Posts tagged ‘blog’

October 18, 2016

Grow your online platform with Bloomtask

Michael T. Sheen, founder of Bloomtask and Dandelion Platform Design

Michael T. Sheen, founder of Bloomtask and Dandelion Platform Design

 

Bloomtask is designed for writers and other professionals to grow their online platform in about twenty minutes a day.

Bloomtask is designed for writers and other professionals to grow their online platform in about twenty minutes a day.

Last year, Michael T. Sheen of Dandelion Platform Design dreamed up a fantastic grassroots way to help his clients build an online platform: Bloomtask.

It started with his clients. Even after he provided some training, many of them weren’t growing their platforms.

“Some of them reached out and did things, but the majority of them would not,” Sheen said. “They said it was overwhelming and they didn’t know where to start.”

Sheen got to work. The result was Bloomtask, a task management center specifically built for growing platforms.unnamed-1

“It’s designed to be done in about twenty minutes a day,” he said. “All of the tasks I’ve created after months and months of research. If you do these things, your platform will grow.”

The task center includes tasks built specifically for Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. Sheen recommends starting with two or three channels. Channels can be added or deleted as needed, and the lists can be customized.

The pre-built task lists include five simple tasks per day for each social media channel. Some tasks are done daily, some weekly, some monthly or longer than that. Updating social media profiles shows up every six months. Tasks like unfollowing people on Twitter show up much more frequently.

If clients finish the daily list and want to keep working, there’s a button to add more tasks. There’s also a place to build personal task lists. This section can branch out beyond the social media task lists to include writing endeavors, editing projects, and other marketing tasks—even taking out the trash, if clients want to go that far.

Sheen designed the program to be friendly for newbies as well as for professionals who are already building their following. There are over a hundred video tutorials on the site. Many of them can be found in Bloomtasks’ Learning Center.

The Learning Center includes videos for newbies, like how to get started on twitter and Facebook, as well as more advanced marketing methods for these channels. Sheen says this will eventually be the Bloomtask blog, where he will share marketing methods he continues to learn and success stories from his clients.

“As we grow, we’ll add more advanced ideas,” he said. “We’ll do webinars and answer questions like how to make your own graphics. As we learn more things, we’ll add them, and we’ll review new channels as they come up.”

Bloomtasks’ Inspiration Center is a place for clients to take notes. Writers can keep their editorial calendar there. Bloggers can list their post ideas and even develop full posts right on the site, leaving them and coming back to them as needed. Sheen said he anticipates the site will eventually allow users to post directly to their blogs and social media sites.

“It’s something that we’ll continually add to,” he said.

In the achievements section, clients can track the number of followers they have in each channel. Sheen envisions adding fun activities like friendly competitions to help clients continue to grow.

Because work should always be rewarding and fun, that’s why, and Sheen believes that. It shows in his enthusiasm for his work on Bloomtask.

“It’s been a total blast,” he said.

Sheen talked to several people before he found and presented his idea to Sam Ouimette, Bloomtask’s programmer and Sheen’s 50/50 partner in the business.

“He loved it. He’s been working on it for about a year now,” Sheen said. “He’s put in hundreds and hundreds of hours.”

Hours which, apparently, have paid off, even during beta testing. One client grew her twitter platform with 40,000 followers in ten months. Sheen said every client he’s worked with on Bloomtask has had similar results.

The company had a soft launch earlier this year. Sheen planned to announce the full launch with an e-mail blast, but watch for it other places, as well. Bloomtask is designed for any professional who wants to grow an online platform.

It’s affordable, too, even for starving artists and writers. The monthly fee is $14.99, but anyone can try out a month for free.

Link here to get started.

Sam Oimette and Michael T. Sheen, founders of Bloomtask

Sam Oimette and Michael T. Sheen, partners with Bloomtask

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November 5, 2014

My #NaNoWriMo progress, #burgersandbooks giveaway and more

Family of the Tri-Rune, by Charles Yallowitz

Family of the Tri-Rune, by Charles Yallowitz

It’s been another busy week, and once again, I’m behind on the blog.

