What I Learned About Blogging From the Naked Men in the Trunk of My Car

 

After dropping my Army husband off at work, I made my way toward the gate of the base to head home.

There was a lineup of slowly moving cars waiting to exit through the partially closed gate.

There must be some kind of threat, I thought, as I drove slowly toward the gate.

I Need to See Your ID

Just as I was about to reach the gate, a soldier dressed in camouflage jumped in front of my car, with his hand up, clearly ordering me to stop.

A moment later, another solider approached the driver’s side of the car.

“I need to see your ID,” the soldier calmly stated.

“Sure thing,” I replied, as I reached for my purse, pulled out my military dependent ID card and handed it to him.

By Order of the Base Commander. . .

“By order of the base commander, you need to exit your vehicle,” he informed me.

I got out of the car and stood on the side of the road and watched as one soldier searched my glove compartment, and two other soldiers looked through the trunk of my car, before giving me permission to leave.

Later that Day. . .

A bit later that day, I went back on base to go to the commissary.

“Here, let me get the trunk,” I said to the bagger who had helped me to my car with my groceries.

As I opened the trunk, I gasped, when I saw stacks of photos on canvas of naked, emaciated men.

Shocked, I quickly flipped the photos over, hoping the bagger hadn’t seen them.

My Husband Had Some Explaining to Do

“Honey, why are there photos of naked men in the trunk of our car?!?” I asked, as soon as my husband answered the phone.

“Oh, those were for a Holocaust display I was working on, but I decided not to use them because I thought they might be too disturbing.”

No kidding.

And Then I remembered. . .

The soldiers who had inspected my car. No wonder they spent so much time looking at what was in the trunk.

How embarrassing.

Hidden Things

What I learned through that experience is that when we least expect it, our “trunk” may be searched, and our secrets that appear to be safely hidden away, will be exposed.

The lesson in this for bloggers is that if you’re less than ethical in the content you create, you’ll eventually be found out. And embarrassed. . . or worse.

Are any of these shameful things hidden in the posts on your blog?

  • Plagiarized Content

I’ll be the first to admit that it can be hard to come up with compelling content on a regular basis. It takes time. And effort. And there’s so much content out there already. . . why not just borrow a bit of it? You know, grab something and change a few words here and there. Who would ever know?

Hmmm. . .

  • Fabricated stories

Some bloggers write about hard things. Horrific things. Tales of abuse. Others write about inspiring things, heroic feats that warm the heart.

Blogging opens up the opportunity for everyone to share about the events of their lives, and often this sharing helps to bring hope, healing, and inspiration to others.

But some bloggers make things up.

  • Exaggerated accomplishments

The about page on your site should tell people about who you and your company are, not who you wish you were.

Though you don’t have to tell people you dropped out of high school, if that was your reality, don’t pretend to have an advanced degree.

Or maybe you won a writing contest in the third grade. That doesn’t make you an award-winning author.

It’s fine to write about aspirations, as long as it’s clear that’s what you’re doing, but in order to avoid embarrassment and loss of credibility in the future, cut the crap. Write the truth. Be honest about who you are and what you’ve done.

If you’re honest on your blog, you’ll never have to be embarrassed about what your readers might discover in your trunk

Your Turn

How have, or would you respond if you discovered a blogger you admired was less than honest on his blog?

How to Deal with Blogging Distractions

EzineArticles Cartoon

Blogging distractions. We all have them, but only some of us have overcome them. (Disclaimer: I still get distracted at times, so I’m not claiming perfection here!)

Here are a few tips that I’ve found to help me overcome blogging distractions.

 

One of the most interesting tips that I’ve come across recently for getting rid of blogging distractions was to:

Turn off the computer monitor.

 

That’s kind of like writing blind! Though it sounds a little crazy, this is a great tip if you tend to get distracted by everything else on your computer, or if you have a tendency to spend too much time editing as you go.

If you can’t really even see what you are writing, then how in the world will you be distracted by typos or by the temptation to go back through and edit everything as you write?

I haven’t tried this approach myself because from what I can see, there is no way to turn off my monitor, but as I’m writing this post, I’m making every effort not to look at what I’m writing and to just write as fast as I can.

Obviously, you’ll want to turn back on your monitor to be able to proofread your blog post before publishing!

Turn off the Internet.

 

Okay, now this I can do.  One of my biggest distractions while writing is the temptation to check my email, Facebook, and other things.

