a plan to invite guest blogging. What helped us with consistency in the past for instance was:

  • Mondays: we talked about money
  • Wednesdays: An article by Dario
  • Thursdays: We profiled someone

 

Why have I focused on the aspect of expanding your influence?

Simply because the marketing of your product starts way before the product is done. THE TRUTH IS; one of the most challenging things is actually this aspect: selling so you must start building that audience way in advance.

  • It takes time so be patient
  • Be persistent
  • Be consistent

For some people, they already have an audience and in essence a market. People who have already established a level of influence with a particular group of people.

 

An example:

I think Pastor Gladys Paswani; founder of set apart International, has to a great extent an audience for her message that she has built over the years. The question would be, if she decided to write a book;

  • Has she harnessed her “grip” on that audience?
  • Does she have a database on the people who keenly follow her?
  • Has she created an online platform she can use to provide mentorship content? These are people she can mentor, not only through physical interaction but using online platforms.

 

What platforms do you have that give you an opportunity to “voice” out your thoughts?

  • Do you have a Facebook page?
  • Do you have a blog?

 

 

 

THE WRITING PROCESS: Define Your ‘What?’

Define your WHAT?

This is the product/service or message that you are offering to others.

Having a general idea of “the message” you want to communicate is critical. The truth is that you won’t get every detail in your head but you must at least at the end of the day know what people will get out of your work when they read it. Start writing with the end in mind.

You can write down some of the things you want to communicate or share.

  • Sentenced To Succeed; my first book was about realising your potential
  • Manifesting Your Destiny was about leaving out that potential
  • Fighting To The Finish is about enduring tough seasons; seeing your dream through
  • Mwanakazi Okongola is about Defining The Essence of true Beauty

When you have figured out your message, it’s much easier to develop the content.

Sometimes I write to answer questions that are important to me; whose answers will help others live more successful lives.

  • I wrote The Game Changer to answer a simple question; “what is the fundamental difference between people who are consistently successful and those who are not?” I could give an answer to that in one sentence but it wouldn’t be effective and so I wrote an entire book around it.
  • Mwanakazi Okongola was inspired by my quest to understand the general underlying desire for women to validate their beauty. Upon that simple idea, was the book birthed.

Having a form of guiding idea will help you build your content.

Example of a guiding idea/question.

Why would anyone, on such a cold Saturday morning, leave the comfort of their house to attend a four (4) hour seminar? Give some short reasons:

  1. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
  2. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
  3. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
  4. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
  5. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

I would probably title this book; if I wrote one; “SITTING ON NEEDLES– enduring discomfort to achieve greatness”

The beauty of asking yourself questions is that they lead you on a search for answers; and it is those answers that you discover that help you build your body of work.

The guiding idea or question will also help you to do some research if you need to. Getting facts from other sources that will add value to your case.

NEXT:How Will You Communicate It? A Question Of Style

THE WRITING PROCESS

Define your why?

Why do you do want to write in the first place? What’s your end game? The answer to that determines your approach and the way you will go about doing things.

  • Is it for money?
  • Perhaps fame
  • Or maybe it’s about impacting society
  • Changing mind-sets
  • Educating others
  • Instructing
  • Improving people’s quality of life
  • To entertain
  • Leisure

My overriding reason is built around the fact that “I help others to DISCOVER, DEVELOP and UTILISE their potential for something SIGNIFICANT. Writing therefore for me is a means to achieve those things. In fact, generally, I am a communicator and that is why I use avenues like radio, television and speaking engagements to achieve my end game; BUILD LEADERS THAT WILL TRANSFORM their spheres of influence.

When your WHY is strong; you will have the resolve to push through the tough seasons.

In the blank space below(You use your journal); write down your reasons; as many as you have:

  1. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
  2. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
  3. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
  4. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

NEXT: Define your ‘what?