Recipe for a blog post

Food for thought

It’s the day before my Thursday blog post. I am hungry and coming up empty!

I must head over to my blogger’s cupboard; the place where I keep all the bits and pieces of ideas I’ve collected over time.

Let’s see.… Well, here are a few spicy samples, but they have a beginning and no ending. There are some staples that might fill my belly, but they’ve been used a bit too often. Over there, hidden in the back, are the slightly used, but not very tasty jars of mixed metaphors and lost storylines.

So, my cupboard, while not totally bare, is as thin as watered-down soup.

Looking inside the cupboard again, I wonder what would happen if I combined a portion of the staples with a pinch of the slightly used jar of metaphors and a dash of the spicy samples.

Eat my words

Here I go, tossing them together with hope, like sailors back from the sea amidst a superfluity of nuns. I stir these together. Let’s see if I have created a lexicon of learning about new word recipes.

They sit together with an uncertain flavor; these words I’ve taken from my cupboard and cautiously melded into the plush and airy soufflé of possibility.

Let’s give it a taste; there’s no time to waste.

Yuck! These words do NOT dance well together. Perhaps I should try adding some sugar and salt. Then they might fit together like peas in a pod. Maybe I could toss in a few sweet metaphors filled with sugary promises. I need a dangling modifier…

Sadly, this post cannot be made into a gourmet meal for the hungry literate; it is more for the illiterate tastes of this desperate writer.

If only my blogger’s cupboard were not as bare as a baby’s bottom, I might fold this into a better tasting story.

It’s such a shame that I am so unprepared for fixing a post for all of you hungry people. You must settle for this written tripe:~).

New Blog Header Revealed

Beyond the writing

While preparing this announcement the song “Hey Look Me Over” started playing in my head. It’s been ages since I’d thought of this song and I realized how much it illustrated my feelings about blogging and the new header design.

Blogging encourages my natural voice to be expressed. It gives me a freedom with writing that I never had before. I can write AND share. This is exhilarating!

I’ve grown to realize that blogging is about more than writing. It’s about marketing a blog and its voice. A blog needs to illustrate what a blogger is about in just a few seconds.

It goes beyond the writing and the name of the blog. The “look and feel” of a blog is what catches a reader’s attention even before they start reading.

I found the right designer for this creative project with the help of my social media goddess, Kathy Hendershot Hurd.

My first conversation with Richard Leach lasted more than an hour. We spoke about everything from the blog’s header, to his art and our lives in general. My intuition told me that he was the right person to design my header and I hired him on the spot!

It wasn’t long before Richard emailed me a series of different designs. It took me only a few seconds to make my choice.

The person behind the blog

This header is how I like to think about myself: light-hearted, warm and fun. The two hearts hint at “the sharing”, while the sunglasses and the bit of my face you see shows off my playful and teasing nature. Richard captured the essence of who I am as the person behind the blogger.

Most importantly, this header makes me smile. Its playfulness and sense of humor pleases me. It is happy and positive and this is why I think the song, Hey Look Me Over, popped into my head.

The last few words of this song tell my story:

I figure whenever you’re down and out,
The only way is up.
Up like a rose bud,
High on the vine,
Don’t thumb your nose folks,
Take a tip from mine,
I’m a little bit short of the elbow room,
But let me get me some,
And look out world,
Hear me shout world,
Hey look out world,
Here I come!

So, look out world, here I come:~)

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p.s. If you want to contact Richard, here’s his contact information. I highly recommend him:~)

Creative Edge Design
Richard Leach, Designer/Illustrator
Toll-Free: 1-866-213-3330

Who is Your Target Audience?

target-audience_illustratio

Illustration by Leo Blanchette

Blogging to stand out

I recently decided to have a header designed for my blog because I felt that the title, The Sharing Connection, didn’t stand out.

I learned about 99designs.com and began familiarizing myself with their process. First, you write a “brief” that describes your blog and what you want designed; then you establish the dollar amount you’re willing to pay. Once your brief is made public on their website, designers can submit their bids.