To some degree I have an excuse in that I do private client work and that is indeed how I pay my bills. Because of that, I like to be available to my clients throughout the day.

What I’ve found to be a good compromise is to spend a couple of hours in the morning reading through client emails and taking care of what needs to be done immediately. Once I have those pressing concerns out of the way, I log out of email and Facebook, and put my nose to the grindstone and write for a couple of hours.

All of my clients know how to get ahold of me quickly when needed, and so far no one has complained if I get back to them on something a couple of hours later. This makes a huge difference in my overall ability to get things done, since I’m not allowing myself to be interrupted multiple times while I’m writing.

Participate in Writing Marathons.

 

Today I’m participating in a virtual blog writing day hosted by my friend, Denise Wakeman. I plan to write about it in a future blog post, so for now I’ll just say that I’ve set today aside as a writing day, and have specific writing goals I’m attempting to accomplish during this day.  I have accountability, and times when I’m checking in with others on my progress.

Though I can’t devote all day, every day to writing, doing it occasionally is a great way for me to crank out a good amount of content in a single day. Having that content done and ready to go is a great way to get me ahead of schedule with my blog, rather than writing by the seat of my pants like I normally do.

Your Turn

What are some of your biggest blogging distractions, and what do you do to overcome them?

How To Write Blog Posts On The Go

plan your blog posts

Successful blogs start with a plan.

Plan your content first

If you’re serious about blogging you probably know that you need to have an Editorial calendar on which you plan out your content in advance. I use a WordPress Plugin called WP Editorial Calendar but you can also schedule your content on your Outlook calendar or an Excel Spreadsheet. Doesn’t matter how you do it, matters that you do it !

So when you have planned out your content, you know in advance what topics you will write about. Now you just have to find the time to do it …

Find the time to write


“I don’t have time” that’s probably the most common answer to the “Why don’t you blog?” question. Yes, it does take time to write regular blog posts. But with practice you will notice that you’ll get faster & faster.

And – you don’t need to be sitting in front of your computer, in your office, to blog. Nowadays almost everyone has some type of mobile device: a tablet, an iPhone or something similar. Take advantage of this new technology: when you’re on the train, on the plane or waiting for a delayed meeting… These are all perfect opportunities to gather ideas or write the outline for your next post

Get the right tools

As I said, you probably already have some type of mobile device. Now you just need the right applications.

Here are a two must haves:

Windows Live Writer for Windows & Mars Edit for Mac are two desktop blog editing softwares. Windows Live Writer comes with Windows for free and Mars Edit costs 39.95 after a free 30 day trial.

Evernote helps you save your thoughts and ideas and makes it easy to stay organized and productive. Read this great post from Michael Hyatt on “How to use Evernote as a Blogger”.

Write the outline on the go

blogging on the go

If this guy can find time to blog, anyone can!


So once you installed either Windows Live Writer or Mars Edit, you can easily open these programs and start writing your outline on the go. You already have the topic, since you planned that in your Editorial Calendar. Now start with the headlines, sub-headlines & then fill in the paragraphs. Don’t worry about the look and formatting, you’ll deal with that once you’re back in the office. Just focus on writing the content. If you get distracted be surrounding noise, get yourself a headset and listen to some nice music.

Finalize the post at home

Then, when you get back home, you’ll take that post and copy it into your blog. You could even publish it directly on the blog (as a draft) but I usually just copy paste. Now is the time to give your post the final touches: some formatting, adding a picture (that you saved to Evernote on the go) & proof-reading it a couple of times. And when you’re happy with the post, hit the “publish” button.

Your Turn

I’m curious: are you already blogging on the go or will you try this out next time you’re sitting on a plane or watching the kids’ swimming class ?

013: Motivational Minute[audio]: Blogging Baby Steps

Transcript:

Hello everyone, thanks so much for joining me for this week’s motivational minute. I’m your host, Rebecca Livermore from ProfessionalContentCreation.com.

Today I want to talk to you about the importance of taking baby steps with your blog. I got the concept of baby steps from a woman named FlyLady, and for those of you who don’t know, she is someone who helps primarily women who have a hard time keeping their housework under control and getting their house in shape. She introduced me to the concept of baby steps.

What that means is that she starts people off with one simple little thing that they need to do, and that is shine their sink every single day. That’s their one task they need to focus on first.

How this relates to blogging is that it’s important to take baby steps so that you don’t get overwhelmed with your blog. So, for example, your baby step may be something simple such as writing one short blog post a week and that’s all that you do until you get very, very good at that.

