10 Reasons to Start a Blog

If you’re thinking maybe it’s time to start a blog, I hope this overview helps you decide one way or the other. I’ve seen many benefits from blogging so recommend it if you’re willing to put in the work!

Start a Blog

Why Start a Blog?

Blogging is one of those things people hear they should do…and then hear they shouldn’t do. So you may be wondering if there’s any merit at all in it.

There is. Merit that is. However, it’s not something to be taken lightly. Before deciding to start a blog think about your goals. What are your reasons? What do you want to get out of it? Is it something you can commit to?

If you think blogging will make you an overnight success or you’ll be discovered or some other get-rich-quick dream I’d take a step back and adjust your expectations. Sure, that could happen but the chances are low. However, there are still other excellent reasons to start a blog.

10 Reasons to Start a Blog

  1. Regular blogging improves your writing
  2. By managing a blog you can also improve your tech and design skills
  3. A blog is a great way to share your ideas and passions with others
  4. You can blog any day or time, no restrictions
  5. Blogging helps you find your voice
  6. You can help people through your blog
  7. Blogging helps you express yourself
  8. There are a lot of networking opportunities in the blogging world
  9. Publishing a blog helps you put your writing out there
  10. Blogging helps you gain confidence in yourself and your writing

In my opinion, blogs are brilliant. And for those just starting out in freelance writing, you blog can be an excellent source of writing samples (until you build your own portfolio). It can also give you a ton of useful resources to share on social media to help build your platform.

Of course, launching a blog is only the first part. The real secrets to blogging success are proper positioning and consistency. Over time you’ll carve a nice little space for yourself and build a community.

If you want another perspective I thought this article from the Unveiled Wife about why start a blog was insightful.

If you're thinking maybe it's time to start a blog, I hope this overview helps you decide one way or the other. I highly recommend blogging!

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Discover Your Ideal Reader

No matter if you’re a freelance writer or an author, knowing who your ideal reader is will make a huge difference to your writing career.

Ideal Reader

What is an Ideal Reader?

This is a fictional persona to whom your writing will most appeal. While this is not a scientific process, creating a profile helps you write with purpose and enables you to craft elements into your writing that surprises and delights this person.

Your ideal reader represents who you are writing to. It’s one person, not many people. This is a specific process and if you do it right, your ideal reader will come alive in your mind.

What this means is you need to figure out who your ideal reader is, what his or her interests are, and why your ideal reader reads. Your most important question is why will your ideal reader be interested in your book? Whatever the why, all readers have one
and it’s your job to discover it for your ideal reader.

Your Ideal Reader is Your Biggest Fan

When you know who you’re writing to it gives your writing purpose and direction. This may seem like a strange exercise to go through but trust me, it’s a key step. Even if it’s a loose definition, think about the person (real or fictional) who would most be interested in reading your work.

ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS

  • What does this person tend to focus on?
  • On social media, what does your ideal reader like sharing about?
  • From what you can gather, what does he/she most need/want/desire?

Once you know the answers to those initial questions answer this one: what problem are you solving for your ideal reader through your writing?

Through thinking about your ideal reader you should have a few words and phrases jotted down. Take a look and add a few more words to the page. This time, write down things about your ideal reader. Noting things like hopes, dreams, challenges or family dynamics can help you paint a picture. It can be vague or specific, long or short. Just jot down as much as you can think of in a five-minute period.

Look at the list you came up with and compare it to your first one—are you seeing a character emerge? Write a biography for this person—whatever comes to mind with as much detail as you can include. Remember, this is a creative exercise. You’re trying to imagine who the person is who can’t wait to read what you write. The more human you can make this person, the better.

Here are a few marketing applications

In essence, marketing your writing is simple—put your writing in front of the people who will love it. If you have an idea of who your ideal reader is then finding those (real life) people is a lot easier. The more you know, the better.

