Years ago, I was the moral support for a friend going to a hairstylist. She had long hair, nearly to her waist and wanted a change. A big change! She sat in the chair and told the hairstylist, “Cut it short and give me something that will work for me.” I think the hairstylist was more excited than my friend.
His smile grew as hair fell on the floor. He explained he loved it when a client does a complete change and gives him creative freedom with the new look. “Cut it down and start new!”
I know how he feels. My last post announced the new look. Yesterday, I deleted all my old menus and pages. Three years of accumulated stuff gone in a couple of minutes. My version of “Cut it down and start new!”
My moment of design bless was brief. Two of those old pages are still useful, so I added them back. My first new page is my favorite posts on this blog. The list of my favorite posts are below, but I will maintain the list on the new page. I hope you like them as much as I do:
This blog is over 3 years old and has over 200 posts. It’s time to remodel. I don’t have an artistic bone in my body how to change a blog? Pick a new theme from the wonderful selection WordPress provides. Tada … blog remodeled! I hope you like it. Now the real work begins cleaning up my menus and projects. Thank you for readingMaryland Travel Stories!
Note to self – I had a great time at the Ridgeley Rosenwald School on Saturday (04/28/2018)! I was there to hear Rev. Perry Smith III, the esteemed former pastor of the First Baptist Church of North Brentwood. The program was a discussion of his contribution to the Civil Rights Movement. Rev. Smith was a Freedom Rider in 1961 and worked alongside Dr. King., Rosa Parks and other heroes of the movement. Artura Jackson, M.A. (Museum / Program Assistant with the Black History Program at Abraham Hall) presented Rev. Smith and guided the discussion. Mae Williams (Chair of the Ridgeley Rosenwald School Taskforce) talked about her experience in the movement as well.
Why the note to self? This would have been an opportunity to record a program but have you ever tried to hold a camera still for more than a few minutes? I just purchased my first tripod! Time to up my game as a blogger.
Note to self – I’m now using Grammarly.com to check my posts before I hit the “Publish” button. While it’s easy to fix a spelling or grammar issue in a post, it looks bad to email readers. I’m very sorry about that! I can’t say it won’t happen again but I’m trying very hard.
Note to self – It’s time to clean up the menus on my blog. I want them to correctly show the projects I’m working on. You’ll see the cleanup over the next few days. My current blogging projects are:
Note to self – Why I’m Ending the Maryland Waterfall Project – This one makes me sad. I was really looking forward to having photos of all the waterfalls in Maryland. My first to attempts were a bust. It’s not possible for me to get photos of all the falls in Maryland. Gap Falls is on private property. Access is blocked by a gate. Yellow Falls is on the Potomac River by Turkey Island. You need a boat to visit this falls. Best I quit while I’m ahead. There are other projects I can work on.
I was laying on a beach in Florida last week. Water lapping up around me. Sun shining in my eyes. My wife and I drove down there just before the DMV had that snowstorm. I saw pictures of it on Facebook … as my feet played in the sand. We had a little wind a couple days but no snow!
This vacation was perfect timing for me. It’s January, the start of a new year. I’m away from the hustle and bustle. A break from the fog of thinking that comes with my daily routine of work and chores. A chance to let it all go and think about something different (or nothing at all) for a few days. Now the main benefit of this vacation.
First, you should know that 2016 was a crappy year for me. I just need to be honest about that! I won’t go into details but let’s just say I was happy to see that year end. The vacation was a chance to do a mental re-charge and then a mental reset. It’s GAME ON for 2017! The last couple days of the vacation were about playing in the ocean by day and wiping out the flip chart at night. I have a new plan and a new set of goals. Here are my blogging goals for 2017:
Get a camera and learn how to use it – I’ve been using my iPhone for photos. I realize I need to up my game on photos. I’m buying a camera and I’ve signed up for some online classes on Skillshare.com.
Learn to produce video – I can record video on my iPhone and on the camera. It’s learning to produce a good video that will make a big difference for my blog and social media. I’ll have to use baby steps on this one but I want to be posting high quality video content by the end of 2017.
Network with fellow bloggers – I hear this on the Dave Ramsey Show all the time. It’s a quote from motivational speaker Charlie Jones. He said, “You’re the same today as you will be in five years except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.” I already read books and listen to podcasts. It’s time to meet people beyond groups on Facebook. I will attend at least three blogger, travel writer or social media conferences / meetups this year.
Start interviewing – I’ve been writing posts about places and things but not people. I need to talk to people to tell better stories. (Baby steps here as well.) I will do a post incorporating interviews at least once a quarter for 2017. This will force me to become a better writer.
I’m printing this out and pinning it to my wall as a reminder of my goals. 2017 will be about becoming a better writer and creating better content. 2018 will be about making more money!
This post caught my eye as a travel blogger. Want to get paid to travel? Travel With Kate has some tips for you …
“Over the years I have received messages from viewers and readers asking me how to become a professional traveler. In response, here are my tips that I wish someone had given me when I was starting out.”
“Yesterday, writers released their frustrations all over Twitter with #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter.
It was a fun and cathartic exercise. Many of these tweets overlapped with things that travel bloggers hear all the time, like assumptions about how we sit around in our pajamas all day and don’t do “real” work.