Creating the brief was relatively easy, until I got to the one question I always struggle with: “Who is your target audience?” Once again, I tussled with this question. I did finally answer it to the best of my ability, but it took some work.

The muse and the target audience

One of the first comments to my design brief was from a designer who stated that he couldn’t tell who my target audience was. His comment annoyed me, though I knew he had a point. It IS hard for me to define my target audience.

I’ve done visualizations around the particular person I am writing to, pictured the type of job they might have, their age, their sex and whether or not they have children. Unfortunately, I’ve never gotten a clear picture of the target person I believe I am writing to.

This is frustrating because I DO know that it’s better to have a defined audience. Unfortunately, my muse doesn’t seem to agree. She craves variety.

I write what my muse gives me. Sometimes a post is fully born in my thoughts and I can sit down at the computer and type it out without any struggle; it’s all there.

Other times, I get a phrase, picture or vague concept that will rattle about in my thoughts, begging for release. This is when it takes more work to figure out what my muse wants me to write. When I get it, I feel complete; like I’ve done my job.

However, it’s still a fact that I’m not really sitting down to write with one specific person in mind. For me, writing is more like painting a picture with words. It may be a picture that people can relate to, or it may be one that makes them scratch their head in confusion. I never know what’s coming.

For me personally, my blog allows me to talk and share my life with whoever wants to listen and join in the conversation. Don’t get me wrong, I always hope that what I write will interest my readers. I want my words to make them laugh, inspire creativity, or give them something helpful they can use in their everyday lives.

Me and my target audience

The truth be told…

I don’t feel I want to write for a specific audience. I compare my blog to a restaurant without a set menu; you get whatever the chef is fixing. If you like the meal, great; if you don’t, I hope you’ll come back and see what’s cooking the next time.

With this attitude, I realize I may never become a problogger. Then again, chances are I wouldn’t know if I was anyway; I rarely check my stats!

On the other hand, I love getting comments and responding to them. For me, the comment section is a chance to interact with readers and discover who they are, what they have to say and what they’re writing about. THIS is the sharing part of The Sharing Connection. It’s a community; not a business or a competition.

So, if you’re reading this, guess what? You’re a member of my target audience. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, if you have blue or brown hair, are over 50 or much younger. I welcome you all:~)

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Now it’s your chance to share what you think. You won’t my feelings and I really like it when people speak their truth!

How important do you think having a target audience is for your blog?

What was one thing you did that really helped you develop a target audience?

If you weren’t writing to specific target audience, what, if anything, would be different on your blog?

If you don’t like these questions, ask and answer the question you think I should have asked.

It’s okay to ask for help!

turtle

We all have times when we need help, but hesitate to ask for it.

This happened to me when I wanted to make a change on my blog. I wasn’t certain how to add the specific code I needed.  I didn’t ask for help with my blog management because I thought I could do it on my own, but mostly, because I didn’t want to burden anyone.

In WordPress, this is called punching the BIG ASS MISTAKE button! Instead of getting help, I did it myself…and blew up my blog!

I had to call my blog guru Kathy Henderson-Hurd to ask for help. She dropped what she was working on to fix my problem, and had to completely reconstruct my blog site!

What could have taken her 10 minutes if I’d asked in the beginning, ended up taking hours. Somehow just saying “oops” doesn’t cover this one. And it happened all because I didn’t want to ask for help.

To be fair, making the mistake of not asking for help isn’t uncommon. In the States, we’ve been taught from infancy that needing help is a sign of weakness. We learn to be “independent” and not ask for assistance. I don’t think this is right.

Needing help is perfectly normal. Not asking for it is not normal. Most people want to help; we just have to learn to be more comfortable asking for it.

It’s time to make it okay to ask for help. NO, actually it’s more than okay; it’s healthy to ask for help when we need it.

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What about you? Is it easy for you to ask for help?

Have you experienced a time when you should have asked for help?

What are your thoughts on how asking for help could be a cultural issue?

There will be no Monday Story Photo Post on May 4th as I will be traveling out of the country. Look for the Monday post on May 11th as there will be a special guest on that day.