Tuesday Tip: Dust Off Your Blog!

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If Gladys can do it, so can you.

You heard me: dust off your blog! Or your website, if that’s where your writing stuff is laying about. 

Here’s the thing. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to do a little house-cleaning. And by house-cleaning, I mean getting your web presence in order. (I suppose you could actually get your home in order, too, but I’d probably be the last person to give tips on housework.)

The best part is that it doesn’t take a ton of your time. Just check all the links you have listed. Do they take readers to where they’re supposed to go? You’d be surprised at how often website domains change names (or maybe not, if you’ve noticed that I changed my domain name here at the blog). And if you come across an inactive site or blog or link you’ve listed, get rid of it. There’s no point in keeping clutter around.

And then, spruce up things a bit! Have you kept the same old, same old links to your work?   A visitor might think you haven’t produced anything since 2007! So add your new stuff, a touch of color here and there, maybe rearrange your favorites, freshen things up.

In a half hour or so, you’ll look around and think, “Wow. It looks completely different up in here.” And besides, you know how much everyone loves a sweet-smelling blog.

Tuesday Tip: Writer, Value Yourself

I came across an interesting article yesterday over at International Freelancers Academy. It was called:

Why Low Self-Worth Drives Lower Wages for Women Freelancers — and What You Can Do About It

Sounds like a college course, doesn’t it? And honestly, the writer made some pretty well-researched and interesting points about freelancing. But even if you’re not at all interested in the freelancing side of writing, you may want to check out this article. In fact, you may want to spend some time over at IFA. It won’t be long before their articles and training and philosophy will start to seep into your psyche, encouraging you to value yourself as a writer.

Recently, I’ve spent quite a bit of time around family whom I love dearly, but family working in a 9 to 5, traditional work environment. And so, because I don’t work in a 9 to 5, traditional work environment, I’m invariably asked, “Now, what is it you do again?” And when I say (again)  that I’m a writer, I’m also invariably asked what I write.

I suppose writers who can answer that question with, “Oh, I write for Cosmo.” Or “I write for _(insert large circulation newspaper)_.” might get an approving nod.  But I stammer around, trying to think of something, anything that might sound familiar to a non-writer. Something that will erase that blank look from the listener’s eyes. Chicken Soup books usually come to my rescue, but of course, I know that they then think I write 9 to 5 for Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Oy. So on occasion, I need a little pep talk. I need to boost my self-esteem. I need to remember to value my work. The article at International Freelance Academy fortified me just in the nick of time. And now it’s time to get back to being a writer.

Tuesday Tip: Grabbing Opportunity

So I grabbed the Beneficent Mr. Hall and said, “They have telescopes set up for Venus transiting the sun. We need to be ready to go in 20 minutes.”

Now, honestly, the man was sitting at his desk, peacefully doing whatever it is he does at his desk. He knew about the whole Venus transit deal, but up until that moment, I hadn’t exactly gotten around to discussing the adventure I’d planned. So I suspect he was a little surprised to learn that he was driving 30 minutes to a park on the other side of the county (we live in a rather large county–the entire state of Rhode Island could fit inside Gwinnett) at suppertime, to look through a telescope to see a black dot on the sun. But he’s always had a soft spot for space stuff, so it was all systems go.

Then Youngest Junior Hall called to say he was on the way home, and what were we having for supper?

“Oh,” I said. “Ummmm…we’re sort of leaving in about 12 minutes to watch Venus transit the sun.”

“I’ll catch it next time,” he said. Well, he’s a business major, so he has a good excuse. Then I explained that though it was possible he might catch it the next time, the odds were not exactly in his favor. And he said, “Okay, I’m coming, too.”

And he did. Then we sat around, waiting for the clouds to move, and they did. So we milled about, wearing cardboard sunglasses made especially for viewing the sun, and we peered through telescopes, and we saw Venus transit the sun. And it was awesome.

Which is a long way of saying that when a great opportunity comes around, something that might help you become a better writer, grab it. Maybe it’s an author coming to town to speak, or a conference that’s only 2 hours away, or a contest where you can win a critique. Grab it!

Because you never know when an opportunity will come ’round again.