What’s Bloglovin?

WordPress is wonderful. I love how easy it is to keep up with one another on here. Good job with that, WordPress. Props.

Occasionally though… and I mean just whenever I happen to go online…which of course is very infrequently because I’m such a disciplined writer… I come across a blog that I really like, hosted on some other site. Rendering it impossible to lump into my WordPress reading traffic.

And as much as I love getting email, there are only so many blog updates I can sign up to receive before it gets kind of sad. You know, where you eagerly check your inbox and find a handful of spam nestled amongst newsletters, sales alerts, and other messages generated by robots.

Enter: Bloglovin’ – a simple solution for the busy blog reader who also wants to keep their inbox free for meaningful communication of a non-automatically generated nature.

If you, dear reader, are similarly inclined, you may now follow my intermittent scribblings by starting an account (they won’t email you unless you specifically require them to) and typing ‘Traveling Screenwriter’ into the Search box.

Similarly, you can claim your own blog and I’ll be able to follow you there.

And I hope you like it.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Day 14: Get Social – Google Edition

Day 13 of Robert Brewer’s 30-day writing platform challenge was to link your blog post in Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I did that already. So let’s spring ahead to another online socialization exercise.

Day 14: Start a Google+ account

This has been on my to-do list for months, but frankly the idea of keeping up with one more social network is daunting. Not to mention the unsettling pervasiveness of Google… when your search engine knows who you are and essentially links your online activity with a variety of services, things can get a little creepy. Perhaps I will just give up the illusion of authenticity and just blatantly self-promote.

So why do I feel like I’m being absorbed into a cult?

Well, it’s done now… trouble is, I don’t know anyone on Google+

Except Robert Brewer. Following! Anyone else?

Day 12: Encourage Conversation

A good hostess knows how to keep a conversation going. She presents a topic and invites comments.

That’s sort of like what we do as bloggers – unlike authors, whose work is done and separate from their person, a blogger is right in the midst of their creative work. We draw readers in and encourage them to stay and participate. Interact, if you will, with our writing.

Today’s exercise from Robert Brewer’s platform-building challenge hinges on the second half of this relationship.

Day 12: Write a blog post and a call to action

In which a ‘call to action’ is an opportunity to connect via social media or previous blog posts. Offering readers other ways to engage, beyond this one post that may have randomly popped up in their feed reader. It’s another way of communicating, “Come on in, take your shoes off, have a drink. Make yourself comfortable and tell me about yourself.”

Sit down and visit for a spell.

To read more about Robert Brewer’s writing challenge, and how I was enticed to follow along, take a look at my first post on Day 1: Get Back in the Box

I’d love to have you come see me in the Twitterverse, Facebookland, or LinkedInville.

Twitter: @cortneywrites

Facebook: Cortney Writes

LinkedIn: Cortney Matz

Any thoughts about this post? Leave a comment and join the conversation!

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Day 11: More Sharing

Sharing buttons again! But today we won’t be encouraging others to share our posts – instead, we’ll be sharing posts we like and want to pass along to anyone who may be reading.

Day 11: Find a helpful article and share it with your social network

Technically I have been doing this every day for the last 10 days, since every post I write in this challenge begins with Robert Brewer’s 30-day challenge. But in the spirit of the challenge, I welcome a new opportunity to build platforms and grow in writerly wisdom.

Robert’s reasoning is good; with all this platform-building, it’s easy to take our social networks for granted as a collection of eyes that we must continually put our content in front of. Today is a reminder that our people are well-rounded connoisseurs of content, with a palate for everything from dancing babies to economic projection infographics. Let’s share good stuff of all kinds, not just what we’ve generated ourselves.

Of course, we are still platform-builders, so being a bit strategic in what we share is called for. I’m building a platform to do with writing and storytelling. Specifically, I seem to have drawn a following of writers looking to connect about writing. So I want to share an article that will be helpful to this particular crowd of mine.

