Emma Baird picture of a laptop with the words 'back blogging'

Six Years of Blogging

Emma Baird picture of a laptop with the words 'back blogging'Congratulations me. This month marks my six-year blog anniversary. Six years of thinking up topics to write about, sometimes coming up with great ideas but most often opting for the lazy option, something I wrote for another platform.

I don’t have a huge following—just shy of 400—but I get good engagement, especially these days. It’s easy enough to like a blog post. You can do it without reading the article. People taking the time to read and then add their thoughts feels much more flattering.

And because I have such a small following, I don’t get negativity. Most of the comments people post are encouraging. Which is good. I’m your typical writer and my skin is wafer-thin.

My following increases steadily. At the moment, I appear to be getting one sign up a day. I’m a smarter blogger than I was when I first started up and I use some of the dark arts. I put my name into the alt text for the pictures I use. I set featured images and I craft my own excerpt. Liking and commenting on other blogs helps as does the intelligent use of tags.

I’ve got my posts automatically linked to most of my other social media platforms, so they appear on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter as soon as they come out.

The life of a blogger can be great fun. I started my working life in journalism and what former journalist wouldn’t want to be their own publisher and editor?

You also get to read amazing content from others. There are plenty of doozies out there and I often wonder what on earth bloggers are doing to get hundreds of likes and comments for badly written guff. On the whole, though, if you keep your own blog following small, you can afford to follow only the good ‘uns back.

This is a friendly community for the most part. I’m hugely grateful to all the folks who’ve read, liked and commented on my articles over the last six years. Thank YOU.

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High Quality Content in the Blogging World

Most bloggers will have experienced this – out of the blue, you get a sales pitch from some SEO company, telling you your blog is pretty much invisible, so why not employ them to make it not so?

I got one this week, which is sort of reassuring. If I’m getting spammed by such companies, I must have some kind of online presence. The company listed the things that were wrong with the website, which included “doesn’t have high-quality content”.

What counts as high-quality content in SEO/marketing world isn’t the same as what counts for quality in other worlds. It often depends on links, keyword placement, pictures, videos, text length, coding and other things marketers promise inch us up the search rankings.

Y’know, so that when people type in ‘writing services’, or ‘great chick lit’, I’m their number one find…

So, I didn’t take the lack of high-quality content remark too personally. “Nothing to do with my marvellous writing,” I muttered to myself. “You can shove your offer where the sun don’t shine.”

Well, maybe that’s not entirely true. I did fire off an email to the company, pointing out that as sales pitches go, telling someone their content is basically rubbish won’t endear you to them.

I’ve had no reply, which almost disappoints me. I thought sales folks were supposed to have a come-back for every knockback? That could have been their opportunity to point out that because my copy doesn’t mention ‘writing services’ every hundred or so words (proper keyword density, apparently), it counts as keek*.

Anyway, what I also get on a regular basis are sponsored content suggestions. They bemuse me as they are often from companies that produce goods or services totally unrelated to anything I do or write about. I’ve received propositions from menswear and financial services companies, promising we’ll be a good fit for my audience.

Another person offered me a standing desk review, which was sort of relevant seeing as I use one myself. But reviews of desks… I couldn’t inflict that on anyone and sleep at night.

I’m in some media directory somewhere as a blogger/influencer, which is flattering. But not true. Now, if Cadbury’s/Dairy Milk/Freixenet/Reedsy wish to collaborate, I’m entirely open to a 400-word piece that mentions ‘Dairy Milk/Freixenet etc.,’ every hundred words. Free products and services would be welcomed too.

Either or, is fine.

 

 

*For those unfamiliar with this marvellous Scottish word, it means shit.

 

A Week in the Life of a Blogger

This week I have been…

Writing about sewing machines, keeping your dog safe when it’s Bonfire Night, the changes to Facebook and how they affect businesses, inheritance and virtual reality’s impact on the sport of bodybuilding. Such is the varied life of a blogger. And sending out invoices while wondering about the viability of writing for a living*.

Over-estimating children’s appetite for sweeties. The very well-behaved guisers who called at our house only wanted one or two sweets. Or maybe my offerings (see above) were rubbish. Anyway, as they have a use-by date sometime in the 2020s (ahem), they’ll last another few Halloweens.

Reflecting on the genius of the Duffer Brothers. Seriously, is there anyone who doesn’t love Stranger Things? The second series is even better than the first, and I binge watched my way through it this week.

Avoiding Twitter because I was too busy binge-watching Stranger Things to tune in for the Great British Bake Off final, and saved it up for another night instead. Apparently, I needed to avoid Twitter anyway because judge Prue Leith gave the game away 12 hours ahead of the show being aired.

