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Day 24: 30 Day Blog Writing Challenge – am I Mobile-Friendly?

Posted on : 26-02-2016 | By : admin | In : 30 Blog Writing Challenge

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Just a short blog today as the challenge was to check whether my blog would cope with being accessed through a mobile device.

HTC Desire Eye smartphone by Maurizio Pesce on Flickr CC

HTC Desire Eye smartphone by Maurizio Pesce on Flickr CC

I was writing a series of articles for a web developer a few years ago, and this was one of the articles I had to research and write. The overwhelming consensus of opinion when I was researching was that it was important for a website to be mobile (or accessed through a mobile device) and so when I had written the article, I looked into making my own website mobile too.

I am pleased to say that my website is still able to be viewed through a mobile device and that I can leave comments too. Sometimes you can learn a great deal from writing for a client!

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Day 23: 30 Day Blogging Challenge – 7 More Crazy Business Ideas

Posted on : 25-02-2016 | By : admin | In : 30 Blog Writing Challenge

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When I was digging through my archives, I found my first blog post on Crazy Business Ideas. I thought it would be great to update this article and check out some more crazy business ideas. Who would have thought that some of these ideas would make you money.

Doggles for military working dog by U.S.Army

Doggles for military working dog by U.S.Army

  1. Rent the Chicken

This business is for those people who are not sure whether they are cut out to be farmers or not. They can rent the chickens, feed and coop for a specified time, with the chickens guaranteed to be laying eggs within two days of arriving. There is the option to adopt the chickens if the prospective farmer falls in love with them. This company operates in the US only, although I believe there is also an Australia version!

2.  My Friend smells.com

This company will send scented cologne wipes anonymously from as little as $1.99 to those friends who smell a little stinky. Personally, I still prefer a good old fashioned conversation!

3.  Zombie Experiences

If you have ever wanted to spend your day being chased by zombies, then this is the website for you! This one is based in the UK. Interesting way to make money…

4.  I Do, Now I Don’t

The founder of I Do, Now I Don’t was dumped after a three month engagement. The jeweller he bought the ring from offered him less than half the amount he’d paid for it, so he set up his own website which enables people to sell their jewellery to other users. Simple idea, but a great success.

5. Chewy Jewellery

While she was on maternity leave, Jenny & Steve Mclaughlan had the idea of making a necklace that would be dafe for babies to chew on while they were teething. The concept has now been extended for children with sensory issues such as autism who still need to chew. The product is made to be non-toxic although it comes with a warning that fully developed teeth will eventually bite through the product, so parent supervision is recommended.

6. Doggles

These strange-looking goggles for dogs do have a serious purpose – they can help dogs who have developed eye disease and protect dogs’ eyes from sun damage. The makers of Doggles recommend training your dog to wear them and that they do not wear them indoors. Cool name!

7. WTF Prank Candles

For the person who has everything – or someone you don’t like, these candles begin by smelling sweet and then turn to more foul smells. Would you like a candle that changes from apple pie to dirty fart? How about from fresh forrest pine to skunk? I can’t believe these are selling – but I found the website!

If you enjoyed this article, then please share to social media.

What crazy businesses have you found? Please share in the comments below.

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Day 22: 30 Day Blogging Challenge – Third Week Review

Posted on : 25-02-2016 | By : admin | In : 30 Blog Writing Challenge

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Week 3 and I’m still here. I’m really glad that I took this challenge. Finding time to blog every day has not been easy, but I have managed to do it. Hopefully from here I can finish this challenge.

My public lands summer road trip by Bureau of Land Management Flickr CC

My public lands summer road trip by Bureau of Land Management Flickr CC

This week, I have:

  • continued to edit my story, looking at setting, plot, conflict and resolution, all of which are important parts of a story
  • Rewritten my ‘About’ page
  • Written up some of my testimonials which was quite nice to do
  • worked out how to use infographics and discovered a nice little free program to help me do it
  • finally set up that editorial calendar by adapting Sarah Arrow’s template
  • enjoyed reading and commenting on other blogs also taking part in the 30 day blogging challenge

This week, I am back into the full swing of school, college and work, so free time has been a little more limited. It is not always possible to post every day, but I am determined to have 30 blog posts by the time I have set myself.

