Writing lists – by hand

Penelope Trunk from Brazen Careerist is guest blogger at JibberJobber and has posted about Writing Lists. She writes I am a list writer. I do it by hand. Every day.

I write lists by hand too, it makes me think more about what’s in the lists than when I just enter something into a computerized list. Penelope puts it this way:

You know those things that you keep on your list forever but never get to? You face reality much sooner if you rewrite by hand. The repetition of rewriting something that will never happen starts to get to you. You leave it off.

Writing lists by hand naturally helps me with one key issue, to decide what is important and what is not.

This was originally posted at Forty Plus Two, another blog of mine.

The Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun

I got the link in my daily “Forward Steps” message and I really love these eight principles.

  1. Stop Hiding Who You Really Are
  2. Start Being Intensely Selfish
  3. Stop Following the Rules
  4. Start Scaring Yourself
  5. Stop Taking It All So Damn Seriously
  6. Start Getting Rid of the Crap
  7. Stop Being Busy
  8. Start Something

Now go and watch the movie over at The Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun!

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

Top 5 things I look for in a blog

These are the top 5 things I look for in a blog.

1. Looks and style.
I prefer a clean look where content is king. Too much clutter drives me away. Ads can bring home money to the site but if the ads are all over the place and are more prominent than the content then something is wrong. Sound is annoying unless I can control it, turning it on or off based on what I want there and then.

2. Personality.
Information can be found in many places. What makes a blog and a blog post stand out is often the personal touch. I do not mean tearing your heart out, I mean adding your own view and thoughts based on your own experience. A personal style in writing, not just lining up the facts, is what makes me long for more.

3. Food for thoughts.
Whether I agree or disagree, I do like it when a blog post makes me think. A post that challenges me or makes me see things from a different perspective is gold.

4. Content and structure.
We often enter a blog on a single post we found somehow, through a search engine or a link. This makes it important for the blog to connect the dots in a user friendly manner. Using things like categories, tags and related posts in a smart way keeps the reader there browsing more posts. If I see that a blog has many interesting posts I bookmark it or subscribe to its feed. But if I can not find my way around the blog I leave.

5. Links.
A blog that has many links is useful, you can continue reading about a specific topic elsewhere. To me it means that the blogger has done some research and is willing to share sources.

What about my own blog?
The readers should vote on this but I can say what I try to achieve in these areas.
1. I have neither ads nor sound and have picked a theme that I think has the content as centerpiece.
2. Well, I think I need to get better at this.
3. This is up to the readers, I post about things that I have been thinking about.
4. I use categories and site search tags but not related posts.
5. I use links whenever I find it useful for my posts, to name sources as well as additional reading.

This is my submission for the Top 5 – Group Writing Project at Problogger.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

Recommendations to a blogger, part 2

Part one is Top three things I recommend a blogger.

Daniel Sweet from FRACAT gives his best blogging tips:

  • I believe personality is vitally important. There are a *lot* of places to get information on the web. Being who people *want* to get that information from is a vital differentiator.
  • Plug-ins are great (and I need to get that comment one), but don’t get carried away. Do you remember the first document you ever created when you first had access to a ton of fonts? That’s the way an over-plug-inned blog looks.
  • Make it welcoming to your readers. Don’t make them have to go through backflips to comment or get in touch with you. They’ll just leave instead.
  • Edit! Sometimes it’s hard to see that I edit my blog postings. However, there are huge chunks left “on the cutting room floor”. If your posts tend to be long (like mine), make a post and the cut it in half.

In the previous post I wrote “Personality is good but do not let that get in the way of creating things worth reading”. But I agree with Daniel, in order to become the one who people *want* to get information from then personality is needed to stand out from the crowd.

Keeping the blog clean, my tip from part 1, matches Daniel’s warning about not using too many plug-ins.