  • What stores do they shop in? Now you know where to sell your work
  • Where do they hang out? Now you know where to hold workshops or readings
  • What is their favourite social media platform? Now you know where you need to be online
  • What are their biggest fears? Now you know how to help them
  • What do they care most about? Now you know how to relate to them
  • What type of marketing will they best respond to? Now you know what you need to do

There are a lot of ways you can find your ideal reader (or book buyer, or ideal client, etc.) so it’s important not just to parrot what you see others doing online but to find something that works for you and feels natural.

No matter if you're a freelance writer or an author, knowing who your ideal reader is will make a huge difference to your writing career.

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SEO Tips and Tricks for Freelance Writers

While we may understand the importance of search engine optimization on an intellectual level, these SEO tips and tricks will (hopefully) help freelance writers understand how to vet a keyword to give their articles the best chance of being discovered.

SEO Tips and Tricks

SEO Tips and Tricks for Freelance Writers

Finding keywords is just the first step. Next is to figure out if it’s a good keyword or a bad keyword. But what does that mean?

Here’s how I like to think about good versus bad keywords. A good keyword means if I use it my article will have a chance of being discovered on the Internet. A bad keyword means it’s too competitive so don’t use it.

Keyword vetting to me means this. If I write an article about the keyword I’ve selected, will it have a chance to hit the first page of Google?

How to vet a keyword | SEO Tips and tricks

Once I’ve brainstormed my keyword ideas I take my top ones to KWFinder and do a quick check for difficulty.

It’s a simple keyword research tool to use—you pop in your word or phrase into the search bar and then click “Find Keywords.” A few seconds later your results populate and you can consider your options.

I thought I’d include a couple screenshots from my research for this post. After doing my initial research I was down to two key phrases for this post: SEO tips and tricks or keyword research tools. My results? The keyword “SEO tips and tricks” is possible to rank for with a difficulty score of 39 out of 100. The keyword “keyword research tools” is hard to rank for with a difficulty score of 61 out of 100. You can see these results on the right-hand side of the screenshot.

On the left-hand side of the screenshot you can see variations on the keyword and the difficulty associated with it. It helps you see what people are already ranking for and helps you come up with a strong direction to go with your article.

Final thoughts about seo tips and tricks

If you want to try KWFinder out there is a free account, which gives you five keyword searches every 24 hours. It’s a commitment-free way to try out the tool and decide if it’s a good fit for your writing flow.

You can make search engine optimization as complicated as you want. And you can make keyword research as expensive as you want. There are a lot of shiny objects in this world. But until you’re ready for that level of SEO, I suggest taking a simplified approach to vetting keywords.

Do you have a process for vetting keywords? I’d love to hear about it!

SEO Tips and Tricks: At some point in your writing career you'll be asked about finding keywords or SEO (search engine optimization). To be clear, SEO is a marketing skill, which writers may or may not have. So you're off the hook there. That said, it's a good idea to become acquainted with the concept as it will make you more valuable to your clients.

Paint-Sation Easel Set from Goliath Review

In my constant searching for great and unique crafts to do with my nieces, and to win and retain the title of “Best Auntie,” the Paint-Sation easel set from Goliath is in my top picks.

Paint-Sation Easel Set Review

Paint-Sation Easel Set Review

Not quite knowing what I was getting into, I called my nieces over to paint and dumped the contents of the Paint-Sation easel set onto the hardwood floor.

There weren’t many parts and setup was intuitive and painless. Apart from deciding which brush which child got to use (thankfully the set came with two!) and who got to paint upright on the easel and who got to paint on the floor, we were off and painting within a few minutes.

My biggest struggle was figuring out how the easel could stand best as the plastic pieces snap together just so and fell over a few times before I got it sturdy enough to paint on. In truth I wasn’t snapping it together firmly enough so it was a bit floppy. Once I sorted that out we were off to the races.

No-Spill Paint

The Paint-Sation easel set comes with three paint pods: red, yellow, blue. The girls thought this was more than enough and happily set to mixing everything together as soon as possible. While I was a bit sad for the primary colours, I was more excited to see how the no-spill paint claim held up. Without hovering TOO much I let the girls tip and tumble the paint pods around.