This is what I have learned this week:

  • to keep chasing testimonials, because they are very nice to have. In the past, although I have asked for testimonials, clients sometimes forget to send them. I need to try and get them if I can.
  • I liked my ‘About’ page when I read it, but it did need some updating – apparently I last rewrote it about 3 years ago!
  • To keep finding time to blog – even small bits of time can be used productively if you are ready to go and know what you want to write.
  • initiating other calls to action rather than just inviting comments on the blog. I always try to ask a question for others to answer in the comments but asking for a social share was not something I had (embarrassingly) thought of!

Another week, another learning curve! Roll on Week 4!

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Day 21: 30 Day Blogging Challenge – Infographics

Posted on : 23-02-2016 | By : admin | In : 30 Blog Writing Challenge

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This blog has been challenged to make some infographics so I decided to have a go. The infographics package that was recommended was not suitable for me as I don’t have Java, so I have taken a look round to see what other possibilities there are.

I found Daniel Soper who offers a small infographics generator. You just copy and paste some text into the box and click the button to generate the infographic – couldn’t be simpler! I have had fun playing with it and this has been the results.

Here is the infographic for my ‘About’ page:

Free Infographic from http://www.danielsoper.com/wordcloud/

Free Infographic from http://www.danielsoper.com/wordcloud/

I had so much fun that I decided to try another one! Buy one, get one free!

A few years ago, I wrote a post on Crazy Business Ideas so I put that through the word cloud generator too:

http://www.danielsoper.com/wordcloud/

http://www.danielsoper.com/wordcloud/

I think I’m hooked!

If you have enjoyed this post, then please share to social media.

If you have made some great infographics, then let me know about them in the comments below.

 

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Day 20: 30 Day Blogging Challenge – Story Plot, Conflict & Resolution

Posted on : 22-02-2016 | By : admin | In : 30 Blog Writing Challenge

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On Day 11 and Day 12, I posted a short story for the purpose of showing you how I edit a story.  Here I finish my discussion of the story and will be talking about the plot, the conflict in the story and the resolution.

Paper and Pen by Orin Zebest on Flickr CC

Paper and Pen by Orin Zebest on Flickr CC

Plot

The plot is probably one of the most important parts of the story. The plot is all about what action actually takes place in the story. In the case of The House on the Hill, the answer is, “Not much!”

You could actually explain the story in a couple of sentences and everyone would understand what it was about, but it is the inner story – Joseph’s memories and the story of his friend that brings it to life. Short stories are often better if they contain some sort of ‘twist’ or surprise at the end that creeps up on the reader. This can be quite hard to do, as it can seem that pretty much every twist has been done to death.

As an example, I remember when the film, The Empire Strikes Back came out and that plot twist shocked audiences up and down the country – that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. It was pretty momentous and everyone was shocked. In those days, we didn’t have spoiler trailers like we do now. That was an absolutely amazing plot twist at the time which the makers of the film managed to keep secret until the film was actually released. However if a film was pitched today that had the villain turning out the be the hero’s father, it would be laughed at – what a cliche!

I’m not convinced that this plot holds up to scrutiny. I think it needs work to turn this into a good short story. I have to admit that I just sat down and wrote with the intention of pulling it apart so it’s not a problem. I know it needs more work. If it is going to have a twist, then it needs to be a better one that will surprise the reader.

Conflict

The story could not be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be exciting, but there is a certain tension created when Joseph starts feeling unwell. There is a sense that not all is well, but the estate agent is oblivious to anything but herself and the sale. The conflict could do with being built up more to bring a bit more action to the story. Joseph sees his memories of his lost childhood friend everywhere, in the faded photo, in his own memories of the incident that led to her death and even in the cry of the seagulls as he steps away from the house.

Resolution

Joseph has come with the intention of buying the house, but he finds too many memories and decides that the visit around his former friend’s house is enough. He will not be buying the house, but he does have a sense of closure as he leaves it.

Looking back through the story, I feel that it would need some rewriting to include more events happening to make the story more readable and interesting. The initial characters are good, but there needs to be more tension created between them and there needs to be a more definite conflict and resolution. At some point, I will rewrite the story and repost it, so you can see if it has improved at all.

If you have enjoyed this post, please comment below and share to your social media of choice. Thank you.

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Day 19: 30 Day Blogging Challenge – Short Story Setting

Posted on : 21-02-2016 | By : admin | In : 30 Blog Writing Challenge

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My blog posts on Day 11 and Day 12 were two halves of a short story, written quickly to use as an example for editing. Here, I would like to discuss setting.

Sea Cliff 2 by Mary Penny on Flickr cc

Sea Cliff 2 by Mary Penny on Flickr cc

The setting of a story discusses where the story takes place. In The House on the Hill, the action all takes place around an old empty house.