Editing is important, also in short posts. I usually edit my posts several times before clicking on Publish. And I sometimes review older posts, to add (or remove) some text or to link to some blog that adds more value to my post.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

Top three things I recommend a blogger

There is an interesting discussion over at “LinkedinBloggers” about the top three things you recommend a blogger. I got good recommendations and it made me think about what is important for me in a blog.

Jason Alba from “JibberJobber” started out with this list:

  • keeping it clean – don’t make the readers search for your content, one of the best things that happened to me was when Google kicked me off of their advertising program (dang click-frauder)
  • high quality posts, or they won’t come back
  • lots of links out to pertinent blogs, to get on their radar
  • offline or real networking, where in addition to linking to another blogger you try and develop a relationship with him/her
  • writing just the right length – and if appropriate, ask questions to encourage comments
  • transparency and personality – Penelope Trunk is a master of this, even though she gets slammed a lot she has a loyal following
  • controversy is … good for eyeballs, but is it on-brand? Most of my posts aren’t controversial… some have been, but don’t slam, flame, etc.

Rick Calvert from “Blog World Expo Blog” added these:

  1. Unless you are a super blogger with tons of comments send a thank you email to every new commenter if they agree with you or not. Especially the trolls. Kill em with kindness and you will win new fans and readers.
  2. email other bloggers when they post something you really like. People like to be recognized for their efforts. Even A list bloggers.
  3. email other bloggers when you post something really good that you think they might be interested in. Don’t spam them every time you post. We all post something every once in a while that we think is particularly good. When you do, promote yourself politely and people will link to you, particularly if you have linked to them in the past.

My own take echoes some of the ones above:

  • Keeping it clean is one of my key tips. I always assume that the text is the main issue, everything else is just complimentary. Do not use bigger images than needed (like huge RSS-buttons), do not list every RSS-service you can think of, do you really benefit from ads.
  • Think about what shows up on the screen, before scrolling. Put the most important information at the top of your side menu.
  • Have a layout that is nice to the reader, it shall be easy on the eyes! I have seen blogs with four columns with text in just one narrow column that becomes a mile long.
  • Quality text is needed and do not write too short posts (I need to work on that).
  • Try to focus on a limited number of topics or the blog gets too fussy.
  • Be generous and link to other blogs, guiding visitors to related sites create networks.
  • Personality is good but do not let that get in the way of creating things worth reading, do share knowledge and ideas.

I know, my list has more than three tips but they are all important to me.

See also Recommendations to a blogger, part 2.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

Butterflies First Live In Cocoons

I found more interesting things to read at “Masterful Living Newsletter”. This post is about the importance of having periods of rest, to recharge and get ready for the next step in life. In “Butterflies First Live In Cocoons” Christen Murphy Resmo starts like this:

We all must have restful periods of incubation and calm. You’re meant to enjoy this time to relax and quietly grow, or simply catch your breath a while. Inactivity helps you gather energy so that you can take yourself to a whole new level in life. You’ll need these stores of energy so that, in the right time and place, you’ll be able to take off and fly high.

I agree that it is very important to take time outs, to rest a while and recharge.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

The Journey by Brandon Bays

The Journey is a concept created by Brandon Bays. It is also the title of a book. I bought the book last summer and read it. The first half of the book is about Brandon healing herself from a tumor, the second half is about the concept used to solve more mental issues.

I did two sessions of The Journey last summer, after reading the book and with a therapist I trust. The method worked very well for me and I like the fact that each session handled everything for an issue, no loose ends when leaving.

There is of course some critique of Brandon Bays’ The Journey, some call it just another version of NLP. But that is no problem for me, as long as the method works and you can find a therapist to trust.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

The Cosmic Ordering Service

Bärbel Mohr has written a book called “The Cosmic Ordering Service”. On the back of the book it says “Barbel Mohr can teach you how to fulfill all your wishes – just by placing an order with the universe”.

I am not sure about her promises but I like the book anyway. It is a lesson in positive thinking, figuring out what we want, wishing for it and then keeping our eyes and mind open to possibilities. In many ways it sounds similar to the “Law of Attraction – The Secret”.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.