Wishing my great aunt a happy birthday, her 103rd anniversary… Bodes well for my genes, I suppose.

Trying out new recipes. Like most people, I recycle the same old favourites repeatedly. I bought the Sainsbury’s and Good Food magazines for October and tried out the Budget-friendly Pot Roast, Szechwan Chicken Wings, Egg-fried Rice, Steamed Seabass, and Broccoli, Pea and Mint Soup.

Applying for jobs. My conversion rate is about one in ten. I really need to up the number of applications I make (I do ten a week), but I live in fear that one day all ten (or even five) potential clients will come back at once, and need delivery at the same time.

Looking into BookBub as a promotional tool. More promising than Facebook or Amazon ads, apparently, as your audience are purely voracious readers.

Running. I’ve rediscovered a love for pounding the pavements. When you’ve been inside all day, a run in the dark, rainy weather works wonders.

Writing about vampires, friendship and betrayal. Once the paid work is dealt with, I do what I love – creative writing. (And you can read my stories on Wattpad here – https://embed.wattpad.com/follow/SavvyDunn?type=2) One day, one day, perhaps the stars will align, and the creative work will become the paid work, earning me enough money to make a small income. Nothing greedy. If blogging for a living has taught me anything, it’s how to make do with a lot, lot less.

 

 

*Don’t do it, folks!

The Ten Bonuses of Writing for a Living

Writing for a living—glamorous, well-paid, and sort of sexy and bohemian, right? Bohemian regarding the pay, certainly, but here are some of the reasons why I love being a writer…
1. You get to work for yourself, and most of the time your boss is kind, understanding, reasonable and supportive*.
2. You don’t have to go to meetings. (Well, not many of them.) When I lived in the office world, most meetings I went to were like the ones they show on the BBC show, W1A. Here’s a link to a clip for anyone not familiar with this most glorious of satires.
3. Your fingers get a good work-out every day. C’mon. We’re like pianists, our digits moving at double quick time over the keyboard.
4. As a copywriter, you get to find out a little about A LOT. This week, among other things, I dreamt up sales statements for cars (not bad for someone who knows SFA about horsepower, torque and HUD), dug into the importance of living wills, and entered the world of vintage Danish furniture.
5. Writing every day is great practice for what every copywriter really wants—to write novels (my own wee attempt is here). Yes, being forced to think up lots of different ways to make cars sound exciting, and vintage Danish furniture appealing hones those creative skills.
6. You can do it anywhere. So long as you have a connection to the internet, the world’s your oyster. If you want, you can become a trendy digital nomad.
7. Being praised for your work. This might not always happen—and sometimes the opposite occurs—but when someone says they love your stuff, your heart soars.
8. Doing what you love. Every. Single. Day. Hey, even those car statements. And those blogs about cleaning.
9. Reading. You can’t write for a living without doing a LOT of reading. Sometimes, it’s of the dull variety, but it’s always very varied, and I don’t know any writers who don’t also love reading too.
10. The money. That’s my little joke. My bad. Take it from me, kids. You don’t do this job for the moolah.

*You get the odd day when your boss is the BITCH FROM HELL.

The Modern-Day Super Power

And today’s challenge is… I listened to a podcast earlier, where the guest was Tim Ferris known for books such as The Four Hour Body/Working Week and others.

During the podcast, which centred on self-improvement, he quoted someone who’d come up with the line that in today’s world, if you are able to focus on one thing only for two to five hours, it’s the modern-day equivalent of a superpower.

What do you get if you focus solely on one thing for two hours, then? I’m on a mission to find out. When I write, I seldom, if ever, complete any piece of writing without doing something else at the same time.

Mostly, I’m listening to the radio. But I’m also watching the email icon, and if I get a new e-mail, I’ll come out of Word and read it. Then, I might write something and feel the need to look stuff up—whether it’s fact checking or the thesaurus as I seek an alternative to a word I keep using. Or I’ll just look up anything random that pops into my mind.

There’s one piece of work I do every week that I never manage to write without doing something else. I wander off to see if my cat wants attention, or I check on the washing hanging outside. I fold up clothes or change the sheets on my bed. As I don’t find the work inspiring at all, it’s an effort to finish it. It would be much less of an effort if I just concentrated, wrote the whole lot at once and got it over and done with.

Ah, procrastination… thine embodiment is the writer.

The radio? Switch it off. My inbox? Close the mail app. Checking things—highlight them as a reminder to verify or refine after the words have been written. Housework? It will wait.