I actually signed up for NaNoWriMo this year–something I’ve wanted to do for about five years now and just never have. So far this week, I’ve written just over 10,000 words. That makes me feel good.

Kathy Robinson, who won the first week of the Burgers and Books giveaway, also won the Burger King gift card. There were very few entrants for this giveaway. I enjoyed the idea of promoting reading parties while promoting indie authors, though, so I may continue to do these once in a while.

I wanted to review Charle’s Yallowitz’s Family of the Tri-Rune on Friday, but the day really got away from me. Here are my top thoughts (and possibly spoilers, so readers, beware):

Where Luke Callindor’s character grew immensely in Allure of the GypsiesNyx’s character grew in Family of the Tri-Rune.  It seemed like she started to come to terms with some changes she needed to make (for the good and safety of all), as well as with who she truly is. There were some remarkable and fun revelations about her origin in this book.

There were more revelations about Selenia Hamilton, too, as well as some of her contemporaries, and I was surprised when someone from Sari’s past showed up. These elements added twists to the plot that gave me lots of A-HA moments. Lots of fun! I also found some compassion for someone I thought was an enemy, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in this character’s future.

Some new champions stepped forward toward the end of this book, which makes me excited to read The Compass Key and start to follow their character arcs, too. While I won’t be running a #burgersandbooks giveaway in November, I hope to find time to read Yallowitz’s most recent book and post my thoughts on it here on this blog.

 

October 19, 2014

A change in my tagline

My well-loved 'Level Up' binder

My well-loved ‘Level Up’ binder

Remember way back when I wrote this post about my semi-secret level-up project?

And then remember when I wrote about journaling my life rather than setting goals?

That’s kind of happening. I am still writing for all I’m worth. I’m also still trying to balance it with volunteer opportunities, running a household, and other great level-up projects that I love.

While I’m still very interested in marketing and plan to continue studying it (and posting about it), it’s begun to take a back seat to other interests. With that in mind, I thought a change in the purpose of this blog was called for.

I recently changed the tag line for my blog from ‘Writing, Marketing and Life’ to ‘Writing, balance and my level-up life.’ I may change it again, depending on how well it fits as I ramble on and on about whatever I want to. It may not always make sense, but it’s always aimed at making me a better person and on bringing as much joy as I can into the lives of everyone I meet. Even electronically.

Meanwhile, week three for the #burgersandbooks giveaway is beginning, and I am celebrating by reading book three in Charles Yallowitz’s Legends of Windemere series. Want to read with me?

 

July 29, 2014

Jacob Holo’s Dragons

Jacob Holo's The Dragons of Jupiter...see his Amazon sales page!

Jacob Holo’s The Dragons of Jupiter…see his Amazon sales page!

About a year ago, I read Jacob Holo’s The Dragons of Jupiter and was more than pleasantly surprised. This is by far one of the best sci-fi books I’ve read in a long time. I’ve been meaning to get back to my blog to review this, and it hasn’t happened, and hasn’t happened…and tonight, that’s going to change.

The battle scenes in The Dragons of Jupiter are very, very well done, although maybe a little bit graphic for my taste. I loved how innovative Holo was with his weaponry, though, and that made it really hard to put down even the most descriptive scenes.

I loved the body makeup the dragons wear when they’re not on duty.

I love how they work as a team.

I love the interactions between the team members, between brothers Ryu and Kaneda, between everyone and the Matriarch.  I tried to pick apart the character development and couldn’t do it. It was just that seamless, and I’ll be studying this book in the future, trying to see how Holo managed to weave his character development into the story so well that I didn’t even notice it was happening.

What a way to make readers care about the story!

Holo has a couple of great web sites, too. Read more about The Dragons of Jupiter at dragonsofjupiter.com (I am now a proud follower), or visit holowriting.com for information on Jacob Holo’s other books and writing activities. He has a lot going on.

Also, his book covers are terrific. See a sneak peak for the book cover of Humanity Machine at holowriting.com. I am looking forward to reading that one, both because of the book cover and because, if Holo always writes like he did in The Dragons of Jupiter, I’ll never be able to set his books asides for things like doing laundry and dishes.