To that end, I found a very interesting article in Writer’s Digest’s e-newsletter today. My task is to share it on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (at minimum – linking to it here is going a bit extra).

I was drawn to Brian Klem’s article, 7 Tips for Turning Your Blog into a Book, because I want to do just that. Blogging is an exploratory exercise, and I’ve discovered several story ideas as I’ve typed away at WordPress the last couple years. Maybe not novel material, but certainly a short e-book could be cobbled together from my Except When It Rains series of fiction and also last year’s road trip travelogue.

If you have a blog, there’s a high likelihood there’s a book in there somewhere—or at least the beginning of one. Don’t let that book go to waste. Turn your blog into a book, or “book it,” as author and book designer Joel Friedlander likes to say. Repurpose your blog content into a book.

Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Please enjoy these helpful thoughts on blogging with a book in mind, or mining your blog for book content. I definitely did.

Day 10: Finding Yourself

We made it to Day 10, y’all! Ten down, twenty to go – and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m 1/3 of the way through Robert Brewer’s challenge to writers, helping us build a writing platform over 30 days.

Today’s task is not about going to Europe or quitting your job to eat/pray/love. No, this job involves a much more defined search. As in Google.

Day 10: Do a Search on your Name

Starting with Google, then Bing and Yahoo, followed by several other options for extra credit.

It’s handy in times like these to have a unique name – there appears to be only one other Cortney Matz on the internet, and her web presence consists of a Twitter account. I, on the other hand, have fairly saturated the internet with websites, social media profiles, video accounts, and press releases. Google returned about 6 pages of links related to me in some capacity before I started hitting redundancies.

Did you know that your comments on blogs and Facebook pages will appear in searches? I guess it makes sense – they are public forums. I’m glad to say I’ve never posted anything I’m ashamed to see turn up in a search. But still, it’s a little strange to find a story I wrote in 1998 showing on page 4 of my Google search.

For the most part, my results were unsurprising. My website came up first, followed by my LinkedIn profile and Twitter account. Only Bing listed my Scribbles blog, though – and that was nowhere near the top of the list. I guess I have some optimization to do for this puppy!

All three search engines pegged me with MySpace on the first page! MySpace, for crying out loud. An account I started years ago and haven’t done a blessed thing with since. It’s kind of embarrassing if anyone actually clicks through – I only have one friend, and it’s Tom, the came-with-the-account friend.

Like I said, didn’t do anything with it. I guess I should delete it.

Anyone know how long it takes for webprints to disappear…?

Day 9: Tweet Back

I don’t know many of the people I follow on Twitter, so oftentimes I feel I’m tweeting into a vast abyss with no guarantees that anyone will see – let alone care about – what I wrote. So the occasional response I get is hugely gratifying.

Wouldn’t we love to give that gratification to our fellow tweeps? Oh, good.

Day 9: Respond to at least three people on Twitter

So, I hopped on Twitter and wrote back to the first three posts I saw:

@DannyManus Lazy Saturday takes on a whole new meaning when it’s doctor ordered.
@cortneywrites Did it ruin it for you?

@WritersDigest Writing retreat on the Greek isle of Ithaca this summer
@cortneywrites *drooling*

@ASouthernYankee Today I discovered that if you argue with the groceries in your shopping cart, the checkout line magically clears.
@cortneywrites Nice

There they are. My responses. Tweeted them right out into the abyss. No acknowledgment of said tweets has been made in the last 13 minutes, but that’s okay. You know, my readers. You know it all.

If it were easy to build a platform, everyone would do it. At least I have 94 followers, even if they don’t always read my tweets. I guess that is the reason we keep writing… so we have something to engage readers with once we’ve pulled them all together.

Day 8: Get Linked In

More social media! Facebook: check. Twitter: check. LinkedIn… up next.