So just think about how you can incorporate the concept of baby steps into your blog and once you get that down, you can go even further. I know that once you do that, you’ll be glad you did.

Your Turn

Have you every allowed yourself to feel overwhelmed by your blogging goals? What one simple baby step have you done or could you do to make blogging less overwhelming?

How Blogging Will Help You Write a Successful Book

 

blogging to help your book be successful

Blogging is a great way to figure out what people are interested in reading.

Blogging is one of the best ways to write your way to a successful book. In this post, I’m not talking about  How to Blog a Book, though that is certainly a great thing to do, but rather how blogging itself can help you become a successful author.

Blogging Can Help You Fail Faster

None of us like failure, but it happens to all of us, so we may as well get it out of the way as quickly as possible!

Think about the hours and hours – often months or years – that go into writing a book. Think about what it would be like to spend all that time and then find out that absolutely no one was interested in it, or that you wrote things that were. . . dumb. You know, things that perhaps you hadn’t thought through as well as you should have, or hadn’t researched quite well enough. Maybe you were convinced they were right, and hadn’t really heard the opposing view.

Blogging will both help you to find out if people are interested in what you have to say, and will also provide some helpful criticism that may cause you to dig a bit deeper into a topic or perhaps ditch certain points altogether if you find out they aren’t really valid.

Blogging Gets You Into the Habit of Writing

The writing habit  can be hard to come by, and some people who set out to write a book never manage to get it done.

Though blogging and book writing both take discipline,  it’s a lot less overwhelming to think in terms of writing short blog posts a few times a week than it is to have an entire book that needs to be written staring you in the face.

Some people shut down when faced with an enormous task such as writing a book. Blogging is a great way to reduce the overwhelm, and get you into the habit of writing. Once that habit is developed, it will be easier to use the discipline you’ve developed as a blogger to write a book.

Blogging Helps Build Your Platform

Whether you self-publish or go with a traditional publisher, you’ll need a platform. Blogging is one of the best ways to build a platform so that when you’re ready to launch your book, it will be successful.

Your Turn

Those are just three ways that blogging can help you become a successful book author. Can you think of any others? Do you have a blog, and if so, have you ever thought about using your blog posts to write a book?

Keeping An Open Mind When Looking For and Creating Content

 

content creation keep an open mind

It’s important to keep an open mind when looking for and creating content.

In college my professors always stressed quality over quantity.  While I generally tend to share their position, in the content driven world of search engine optimization and Google rankings, there is much to be said for quantity.  Of course you want to make sure the content you produce is of good quality, but sometimes we can fine tune and refine to the point that we either give up or a time sensitive report is old news.

I work primarily in the offroad powersports industry covering events, product releases and the occasional contest or exhibition.  While I typically enter each event with a specific purpose, I try to maintain an open mind and a watchful eye for additional stories or situations that could be developed into meaningful content for my own use or for a client of mine.

By the same token, you never know what opportunity might present itself or the ensuing door that might open, offering perhaps bigger and better opportunities.  One of the most meaningful for me started as a simple highlight reel for a friend and lead to providing content for ESPN’s action sports blog.

A rather well known and recognized friend of mine called me one afternoon and expressed his interest in putting together a video clip.  He had just won a medal at the X Games (think Olympics for actions sports athletes) for his performance in a motorcycle event.  I was happy to help him though I didn’t see it going much farther than YouTube along with our personal websites.

We shot the interview which turned out to be around fifteen minutes long so I broke it up into three shorter video clips.  I realize capturing a viewer’s attention for that length of time is unlikely so I decided to create an inspiring “teaser” clip that would capture the essence of the interview and condense it to about three minutes

I was satisfied with the outcome and after uploading it to YouTube I thought I’d send it to an editor contact I had at ESPN.com.  I had been trying to open the door to contribute to their action sports blog for over a year and I thought it was worth a shot to see if it was something they could use.

Shortly after sending it I received a rather excitable reply saying that this was exactly the type of content they were looking for.  Although they wouldn’t use this particular clip, he encouraged me to submit ideas for future videos or stories that I felt might be of interest to them.

I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of the situation.  The reason they had declined all of my previous attempts or ideas was that I offered no credibility.  While I had dropped a few names and provided work samples, nothing was impressive enough to prove that I actually worked with some of the biggest names in the sport.  This video clip changed that and proved to him that I wasn’t just a hopeful kid with a video camera.