But we travel bloggers hear a whole other collection of absurdities when it comes to our profession. Even those who don’t blog “professionally” have likely fallen victim to some presumptions and snark from those who just don’t get why/how we do what we do.”
I’m trying to grow as a blogger. I joined a few blogger groups on Facebook so I could network and learn from other bloggers. I’m glad I did it because I am networking and learning.
One of the Facebook groups I joined isBlogging Newbs. It’s basically an online support group for people who have been blogging for less than two years. This is a good group to ask questions, get general blogging information and get ideas. It’s a very active group.
One of the members of the group posted a question last month. She had just started her blog the day before. She said she felt like it won’t succeed because of the amount of readers. She than asked how do I get more readers? I was one of several bloggers that replied to the question. My response was:
“I’m told the average blogger can expect to spend 2 years building up a good following and engagement. Writing talent can speed the process up. Good social media can speed the process. Networking and exposure can speed the process. Guest posting on other blogs can speed the process. Pay attention to the posts that get you the best response and do more of those posts. Always ask for feedback from successful bloggers on how you can improve your blog. POST CONSISTENTLY!!!
One last thing – focus more on building engagement and not building readers. 200 highly engaged readers is better than 2,000 readers that never like or comment.”
To my fellow bloggers, this is my answer to the question. How would you answer?
A content plan for a new blog asks the following questions:
What type(s) of content do I intend to post and promote via social media?
How often you will post the content?
Who will create the content?
How will I promote the content?
Assumption I – The social media channels I will use for Maryland Travel Stories (MTS) are Facebook (7 followers), Twitter (38 followers), and Pinterest (1,545 followers). Other channels will be add when MTS is large enough that I can hire a virtual assistant. I currently outsource some graphic design work.
Assumption II – All activities around social media will be time budgeted in three categories: channel monitoring, content generation and engagement support. Currently, channel monitoring consumes 50% to 60% of the social media budget due to post sharing within each channel and limited followers for MTS. This number will decrease as engagement increases. Content generation will be limited to sharing posts from MTS and guest posts by me across channels.
What type(s) of content do I intend to post and promote via social media? Posts from MTS. I will also share interesting and relevant content from within each channel. Guest posts by me will be shared across all channels.
How often you will post the content? Channel monitoring is done daily. Any interesting and relevant content will be shared immediately. Post from MTS and guest posts will be shared within 24 hours of the post being published.
Who will create the content? Me, myself and I
How will I promote the content? There is no budget to promote content on any channel at this time. I plan to start testing promoted posts on Facebook in April 2016.
Well, this is my Social Media Content Plan. Questions and feedback are welcome. (Don’t be evil.)
I completed a social media audit. My activity on social media channels is as follows:
Facebook (7 followers) – I have a page setup for Maryland Travel Stories (MTS). I share most of the posts from the blog there as well as other stories I find on Facebook.
Twitter (38 followers) – MTS has a profile setup. I tweet most of the posts from the blog and retweet other stories.
Pinterest (1,543 followers) – This is my personal profile but I have boards setup to support MTS. The profile I setup for MTS is no longer active. The two most popular boards are Coffee Shop Stuff and Bucket List Ideas.
Google+ (1 follower) – MTS has a page setup. There’s a widget installed that automatically shares any post from the blog on the page. No other activity.
Instagram (1 follower) -I created a profile but the setup is not complete and there are no photo posted.
Social Media Priorities (I’m going to get hit with rotten tomatoes for this.) :
Priority #1 – Lower social media as a priority – Simply put, I don’t have enough hands and there are not enough hours in a day. I’m giving myself permission not to worry too much about sharing on social media. There are days when I spend three times as much time planning, posting and sharing on social media as I do creating the content I’m sharing … NUTS! This turns the fun of blogging into the chore of marketing … and adds all the stress! Of course I’ll be singing a different tune if I win the lottery or get a call from Oprah. It could happen.
Focus on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest – I have limited time and I have to focus. If I find a way to monetize the blog, I can add more social media channels by outsourcing the work. I already have a great recommendation for a virtual assistant.
Content Plan – Working on it now. This will be the next post for social media planning.
I started this blog on May 4, 2015. My first post was the commonly used “Hello world” template from WordPress. Fifty-eight simple words in a post to begin my journey as a blogger.
I borrowed this travel quote because it explains the reason I’m marking this date. I’m going from “traveling” blogger to “Storyteller.” (Only I’m going to use the term … freelance writer.)
I’m having fun as a travel blogger but I do have other interests. I can explore those interests as a guest blogger or guest writer on other sites. I just did my first guest post on The Caffeinated Writer.
Danielle is the fearless blogger at The Caffeinated Writer. She posted a request for guest bloggers. One of the subjects she’s interested in is caffeinated beverages. (It appeared as “coffee” in my mind.) I LOVE COFFEE! I can’t really talk about coffee on my blog so this was a great opportunity to write about something I enjoy in a place where it’s welcomed. A perfect combination!
So traveling storyteller to guest blogger … date marked! If you want to grow as a blogger, look into guest posting on other blogs.