 

June 13, 2014

Grateful for a momentary balance in writing

My writing routine is a bridge to personal balance.

My writing routine is a bridge to personal balance.

One week ago today, my eldest walked across a stage and received her high school diploma.

Since then, I’ve been pleasantly busy with such fun things as backyard barbecues, shopping trips with in-laws and quiet moments pulling weeds in my back yard.

I’ve been surprised to discover I still have time to write. I started and complete a 1,000 word article and finished a content edit for a friend this week. Today, I start on a copy edit for this same friend–one step closer to seeing her work in print!

It seems like my writing really picked up steam earlier this year. During the last week of May, I finally finished the first draft of a second novel. Now I’m in a routine–and it feels good to be in a writing routine. Even moving slowly, if I stick to this routine I think I can get two more book-length rough drafts finished this year and possibly get one of the three ready for publication.

Most of my days involve some personal writing and personal editing. I’m still editing for other authors (we trade work) and I’ve picked up some fun nonfiction articles again–I can never set them aside for longer than a few months at a time. Journaling my successes is just a part of my life now.

Although I’ve terribly neglected this blog, it seems like everything else in my life is in a quiet balance, rotating silently around each other, giving me the space and time I need to focus on one thing at a time for short bursts every day.

I can’t say how much I enjoy that.

I feel like I’ve finally reached a graduation moment of my own, a moment when I’ve achieved something momentous. I’ve sought balance all my life.

Who’s to say this peaceful lull will continue? My daughter’s life is already changing. She’s preparing for college, and I know my life will change along with hers.

I’m just really grateful to have things the way they are today.

 

February 4, 2014

Kindles, blogging and changes

DSC00431

Oh, how I have loved my Kindle. It’s been a companion for me for almost three years now, filling the gaps in my time while I sat in waiting rooms, the car, and, most often, here at home.

Imagine my distress when it didn’t power on last week.

Thankfully, it was just a low battery (I think). I’ve been careful to keep it charged since then, but it did bring to mind the fact that everything changes.

Even this blog.

If I remember right, I started blogging here in the spring of 2011, and I promptly took a really long break while my family moved and settled into our new home. I tried blogging again in late 2012 and followed through with some serious blogging until about April of last year. Then I took another long break, blogging only here and there for the past several months. All this after writing a blog about North Dakota for two years, and then setting that one aside for good…

BottledWorder has an excellent post about this sort of thing. To answer her questions–yes, I have taken several breaks from writing–and yes, I always miss it.  I always come back to it.

It does, however, sometime seem necessary for me to take a step back and re-evaluate what I’m doing, especially whether it’s fitting in with my overall life. I enjoy too many things too much to keep them all on the back shelf while I’m writing. This past year, my writing hiatus led to the idea of a no-deadline kind of lifestyle.

I’m now ready to report on that experiment. Except, I don’t really know what to say.

I don’t miss the stress of deadlines, especially the ones I place on myself.

I do miss the happy-busy-writing feel that blogging gives me. It’s a quick fix when I can’t get to my other works-in-progress.

I don’t miss writing by an editorial calendar (mostly because I tend to pack it too full of things I can never really get to, which means I have to keep revising my plan).

I do miss the surprising twists blog posts sometimes seem to take.

I don’t miss the moments when I’m scrambling for a picture I deem blog-worthy enough to attend my writing.

I do miss regular interaction with all my blogging friends. I’m sorry to say that if I’m not blogging, I’m not online enough to read other blogs, either. I’ve missed it, and it’s made me realize just how important other bloggers are to me.

So I guess the bottom line is this: I want to blog more. Again.

No promises on how much or when, but since I’m a work in progress, I guess this blog has to change with me.

I suppose that’s really part of the fun of it, anyway. 🙂

 

 

 

August 24, 2013

Personal deadlines are hereby banished

Freedom!

Freedom!

Five years ago, I  paced my hallway floor, venting to my sweetheart.  I was overwhelmed by my writing workload. I felt inadequate as a wife and mother, completely backward when it came to social situations and I sometimes thought I could drown in a constant flood of paperwork, laundry and dishes.