The House on the Hill is a house for sale on a cliff side. The house has clearly been loved, but now it is empty of people, although furniture remains. There is a photo that clearly brings back memories for Joseph as he goes back to look for it.

The house is described as:

  • mail swept from the floor – unlived in
  • coloured window panels and tiled floor in the hall
  • double fronted – so a large house (double fronted is when the house has a room either side of the front door)
  • 3 bedrooms
  • sea-facing lounge with high ceiling and carved plaster
  • faded wallpaper
  • furniture covered with dust sheets
  • threadbare rugs
  • furniture not wanted – if buyer does not want then will be put in a skip
  • old-fashioned Quaker kitchen with quarry tiled floor
  • water still connected
  • patio doors from kitchen leading to an ‘unruly’ i.e. overgrown garden
  • smallest bedroom – a girl’s room with girl’s books

There is quite a lot of information about the house, and one thing as author I need to check – that it does not conflict. The house seems to evoke a number of different eras and perhaps it might be better if it were all tied to one era, the one where Peggy died.

Setting also includes atmosphere. The story tries to be mysterious. Does it succeed? I’m not sure it does. It needs to decide if it wants to be a ghost story, a memoir or something else. The setting of the house needs some minor tweaks, but I need to decide exactly what kind of story it is going to be and perhaps add some more clues to enable the reader to follow along.

If you have enjoyed this blog post, then please share it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you.

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Day 18: 30 Day Blogging Challenge – Rewrite my ‘About’ Page

Posted on : 20-02-2016 | By : admin | In : 30 Blog Writing Challenge

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This is just a brief post so that I don’t have a day missing. My revised ‘About’ page can now be read by clicking on the ‘About’ tab at the top of the page.

I had rewritten it fairly recently so it hasn’t had too drastic a change. Some different formatting choices have taken place and I have updated the amount of time that I have been working as a freelance.

Feel free to check it out and comment below. Thanks.

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Day 17: 30 Day Blogging Challenge – Testimonials about my Work

Posted on : 18-02-2016 | By : admin | In : 30 Blog Writing Challenge

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What Others Say

I decided to go into freelance writing following a change in physical circumstances and a realisation that I needed something that meant I didn’t have to stand all day.

The happiest place on earth by Peter Dutton on Flickr CC

The happiest place on earth by Peter Dutton on Flickr CC

I have a steady but not spectacular stream of work and a supportive husband which enables me to keep freelancing. I have enjoyed talking to lots of different clients over the years but have only met 3 in person. I have always tried to ask for testimonials, but not everyone responds. However those who do are very kind and complimentary. My paid work is as a freelance copywriter, writing blogs, web content, product descriptions and anything else that my clients require. The variety of the job is the thing I love about it.

One of my first jobs was for a local website developer. I worked on blog posts and articles on a number of subjects. Lee Davies was a small business owner who built and developed websites local to me and he first asked me to do two articles – one on marble and one about granite. I asked him for a testimonial at the end of a job where he asked me to write some content for his new website and he kindly agreed:

“I have utilised the copywriting services of Sarah Charmley on numerous occasions, and have found that the standard of work has been excellent. Sarah has provided articles and web copy on a wide range of subjects, the content has been focussed and well thought out. Without exception, deadlines for the copy have always been met and in most cases arrived ahead of schedule. Highly Recommended.”

Lee Davies, WebPageOne Solutions Ltd

Thanks, Lee, I enjoyed working with you too. This recommendation has long graced my Portfolio page.

A number of people I have worked for, have never got around to putting pen to paper to give me a recommendation, although I usually try and ask. One who kindly did, has put a review up for me at freelancers.net:

Sarah has freelanced for us on a regular basis since the beginning of 2014 to create product descriptions for our ecommerce website. We have always found Sarah to be a diligent and speedy copywriter, who produces content to a consistently good standard. I would recommend Sarah without hesitation if you are looking for a reliable and good value freelancer.

Clare K.

I began by uploading product descriptions to the website, but was offered the job of social media manager for the website last year. I really enjoy the job, researching and writing regular blog posts on health and promoting them via social media.

I got some great praise about two months after I had started work. They had previously had an SEO company writing their blog posts for them, but they had to come up with the ideas for the posts. I research and write all the blog posts myself. I got this great praise passed on from their other director:

Btw our blogs are WAY better than before, i actually read half of them now, genuinely interesting…

To those of you out there who work with freelancers, if they ask you for a review, do take time to let them know you appreciate them – it can really make a freelancer’s day!