That simple video I put together, for free, ended up yielding great dividends in the months to come.  I had several opportunities to contribute content and even serve as an on camera host interviewing other top industry professionals, not to mention adding ESPN to my resume.

As you likely know all to well, companies are starving for relevant, current content and are willing to pay for it.  You may be an expert on a subject but if companies don’t know you exist or what you’re capable of, it’s unlikely that they’ll be seeking you out.  If you’re in the business of creating content for others and are looking for some new clients, try to be proactive in offering your services and finding out what their needs are.

Opportunities abound if you’re willing to search for them and not be afraid to take some chances.  I try to maximize every event I attend by gathering as much content as possible.  Even if I don’t use it right away, I have archives of footage and photos that can I can pull from in the future or use for other projects that might develop down the road.  You just never know when one seemingly small “favor” might turn into something huge.

 Your Turn:

Have you ever produced an article or a video that had a much greater impact than you had initially expected or opened a door that lead to even greater opportunities?

012 Motivational Minute [audio]: Be Yourself

Transcript: Hello everyone, thanks so much for joining me for this week’s Motivational Minute. I’m your host, Rebecca Livermore from ProfessionalContentCreation.com.

Today I want to talk to you about the importance of being yourself.

A big mistake that we as bloggers often make is looking at bloggers that appear to be more successful than we are and wishing that we were like them, wishing we could have their success, and we can get so hung up on that that we lose sight of the special gifts and abilities and passion that we have, that no one else really has. So today I want to encourage you to simply be yourself.

Embrace who you are, be content with who you are, and focus on being the very best that YOU can be rather than worrying about being like someone else. I know that once you do that, you’ll be glad you did.

Your Turn:

Are you sometimes tempted to compare yourself with other bloggers? How do you find the balance between learning from and being inspired by other bloggers without feeling down on yourself? Leave me a comment below to share your thoughts on this subject.

How to Come Up With Blog Post Ideas Using Almost Any Object

how to come up with blog post ideas

What do cars have to do with blogging? A lot, actually. It’s all a matter of how you look at things.

When I’ve polled people to find out their biggest blogging challenges, a common problem that people have is coming up with ideas of what to blog about.

The good news is, when it comes right down to it, blog post ideas are everywhere we look, including every day objects.

Here are some tips for finding blog post ideas using almost any object you see at any given time.

 

1. Pick an object, ANY object.

Don’t think too long and hard about it — just select any object that pops into your head, or that you see in front of you.

2. Jot down the parts of the object.

As an example, a car has tires, a steering wheel, brakes, mirrors, an engine, etc.

3. Make a quick list of what the object is used for.

Again, using a car as an example, a car is used to transport people. It could be used to get you to work, to take a vacation, to go visit a friend, etc.

4. Jot down problems associated with the object.

Car problems include things such as costing money, breaking down, potentially causing damage to object and injury to people, etc.

5. Then list out all of the possible ways that what you’ve written above relates to your topic.

Whatever you do, in this step have an open mind, even if you think that the object you’ve chosen doesn’t relate to your topic at all.

To prove it to you, I’ll continue on using car as an example, and please note that I have NO idea where I’m heading with this, but I’m so confident that any object will work, I’m willing to experiment in front of you.

Car Parts and How They Relate to Blogging

Steering wheel:

  • What direction are you heading with your blog?
  • How to know it’s time to change the direction of your blog

Brakes

  • What is slowing down the progress of your blog?
  • Things you need to stop doing in order for your blog to succeed.

Safety Belts

  • 5 WordPress plugins to protect your blog
  • How to keep your blog from being hacked
  • How to avoid blogger burnout

Engine

  • How to fuel blog post ideas
  • How to give your blog a tune up

The Body of a Car

  • Sleek blog design elements
  • Blog themes that will turn heads

Horn

  • Ways to get people to notice your blog without annoying the crap out of them

I could keep going and come up with numerous ideas using each of the starter ideas above, but I think that you most likely already have the idea, and can apply this same type of thinking related to any object to your own niche.

And remember, when I started this blog post, I had NO idea how cars related to blogging. That’s how easy it is to generate blog post ideas using any object.