He spoke as kindly and truthfully then as he always does. “You don’t need to take on so much work if you don’t want to,” he said, and “You don’t need to set deadlines for every project you want to do.”

Okay. I sometimes still feel overwhelmed, but his advice has been stewing on the back burners of my mind for long enough that I think I’m finally getting it.

Here’s how I know: As I wandered through the JoAnn Fabrics store a few weeks ago, I realized I didn’t need to buy materials for a new creative project, no matter how much I love the idea, no matter how great the coupons are. I’d really rather be writing.

Beyond that, my creativity cup already runs over.

My shelves at home are still stocked with half-finished quilts, sewing and needle work projects, crochet and knitting endeavors and a plethora of materials for other hobbies. I used to list them out on a notebook page. (It generally took two columns.)

Of course, sewing and craft projects were only part of the notebook. I also had pages for my writing projects, for landscaping and gardening ideas, for recipes and cooking ideas I meant to try, and on and on and on.

I used these notebook pages to set goals, in every area at once, and all of them had target deadlines.  That was a bad idea. Having set deadlines for myself only increased the stress and pressure I felt, and it sometimes meant I got so frustrated that I gave up completely.

It became a vicious cycle of perfectionism: I’d try, fail, get angry, tell myself I could do better, write even longer, more detailed lists and create more unrealistic goals with even more unreachable deadlines. I set myself up for failure.

Finally, I landed on the idea of a personal level up system where I could focus on the amount of time I spent working on a project rather than on accomplishing a certain number of things each day. Even then, I struggled to focus on just one or two areas at once.

It’s taken some time, but I’m getting better at it. I’ve created some rules for myself to help protect  me from my own perfectionist tendencies.

  • I am to hold the perfect Gwen Bristol in my mind every day–not as something I have to be immediately, but as if I already am the way I intend to be. This is a no-pressure exercise. I mean to savor and enjoy what it feels like to already be there, and I refuse to allow myself to even think about how I get there.
  • Beyond my simple housekeeping routines, I can only focus on three level-up areas each day–and one of those always, always gets to be writing. 🙂 Happiness and Joy!!!
  • In writing, I can work on no more than three projects at a time–this includes writing, editing, publishing, marketing…the whole gamut of what it means to be an author.
  • I will accept deadlines from other people, but no more than three deadline-oriented projects at a time. (If I say no to a request, please understand that it isn’t a permanent no…more than likely, your request will remain in a ‘possible project’ queue for me to get to when I can. This is important to me, because I really do love helping other people. I love it so much that I sometimes let what they want get in the way of other things I’m trying to accomplish. In the long run, that’s not good for anyone.)
  • Where my own projects are concerned, deadlines are hereby banished.

Instead of goals, I’m going to track my progress in a journal. More Writing! Hurrah! I’m hoping this will help me celebrate my successes rather than focus on what I haven’t yet finished.

My theory: If I remove the stress, I’ll actually get more done, in every area of my life, but specifically with my writing works-in-progress. I expect all my priorities to balance out and increase my joy.

So here begins my no-deadline experiment. I’ll try this out and I’ll report on it here on my blog when I have a feel for whether this can work or not.

See how I didn’t create a deadline for myself? See?!? This is going to be a lot of fun. 🙂

August 14, 2013

Slow Blogging, emotions, and marketing

Best-selling writing elicits emotions strong enough to move a reader to action. Could this apply to blogs?

Best-selling writing elicits emotions strong enough to move a reader to action. Could this apply to blogs?

About four months ago, I came across an idea called slow blogging. I’ve seen it several times since then, and wondered about whether or not it’s a good idea–specifically when health, hearth and other obligations recently kept me away from my blog for more than two weeks.

As I understand it, slow blogging refers to blogging less frequently, but putting more time and thought into posts–kind of allowing them to age.

I admit, my first reaction was one of skepticism. How, exactly, are writers supposed to develop a decent platform for selling their work without gaining followers on their blogs? And how, exactly, are bloggers supposed to build their followings without writing three or four posts a day, at least?