Here goes…

 

Pic thanks to Topher McCulloch on flickr

 

A Little Flash Fiction Fun At The Expense of David Cameron

After a long absence, I’ve decided to revive this blogging account. Well, it doesn’t really make sense for me not to have my very own personal blog. And I do need to sell books as I’ve discovered I’ve got this allergy to office work (symptoms – unrelieved boredom/borderline suicidal feelings on a Sunday or after returning from holiday and general lethargy most evenings) so I’m trying to find a way of keeping myself out of offices for ever and ever…

So hello there once more. Highheelsandpinkglitter tries to blog mostly about writing (having briefly entered the foray as a wedding blogger ahead of my own nuptials), but is easily distracted by food and skin care. As so many people write and produce much better content on the last two topics, I try to resist that distraction as much as I can.

To start off my new blogging life on highheels, here’s a little fiction effort. I’ve been chortling at Twitter’s response to pig-gate of late (more about that story here), so I thought I’d write a little back story for one of the memes:

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Man* Enough to Make That Call

The phone on his desk seemed to mock him. In his imagination he heard the words, “Are you man enough for this…?”

He shook his head slightly, “Well I’m not, but –”

The voice cut him off. “Pathetic! Excuses, excuses… Just pick up the phone and call him!”

With a sigh, he decided to obey. The inner voice wasn’t always right, but on this occasion its veracity rang clear and true.

He listened as the number rang and a voice confirmed: “David Cameron.”

His mouth dry, he barked into the phone: “It’s Kermit. Do.You.Love.Her? Do you? Do you? DO YOU?”

As you might be able to deduce from the above, one of my other regular projects is flash fiction – writing an original 100-word story once a week, preferably on a Friday just because the alliteration works. If you’d like to see more examples of flash fiction, check out the Friday flash fiction website.

 

 

*A friend disputed the use of “man up” in this story and I do get her point – why do we use the phrase “man up'”to mean bravery and fortitude? I hope you will forgive me as I used the phrase in an ironic way because Kermit’s a frog.

Words, Words, Wonderful Words (and a commendation)

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Amidst the chaos that is my in-box a wee gem surfaced this week, telling me I’d been commended in a short story competition.

The Federation of Writers in Scotland ran a competition some months ago and I entered the flash fiction class. The competition was looking for a 500-word short story, which, as I’m used to 100-word stories through the weekly Friday Flash Fiction challenge I set myself, felt like a NOVEL.

Anyway, I hummed and hah-ed and then entered anyway. I’m sharing the results below and I hope you like it…

 

WORDS, WORDS, WONDERFUL WORDS

Nathan Crutchlow prided himself on his verbosity. Words were his stock in trade after all, so why shouldn’t there be so many of them? Those oh so plentiful words buzzed around in his head and they needed an outlet – they deserved to be written down, lovingly crafted into the sentences, paragraphs and pages he adored creating.

Nathan’s wordiness had stilted his initial progress. His first approaches to agents had met with flat refusals. After a while he had sought out further explanation for their reluctance to consider what he considered his works of art. What could possibly be wrong with his wonderful words?

One of London’s kinder and more patient agents explained eventually.

They’re just too long,” she said. “I read your covering letter where you referenced the length of your manuscript – 200,000 words, for heaven’s sake! The modern-day reader does not want to read a book that long.”

Nathan listened, and then discounted her advice. The modern-day readers of the time (1970s) he felt, should not be patronised by London agents determined to determine their word count for them. Surely, the modern reader was only awaiting words of which only Nathan could conjure up in his own inimitable way? They were eager to be intoxicated by the exuberance of his verbosity, he was sure…

He stuck to his wordy principles. His eventual signing by a more individualistic agent led to publication of a series of fantasy novels. The 900-page books gained a select following and Nathan achieved cult status.

From time to time, he muttered to himself – wondering afresh at his lack of ability to sell millions of novels. There had been talk in the mid-1990s of turning his first book into a film. Hollywood was mentioned and flights to Los Angeles were days away from being booked, but it all came to naught.

Nathan reverted to rejoicing in his small but select following. His fans were the type to seek him out at the smaller book festivals having travelled from Sweden, or the far flung corners of the US.

Once, he overheard one of them discussing his books with a friend. “It took me a year to read y’know, but it was worth it in the end. I feel like I’m an ultra-reader now. Everyone else does 5ks and half-marathons, but I’ve done the Marathon des Sables.”

He thought it was a compliment.

And then in the midst of online research (or procrastination, depending on your view point), he’d stumbled across the notion of flash fiction. He found websites where stories were limited to a mere 500 words. Another 30 minutes later and he had uncovered fiction which took place within 100 words.

What on earth..?

Nathan’s fingers twitched. The words rattling around in his brain slowed to a stop, as the inner editor finally made his appearance.

Nathan picked up the phone and called his agent.

Daryl,” he roared down the phone. “I’ve seen the light! Tell me, do I have a Twitter account?”