In truth, because the pods are so low to the ground there was never a time they were in danger of tipping so after a while I snapped the pods into place on the easel itself to see what happened. Nothing. The paint stayed put, just like they said it would. It was cool.

The set also comes with an initial paper supply, which I thought was a great addition and the girls thought was a painting challenge. Although they cranked out painting after painting, we didn’t get through the provided paper. But auntie has a lot of new art for her walls all the same.

Paint-Sation Easel Set by Goliath Product Description

Get ready to create with Paint-Sation! Each of the self-contained paint pods in the set includes 1.4 ounces of paint. Simply touch your brush along the specially-designed bristles, and you’re ready to paint. If you turn the pod upside-down, the paint won’t drip out! Moms and kids will agree—this paint is Paintsation-al.

In my constant searching for great and unique crafts to do with my nieces, the Paint-Sation easel set from Goliath is in my top picks.

Find the Paint-Sation Easel Set on Amazon.

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Letter from Masanjia [movie review]

Letter from Masanjia is a powerful documentary about an American who woman finds a letter from a prisoner in a Chinese labour camp in a package from a Halloween decoration. Her discovery sets off a chain reaction, which ends up shutting down the labour camp system in China.

Letter From Masanjia

Letter from Masanjia Social Justice Documentary

Growing up near the ocean, I often imagined discovering a washed-up message in a bottle. But I didn’t ever think the letter would be from someone imprisoned in a labour camp because of his religious beliefs.

The letter Julie Keith discovers in a Made-in-China tombstone decoration was from political prisoner Sun Yi. Held in China’s Masanjia labour camp, Sun Yi’s letter describes how he and the other prisoners are subjected to torture and brainwashing because of their belief in Falun Gong. After verifying the letter and the camp are legitimate, Julie Keith works to find someone who would listen. After several stalled attempts, Sun Yi’s story goes viral.

about falun gong

Falun Gong is a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline consisting of meditation and gentle exercises. Its core values are truthfulness, compassion and tolerance. In 1999, when the Chinese Communist Party outlawed Falun Gong, the goal was to eradicate the religion. Human rights groups estimate, at minimum, tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been sent to detention or worse. 

About the filming

Canadian filmmaker Leon Lee learned about Sun Yi when the letter went viral. Known as a Chinese dissident for his human rights work, Leon Lee reached out to his personal network of activists and dissidents in China to find the letter-writer. Three years into his search, the two connected. By this time, Sun Yi was released from the labour camp and eager for his story to reach a wider audience. The two formed a partnership and began filming.

Much of the documentary footage is taken by Sun Yi who learned how to use camera equipment over Skype from Leon Lee. For more than a year, Sun Yi films day-to-day life as a human rights defender in secret on a DSLR and iPhone. After shooting, he compressed and uploaded the footage to an encrypted site. Here, Leon Lee could retrieve the footage from across the Chinese firewall.

This is an incredible story of persecution, courage in the face of intense pressure and commitment to do the right thing no matter the personal cost.

Letter from Masanjia Synopsis

A woman in Oregon discovers an SOS note stashed in a box of Halloween decorations from Kmart. Her story goes viral and leads to the closure of China’s barbaric labour camps. News travels through China’s firewall and reaches the letter-writer, Sun Yi. A former Chinese prisoner who had been jailed for his beliefs, he now fears for his life and his family’s safety. Despite that, he’s determined to expose China’s human rights violations, whatever the cost.

In Letter from Masanjia, Sun Yi teams up with Peabody Award-winning director Leon Lee and takes you inside China’s terrifying police state through the eyes of a political prisoner. He uses hidden cameras to capture details of his torturous past while authorities remain hot on his heels. Letter from Masanjia reveals how the brave actions of a be-speckled engineer in China and a mom in the US led to major changes on the other side of the world.

OFFICIAL Trailer

On December 4, 2018, Letter from Masanjia was released by Gravitas Ventures and is available on iTunes, Amazon, Blu-Ray Disc, DVD, Tugg and Google Play.

Letter from Masanjia is a powerful documentary about an American woman who finds a letter from a prisoner in a Chinese labour camp in a Halloween decoration.

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