Then I came across this guest post at ProBlogger, written by Brooke McAlary (SlowYourHome.com). This is what she had to say about it:

I’ve been writing about simple living for over two years, but it wasn’t until I started applying the elements of slow blogging that I saw vast improvement in my work, my community and my readership.

Slowing down, posting less frequently, spending more time thinking, studying and writing my posts, has ultimately led me to attract a much bigger audience. My readers now are engaged, inspired and my greatest champions, and I put much of that down to my decision to go Slow.

I’ll say that part again, because it bears repeating.

My readership has grown as I’ve posted less.

I’m giving the idea of slow blogging some serious thought now, partly because, although my readership dropped when I wasn’t posting, I kept gaining followers.

Mind you, I like getting followers, but that’s not why I blog. I blog because I’m a talk-a-holic, and I sometimes just have to get things out of my system.

I blog because I like the online community of writers, photographers and other artists–everyone has something wonderful to share. I like to be there to enjoy it all.

Also, I blog because I have a nagging need to learn, and it seems like the best way to really internalize what I’m learning is to share it with someone else. Blogging is the perfect medium for this.

I can’t say I don’t enjoy the feeling of attracting readers who think about and dream about the same things I think and dream about. I appreciate the fact that these people form part of my platform, but I really value them as a network of real-life friends that I just haven’t had the chance to meet in person yet. The really important thing about blogging, for me, is not so much the possibility of using my contacts to promote my work as the fact that my blogging friends add joy to my life.

Who doesn’t like joy?

And that brings me to my next point: my recent marketing studies have convinced me that if I really want to get the hang of writing books that sell, I need to get the hang of writing books that evoke emotions strong enough to move a reader to action.

From Dave Farland’s Million Dollar Outlines:

Do you see the relationship between reading and other forms of recreation? Here it is: when we read, we buy into a shared dream, a fiction, and by dong so we put ourselves in emotional jeopardy.

Later he wrote:

At the very heart of it, reading stories or viewing them allows us to perform an emotional exercise. And the better you as a writer are at creating fiction that meets your audience’s deepest needs, the better your work will sell.

(Read more about what I think about this book here.)

From Jonah Berger’s Contagious: Why Things Catch On:

When we care, we share.

This includes sharing things on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets.

Berger also wrote:

When trying to use emotions to drive sharing, remember to pick ones that kindle the fire: select high-arousal emotions that drive people to action.

I’m convinced that emotion-provoking writing is a must for fiction. It’s likely a must for nonfiction, as well–and maybe it’s even more important in that arena.

But how does it relate to blogging, and slow blogging in particular?

My initial thoughts are these:

  • If I’m blogging fast because I’m feeling emotional about something, that’s probably going to be apparent to my readers, and it might be okay to share that. If, however, I’m blogging fast just to blog something–anything–then I may just be blowing smoke and wasting the time of readers I respect and care about.
  • If I’m blogging slow, I have time to savor my own thoughts before I share them with others. Since I tend to be impetuous, this might save me from the embarrassment of sharing things that are too personal. It also gives me time to think about what I have to offer my online friends, hopefully protecting them from seeing careless posts they feel uninterested in but obligated to respond to.
  • The more I control my blogging, the more real writing work I do–and that’s emotionally rewarding on an entirely different level. Conversely, if I’m discouraged about something, I tend to avoid my works-in-progress (and any other uncomfortable challenge) and focus solely on my blog. I have to wonder what kinds of emotions my readers pick up from me then.

At this point, I’m not sure how seriously I take slow blogging. It may happen on my blog by default as the demands of life create new priorities. A quick note here: I refuse to get frustrated by this. 

If slow blogging becomes a bigger part of my life, it won’t be because I don’t enjoy blogging. Rather, it will mean that I’m enjoying the balance of ALL of my life–blogging included.

 

August 6, 2013

Reality Check: even writers need down time

For me, crashing sometimes involves exploring new and interesting places.

For me, crashing sometimes involves exploring new and interesting places.

It’s been ten days since B.R. Chaston’s wedding, and nearly three weeks since my last blog post, I’ve been wrapped up in family and friends I never get to see, keeping promises to my children and catching up on everything else that was neglected during this time…including my works-in-progress, which I think are now somewhat back on course.

