Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Top Tips for Building a Successful Blog from a Blogger of Two... By Dioni Zhong of Wandering Mee and

I've been blogging for years, and before that I was working on a number of personal websites for more years. Today I have a mature book blog (5+ years) and a travel blog (1 year), both of which have given me many perks, from getting tons of free books, invited to stage plays/shows/exhibition, to generating revenue, so I like to think that I know a thing or two about building a successful blog and here are my top tips:

1. Pick a topic you can talk about foreverMany people are not too sure what blog they should be writing about. Though you can have personal blog for just family and friends, to have a specific topic that you have most interest in, the one you can talk about all day long, all year long and more, would bring your blog to another level and a much wider audience - readers with common interest. Also that way you will never run out of ideas!

2. Be consistent. Another pitfall that new bloggers often fall into is getting really excited at the beginning but declining very rapidly in the few weeks or months that follow. I assure you there would be a period of time when you feel like nobody is reading and what is the point of it all, but if you push through you will finally start to build your audience. Consistency is key.

3. Join the CommunityNo man is an island, and it also applies to blogging. It is important to build relationship with fellow bloggers in your area. Start by visiting other websites and dropping by comments. Respond to comments on your own blog. Use social media channels to help you advertise yourself/your blog/your brand (twitter is probably the most useful at the beginning, but there's no harm at having a Facebook page too).

4 Concentrate on providing quality content that you loveThere are many things that can distract you from doing your own blog, from the hustle and bustle of social media to the pressure of building stats to thinking too much about what other people want you to write. Having your readers in mind is good to a point, but thinking too much about it could be too tiring. Instead of always following what the other people are writing/doing, it pays to be original and different. There's often strong tendency to follow what the more successful bloggers are doing, which could be useful at times as you know they do something right, but if you do something that nobody else does it stands you out from the pack, and there's always reason for readers to go back.

5. Be reasonable on how much you can commit to the blogThis would always be my main struggle. How much time can I commit to my blogs and what would be the impact of that? There are many more bloggers out there that have more time to work on their blogs and it is impossible for me to compete in that aspect. Back to the consistency point, how much can you churn out a post? Once a day, three times a week, once a week? Whatever you decide, set reasonable goals for yourself and don't stress out. Your blog could grow to be something more in the future, but you can never get there if you run out of steam. Treat it as a marathon not a sprint. You have to do it for you - to love and to enjoy first and foremost.

So those are my top tips for building if not a successful, a satisfying blog. There are of course tons of other things to learn, like which blogging platform to use, whether to have your own domain/host or not, how to structure your posts, etc. (Short answer to the first two: use wordpress, and own domain if you intend to go far). There are also specific styles for different type of blog, which you have to learn as you go. For example for my book blog I almost use no social media channels, but use them more for my travel blog. I almost never got advertisement offer for my book blog, but I do quite a bit for my travel blog. All these take time to navigate, but the good thing about blogging is that you can set your own pace and do what suits you best. When you genuinely love what you do it shows and naturally attracts people, so keep at it and good things will come!


Find Dioni's incredible blogs (meexia is one of the best literary blogs we've found) at:

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Find your joy, peace and confidence in one little circle Stephanie Bavaro, GREATful coach, author and speaker...

As I sit here on this lovely morning pondering what to write for a very special group of readers, I just keep hearing “Go back to the beginning”, so that is exactly what I am going to do.
When I start any GREATful coaching, group coaching, or even my webinar series, we start with your “Circle of Power” as honestly that is as far as we ever need to go to find everything we need and desire. Before I dive into this, may I tell you a little about me?
I'm Stephanie Bavaro, CEO (Chief Empress Officer) of GREATful WOMAN - empowering you to live your dream life by unlocking your sexual self-esteem and leaning into your feminine strengths to find joy, peace and success. Today, I am a GREATful WOMAN, but it wasn't always that way. Eleven years ago, I was depressed, morbidly obese (327 pounds at my heaviest! – for my dear friends in the UK, that’s over 23-stone & 148kg), hated my job and in a long-term relationship that really was just a friendship. I started on a journey, initially just to lose weight and found the keys to joy, as I learned to embrace every aspect of being a woman -- from body to bedroom to babies to boardroom. Today, I am blessed to write, speak, coach and empower women to be the GREATful WOMAN they desire. 
So let’s get the party started.
If you have ever met or worked with me, you know that I love action. Transformation won’t come only in reading or listening to even the most powerful and inspirational people. It is about action – little and often – towards anything you desire. I coach woman and just that idea – anything YOU desire – can be difficult. We live our lives as partners, mothers, sisters, daughters, volunteers, taxi service (all of my yummy mummies are nodding), employee, lover, friend, event planner, etc.
Can any of you relate to this?
It does not matter if you are married or single, children or no children – the demands you put on yourself in addition to what anyone else may need from you can put you in a place of exhaustion, overwhelm, stress, and plain survival.
How does this ring true in your life?
Forget that on top of this you all are gorgeous, sexy, desirous creatures. You give life… how is that for magnificent? Yet, the demands on you from yourself and the world can make allowing for a healthy sexuality (part of what in GREATful WOMAN we call our “sexual self-esteem”) becomes simply a luxury.
Are you ever just too exhausted or frustrated or overwhelmed to take care of you? Are you the first person that gets knocked off list to be taken care of?
A GREATful WOMAN understands that truly to be of service to anyone else (partner, children, friends, family, employer…), you need to take care of you first. That is not selfish; that is smart and loving. Even on airplanes, they remind us to put our oxygen masks on before helping others.
Here is your first step to putting on your oxygen mask:
1.     Stand Up
2.     Look at your feet (from your toes to your heals, from left to right)
3.     With your fingers, draw an imaginary circle around your feet – big enough for you to comfortably stand in, but no room for anyone else.
This is you Circle of Power. We need look no further for peace, joy, confidence and success. How scary AND empowering is that?
Keep standing -- Now, let’s bring it to life.
1.     What color is it? Don’t think about it. Just name the color. There is no right or wrong. Each color has meaning. After you name the color, you can google it to see what it means (I don’t want to give any leading suggestions).
2.     What is its name? Give it a name: a name you love, a real name (mine is Veronica), and it does not matter if the name is male or female?
Keep Standing -- Now, let’s feel it! What three (3) words do you think of when you feel yourself standing in your circle of power? Again, I don’t want to give examples, as I don’t want to impact your instincts. These should be three loving words.
This is where we start; everything else grows from here. You can summon whenever you feel anything negative, remember how this felt, and know it is from here that you can become the GREATful WOMAN (or man!) that you desire. 

