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!
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.
It’s January 2016. The start of a new year. Time to reflect back and plan forward. I decided to do some of my planning out in the open because, frankly, I’m looking for feedback. I set my 2016 blogging goals. Now it’s time to tackle social media. Believe it or not, this is a much bigger mountain to climb. My early research suggests the best way to do this is to create a Social Media Marketing Plan. I’m modifying the process a little. I will use the following steps:
Conduct a Social Media Audit – Assess current social media channels, usage (if any) and results.
Define Social Media Priorities – I once gave presentations to small business people on how to use social media. And, I’m still very much a social media enthusiast. However, I know social media can consume all your time if you let it. It’s a lot of work! There are hundreds of social media sites and more are added weekly it seems. I have to decide which sites stay. Which sites go. Which sites get added.
Create, delete or improve social media channels based on priorities
Create a Content Plan
Outsource some duties
Well, this is the plan starting out. I’ll keep you posted. If you have any written social media goals or plans for your blog, please share! We can start a club and have t-shirts made.
I was nervous when I posted my 2016 Blogging Goals 3 days ago. Very, very nervous! Like hold my finger over the enter key for a few seconds before striking down nervous. This is a new blog and stating my goals for the world to see is … well, risky.
I decided to dig the hole deeper by sharing the post to friends by email and to fellow bloggers via the Maryland Bloggers Facebook group. “This’ll work better than counting sheep to put people to sleep”, I thought to myself. Then, I clicked the button and waited for the sound of crickets … or laughter.
Man was I wrong! I started getting feedback within minutes. People liked it, wished me good luck or congratulated me for blogging. All good to see and read. It’s confirmation that I was not crazy for clicking the button. Best of all, I got feedback! Real feedback. Enough feedback that I’m adding a few goals to my original list and re-thinking my approach for next year. [See original post for changes.]. Final 2016 blogging goals … set!
I started this blog in May 2015. I’ve had a few ups and downs and a HUGE learning curve. Funny, considering this isn’t my 1st blog! I’ve been blogging on and off for years. Both for myself and for others. Like any profession; technology changes, blogging tools change, and then there’s social media! While the barrier to blogging keeps getting lower, the number things you need to juggle grows faster. I’m getting the hang of this by constantly looking for new posting ideas and constantly taking classes to sharpen my saw.
Post at least once a week – I just had a two month hiatus from blogging while I moved. My training teaches me this is a big DO NOT DO in blogging! You can’t have long breaks in posting if you want to be treated as a professional blog. [Plus it’s a good way to lose your following!]
Network with other bloggers – I need to meet and befriend other bloggers. There’s power in numbers. Plus, networking is just a good thing to do in any hobby or profession. I found groups of Virginia bloggers [where I live], Maryland bloggers [the place I’m blogging about] as well as travel bloggers. Now I have to get active. You can never have too many friends.
Continue learning – Take classes – listen to WordPress & travel podcasts – attend blogging/travel conventions & meetups.