Your Turn

In fact, right now it’s your turn to do just that. Without thinking too long and hard about it, in the comment section below, jot down a few ideas of how cars relate to your niche. (Be sure to tell us your niche!)  If you niche is blogging, like mine is, feel free to expand on what I’ve written above. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

You May as Well Give Up on Your Blog

you may as well quit your blog

Many people have told me over the years that I have the gift of encouragement. But today I’m telling you that you may as well give up on your blog IF. . .

You Aren’t Committed to Posting Regularly

Posting content regularly means different things to different people. For instance, some bloggers post every single day or even multiple times per day and some post only a couple of times per month. Though I recommend posting at least once a week, you’ve got to figure out what “regularly” means to you and then stick with it as much as possible.

You’re in it Solely for Money

Money is good. I like money. I need money. And so do you. But money in and of itself is not the best blogging motivator, particularly since it can take a good long while to make money blogging. So while having financial goals connected to your blog is a good thing, the purpose for your blog has to go deeper than money.

You’re Focused Completely on Yourself

 

Give up on your blog if you're focused only on yourself

No one likes the guy who does nothing but stares into the mirror all day, impressed by how amazing he is.

Let’s face it; most if not all of us are self-focused at times. I know I am. But I also know that not that many people care about me without me caring about them first. This seems to be even truer online, so if your blog is completely self-serving, you may as well give up on it because it won’t be effective.

You’re Impatient

As the old adage goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your blog be built in a day or a week, or a month. You may be getting there in a year, and you should be able to see bits of progress along the way, but if you are the type to give up quickly when you don’t get instant results, then you may as well give up on your blog.

The bottom line is that you may as well give up on your blog if you don’t have the right mindset needed to succeed as a blogger. As my friend Ryan Hanley writes, “the mental game of blogging is what separates winners from losers.”

Now that I’ve given you a mental tongue lashing, I’ll revert back to my encouraging self and say that I really and truly hope that you won’t give up on your blog, because I know that blogging is one of the best ways to build your business.

Your Turn

What are some other reasons why people should give up on their blogs? Do you disagree with anything I’ve written above? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave me a comment below.

7 Tips for Writing Blog Posts Faster

Writing consistently will help you to create blog posts faster.

Writing consistently will help you to create blog posts faster.

1.  Write consistently.

One of the best ways to improve in anything is to do it consistently. Writing is certainly no exception. The more you do it, the better you’ll get and the faster you’ll get at it.

2.  Stop trying to be perfect.

While there are times when it makes a lot of sense to slave over a blog posts and spend hours and hours on it, if you do that all the time, you’ll seldom publish blog posts and eventually give up.

Don’t make yourself crazy by trying to be perfect. Instead, work on creating quality content in short periods of time

3.  Develop blogging routines.

There’s something about routines of any type that remove much of the thinking that has to happen when you do something. If you always start your blogging time with a specific routine, you’ll get your mind into blogging mode each time you start that routine.  It’s as if routines click your brain into action, and help you spend less time trying to get into the blogging groove.

4.  Use blogging templates.

Blogging templates don’t have to be anything fancy. They can be as simple as article outlines that you use for each blog post you write. For instance, you may have a format for the title, an introduction, a paragraph for 3-5 main points, and a conclusion.

Use a timer to help you write blog posts faster

Use a timer to help you write blog posts faster.

5.  Use a timer.

I find that playing a game of “beat the clock” can help me write blog posts faster. For instance, if I determine that I only have 30 minutes to write a blog post, I tend to focus harder and write faster.

I may need to go back later and edit the blog post a bit, but the hard work of the first draft can be done in a short amount of time that I allot, such as 30 minutes.  I find that if I allot more time, I take more time.

This may be true of you also, and if that is the case, try gradually reducing the amount of time you allot until you find you can’t go any lower and still write a decent blog post.

6.  Keep a steady stash of blog post ideas on hand.

A lot of time can be wasted if you start off your blogging time without a clue what you’re going to write about. That can’t be helped sometimes, but if you have a list of blog post titles all ready to go, you can hit the ground running rather than start off by staring at a blank Word document.

7.  Increase your typing speed.

I’m a fast typist, and that is one of the primary ways I can write blog posts fast. While not everyone has the capacity to be a super-fast typist, most everyone has the capacity to type faster than they do right now.

This may happen naturally if you simply make a commitment to write every day, or you can invest in a typing program to increase your typing speed. Any time you invest now will pay off in the form of being able to write blog posts a lot faster down the road, so a commitment to increasing your typing speed will pay off in the long run.

Your Turn:

What are your tips for writing blog posts faster?