Overall, it’s been very enjoyable…although, a few times, I really was running faster and laboring more than I had strength and means. My beautiful Mom told me once when I get that way, I’m like a car running on empty. I’m sure she’s right. As is normal for me when I let my life get unbalanced, I had to take some time to re-adjust my attitude.

At one point, my sweetheart shared with me something he learned in his certified public management course: You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.

Logically, I know this. Getting my heart to concur is a completely different story–hence my sometimes-obsession with time management strategies.

I suppose it comes from loving life a little bit too much. There are so many things I want to do, so many people I care about and want to help, so many things to enjoy and so many wonderful things to learn that I sometimes overwhelm myself with self-imposed deadlines. My long to-do lists that needlessly increase my stress levels. When my stress gets too high, my body is affected and my ability to do anything productive drops dramatically. This includes my writing.

I get frustrated with myself for not being perfect RIGHT NOW. And I know I would never treat any other human being as harshly as I treat myself, which is also frustrating…

When I reach that point, I have to take time away. It’s no one’s fault. It’s one of those things that simply IS. I do better with my writing, with my parenting and other relationships, with everything else in my life, when I take time to perform a reality check.

For me, this usually involves five steps:

  1. Crashing–a day or two away doing something relaxing, completely unrelated to anything else in my life. In the past, crashing has taken the form of escaping into nature, reading all day, watching Korean historical dramas, sometimes playing video games and in very rare instances, exploring someplace new and different on my own. (Once, when I had no resources for traveling by myself, I spent all day long on Google Earth, exploring Ireland and Scotland and the Shetland Islands.)
  2. After a day or two of these kinds of solitary activities, I’m able to take stock of who and what I am–what my goals are, what my dreams are, and what is realistic for me to accomplish with the time, means and energy I have.
  3. I almost always end up prioritizing my dreams, and usually I find I’ve spread my energies too thin. I have to pull them back, refocus them on the highest priorities in my life and forgive myself for not being able to do it all right now.
  4. As I do this, I tend to take stock of all the wonderful things I already have in my life. The truth is, I really think I have everything I want, right now. When I remember that, I remember also that I don’t want my life to change too quickly. I want to savor and enjoy what I already have, and that means I want to slow down.
  5. This realization recharges me with gratitude. Once my heart is thankful again, I find I have plenty of energy to keep working toward my goals.

For me, it’s a somewhat spiritual process, and the cycle takes at least four days to complete. This time, it took a full week.

I suppose I’ll get the hang of real life some day. I know I’ll have on-and-off periods like this while I try to keep my world balanced. There’s something wondrous and grand and completely mysterious about the whole process. I secretly feel if I can find a way to balance my life and keep it that way, I’ll have gained access to the secrets of the universe.

Meanwhile, I feel very much like this:

May 7, 2013

One more day, then back on track…

Getting back on track!

Getting back on track!

Every once in a while, my writing life gets hijacked by other priorities. I think it’s one of the hazards of working from home.

It’s been that way for me here for almost a week now, but I’m almost through the  rough patch. One more busy busy day away from my office, and I can get back on track with my works-in-progress!

That means I can get back to my blog, too, which I’ve really missed. I count everyone who visits here and chats with me as friends, and I’ve missed being able to read your posts. I’m looking forward to catching up again. Hopefully there will be some time tomorrow afternoon where I can sit back and enjoy reading other blogs.

As busy as today will be, a good chunk of it will be spent acting as a chauffeur for one of my daughters. She’s going on a photo shoot with her school photography club. I’ll have fun watching, but I’ll be bringing my Kindle along, as well. I have a library full of marketing books I want to dig into again. 🙂

I still have to write an update of my most recent KDP Select adventure. Hopefully that will come tomorrow, as well.

One really big blessing over this past rough week has been the Rome Construction Crew. I haven’t had a chance to connect, but I’ve been able to keep up with my health goal and volunteer goal and I’m making some progress toward my writing goal for May. Just knowing I’ll have to post about it at some time has been incredibly motivating for me. You are all wonderful and I wish you the best day ever.

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