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Day 16: 30 Day Blogging Challenge – Halfway

Posted on : 17-02-2016 | By : admin | In : 30 Blog Writing Challenge

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Wow, suddenly it’s day 16 and I‘ve been blogging consecutively for 15 days! I’m really glad that I took up this challenge and I’m learning a lot from it.

April 2012 Art Challenge Tulips by COLOURED PENCIL magazine Flickr CC

April 2012 Art Challenge Tulips by COLOURED PENCIL magazine Flickr CC

So far I’ve learned:

  • that finding topics can be fun and that it’s important to choose a topic that I feel I can offer some information on
  • that I need to think about keywords more
  • that prioritising time to blog pays off in terms of the pleasure of seeing this blog grow and improving it with new content

This challenge has reminded me how much I do like blogging about my own subject (as opposed to writing blogs for clients) and that it is really pleasing to see the number of blog posts increase substantially. I also love getting emails each day.

Could do better:

  • need to set up that editorial calendar – I can see the benefit of it, but unfortunately it’s been a bit of a frustrating week at work. No excuses, though, should’ve done it!
  • Keep improving SEO. I use All-in-One SEO and I am finding that I understand it better so I can use it more effectively. I may investigate some other options when I have time, though.
  • it would be nice not to be blogging so late at night sometimes, but when you’re running other jobs alongside, better to blog late than not at all.

All these things will help me to blog more effectively and enable my blog posts to be found more easily when the challenge is over. It will also help me to continue writing blog posts more regularly.

What next?

  • I’m in the middle of a series of blog posts on writing a short story and editing it. I intend to continue that
  • Take some of Sarah’s email challenges. This is something I have not been so good at – usually because I already have some content in place
  • Try and be more organised with my blog posts

It’s amazing how fast the first half of this blogging challenge has gone. As I said, it has not been easy: I have had issues at work to contend with and this week the family have been around because of half term. However I am doing my best to keep blogging and I am determined to finish the challenge.

If you are reading this, thinking, ‘Shall I?’ then I would encourage you to sign up for the 30 day blogging challenge. Your blog will thank you for it.

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Day 15: 30 Day Blogging Challenge – Editing a Story – Characters

Posted on : 15-02-2016 | By : admin | In : Uncategorized

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On days 11 and 12 I published two halves of a story. This story was written for the purpose of showing you what I do when I edit. I have deliberately published a first draft, with very little editing apart from immediately spotting spelling mistakes etc so that you can see how it will change from first draft to the finished story.

Grungy girl in photo booth by simpleinsomniaWhen we are children, we write a story and it is done, but as adults, there is always polishing that can be done. Sarah (Arrow) has said that your blog posts don’t have to be perfect – no, they don’t, it is good if they are as close as you can make it in the time that you have.

Today, I’m going to focus on characters. In this story, there are two main characters: Janice Jones and Joseph. I don’t usually make all my characters in a story begin with the same name, but today, I have!

The characters are rather sketchily drawn – only small details about their appearance are mentioned in the story.

Janice:

  • smart and professional
  • has bright blue eyes

Her personality has a few more hints:

  • an estate agent – immediately conjures up a picture of suit and briefcase/laptop bag
  • has noted that the client is a cash buyer
  • purses her lips when annoyed but does not show anger
  • thinks of the money
  • finds Joseph a glass of water
  • Feet hurt – does this indicate high heels?
  • Needs a cup of coffee – addicted to caffeine?
  • mutters under her breath

Joseph

  • elderly gentleman

I am amazed that this is the only description of the appearance of Joseph, so I think I would add a few more details, but would try to make sure that they add to the story rather than just inform the reader.

His personality is:

  • a little impatient with Janice
  • Attuned to the house – he feels warm
  • has a funny turn where he seems to hear voices – twice
  • used to have family in the area
  • looking to buy in the area
  • cash buyer – so has some money
  • has memories of the house in happier times but also in sad
  • has lost his wife

So, there is more about Joseph’s personality than his appearance. This perhaps makes him a little mysterious which was probably my intention in the first place.

The final character in the story is Peggy. Her story is told in flashback and through a photograph that Joseph finds. She is a young girl who knew Joseph as a young boy. We know that she died young and that her death affected Joseph. The story ends with Joseph saying goodbye. Was he saying goodbye to the house, Peggy or both? The story leaves it to the reader to decide.

So to sum up, I need to edit:

– the characters need small details about their appearance adding

  • the details given need to add to the story
  • the details should be ‘shown’ rather than ‘told’
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