Day 8: Create a LinkedIn profile

Robert doesn’t have a lot to say about LinkedIn, other than to recommend getting on it, and then he asked for advice from readers. In my experience, LI is one networking site that seems to have a split opinion. Half the people love it and extoll the multitudinous ways for industrious folk to do business by connecting with friends of friends and answering questions about which they have expertise. The other half is there because they feel they should be.

But now what?

I’ve been on LinkedIn for a few years, and have taken the time to fill out my profile pretty completely. I have 129 connections, 5 endorsements for my work, and when I have new episodes of the chocolate show I post links there.

I’ve connected with a few folks I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and had one interesting email from a cable station (which didn’t go anywhere), but otherwise it’s been a pretty dry fount.

I’m sure it is beneficial for the sake of legitimacy to have a profile on LinkedIn. It’s kind of an online resume with accountability from all your connections to back it up. Plus there are lots of professional groups to participate in, and new job opportunities within your network are emailed to you regularly.

All that to say, I’m on the fence.

Any thoughts? Have you played with LinkedIn and found it a helpful tool? Let us discuss.

Join the link!

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Day 7: Facilitate Free Publicity

When God created the world, he rested on the seventh day. That’s sort of what I’m doing with the writing challenge, because all I had to do today was copy and paste.

Behold, I have buttons! Look to your right – just slightly to the right of this post, top of the sidebar. See it? Share buttons! This is today’s accomplishment.

Day 7: Add Share Buttons to your blog or website

Share buttons are basically free PR. Who hasn’t read an article or blog post and posted it on Facebook or emailed it to a friend? Who wouldn’t love to have their article or blog post circulated voluntarily by readers via the world wide web?

I have a love/hate relationship with share buttons. They always turn out looking funky, and some javascript varieties can go berzerk and take over your entire screen. Yet when you have those moments where you think, “This is great, I should pass it on to so-and-so,” the share button is hard to beat for ease and efficiency.

Thank you Robert Brewer, for opening my eyes to the Add This button! SO easy. It literally worked on the first try.

All you do is go to addthis.com and click the ‘Get the Code’ button, choose the format you want (little buttons? big buttons?) and which kind of blog/website you are working with. They’ll walk you through the rest. Once you have your buttons installed, then it’s time to play. If you want to have your mind blown, click the + button. Up pops eleventy-seven options for social media sites on which you may share.

Okay, it’s actually 321 social media sites, but still… who knew there was such a wide world of sharing beyond Facebook, Twitter and Google?

Go get it, you won’t be sorry.

Quick shout-out to new followers, JordanForty, DiniAndrianiPotas (I can’t read a word of your blog, but your photos are lovely!), Ooa Revo, Tali Norfali, Anna, and MonaD’E! I look forward to getting to know you all as we blog together and build our platforms.

Thanks also to Kirk, who suggested adding Share buttons at the end of each blog post… that is a bang-up idea.

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Day 6: Mingle

In case you’re just joining us, I’m a few days into Robert Brewer’s writing challenge, encouraging us to take steps every day for 30 days toward building a platform and developing your following.

It’s been a smashing experience so far, and I’m pretty excited to carry on.

Day 6: Read a Blog and Comment on it

A reasonable suggestion. Where to begin?

Since I blog primarily about stories, fiction, travel, and my personal experience with all those things, it seemed smart to look for other blogs with a similar focus. When I laid eyes on MORFIS, I knew my search was over.

MORFIS is a collection of art, illustrations, photography and design that takes you to another place. Browsing around the virtual gallery, I found myself smiling involuntarily. The imagination spread across the digital pages is really something. I was drawn in.

But it isn’t enough to visit a blog and merely appreciate it. We are to leave evidence of our appreciation.

I was hard pressed to choose, but I settled on a post depicting illustrations by Dan May, a highly detailed fine artist in Chicago. Take a peek at the blog and see what you think – I was quite inspired, and may even come up with some new stories based on what I saw. You can see Dan’s photos (and my comment) here.