Thursday, 11 April 2013

How blogging enriched my life by Tammy Ryan

At the end of December 2011 I was depressed. Not in a clinical sense, just in a “is this all there is to life?” kind of way. I had just had my third miscarriage, and I was miserable.

At the time I was working in the office/sickbay at a local primary school, five days a week, eight hours a day. I enjoyed my job, (as much as you can enjoy plugging a child’s nosebleed) but I was lacking in some other areas of my life, namely almost everything else. At nights I would come home from work, cook tea, watch TV mindlessly for a few hours, eat more ice cream than I probably should, drink more wine than I definitely should, then go to bed, only to repeat it all over again the next day.

My weekends were even less exciting. Growing up my mother taught me by example that weekends should be set aside for cleaning. She would devote whole days to the pursuit, and so without even realising there were alternatives, I grew up and did the same. All Saturday I would wash/polish/vaccum/dust/mop/fold and wipe until finally, Saturday night, I could collapse on to the couch with a glass of red and smile with satisfaction at the sparkling cleanliness all around me.

This satisfaction would last right up until the next day, when my husband would eat his breakfast in front of the TV and drop crumbs all over the mat, then he would mow the lawns and traipse grass and other crap right across my pristine floors with his work boots. And after that, just in case I wasn’t already seething enough, he would shower and use his dirty towel to wipe the steam off my freshly polished mirror, leaving a dirty big fluffy smear right across its face. The bastard.

Come Sunday night, my clean house would be looking a little more jaded, a little less like a show home and more like an ordinary home again. Sigh.

So January 2012 rolled around and I decided I needed to stop these kinds of time wasting activities (i.e. cleaning), stop focusing on my fertility issues and find myself a project. By divine intervention (or maybe I just glanced at the bookshelf as I was walking past) I remembered a book I had purchased the year before but never read, ‘The Wonderful Weekend Book’ by Elspeth Thompson. The blurb on the back promised the book was packed with ideas that would help you ‘restore the balance to your life, reconnect you to the seasons and other people and – quite literally – not cost you the earth.’ This sounded right up my alley.

Now I am the first to admit that I am, ahem, technically not very good with computers and the like. In fact, my laptop has had to be repaired several times due to unfortunate incidents such as ‘liquid on the keyboard’, (snorting coffee out my nose while reading something funny on Facebook) and a stuck { key because I may or may not have bashed the keyboard out of frustration one too many times. (Disclaimer – am not actually admitting to any such thing here as my husband may read this. As far as he is concerned the fat cat sat on it, and that’s the story I’m sticking with, whether it sounds like a Dr Seuss excuse or not). My husband is also the proud owner of a very flash mobile phone whereas I am only allowed a great big brick of a thing because I have a tendency to drop it. Frequently. Within the first thirty seconds of purchasing the bloody thing in fact.

However, I mused, the whole point was to try something new and different, so technology challenged or not I headed to the first blogging website I could find and I made myself a blog. Which was crap. Really. So I deleted it and went to Wordpress instead. I am still, a year and a bit later, figuring out all the cool things I can do with Wordpress, mainly through trial and error – cue much hysteria when I occasionally do something I smugly think is clever and five seconds later it appears I have deleted the whole damn lot. Luckily hubby is a deft hand with all things technical and has thus far managed to fix or undo everything I’ve done. Phew.

The blog I created is called ‘The Year of Wonderful Weekends – reclaiming life’s simple pleasures.’ The aim was to do a new activity from the book every weekend and then blog about the experience. And I did this diligently for the first few months, including things far (like far, far) outside my comfort zone such as Sleeping Under the Stars on a farm, and a walk to hear the dawn chorus of the Kakapo birds, (which, funnily enough was at dawn, a previously unseen time of day). I made jam out of (stolen) rose petals, went beachcombing and fishing, had picnics at the lake with my family, explored the garden and its inhabitants with a magnifying glass, painted a painting, decluttered my bathroom cabinets and mailed New Zealand postcards to some lovely blog followers scattered about the world. And that was only in the first two months.

I became enthused about my weekends again. While I’d always looked forward to them, I now really looked forward to them, excited to try something new and to share it with people afterwards. I enjoyed making connections with people from other countries, letting them into my life and gaining glimpses into their worlds as well. I was nominated for Inspiring Blogger awards (and while let’s face it, who hasn’t been at one point or other, it was still a buzz for me to know that people were enjoying my blog).

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and while I was too scared to do any activity that could, in my mind at least, cause another miscarriage, I was also determined to stick with the blog. So I just did some of the tamer activities from the book, like mushroom hunting. Seriously. With weapons and everything. OK not really weapons as such…more like…oh just read the blog will you.

The book blurb was right. Over the course of the year I really did reclaim some of life’s simple pleasures; some I’d never even known existed. Like baking my own bread, (it’s so easy!)  and making time for the people you love. And all of it is recorded forever (or at least until machines take over the world) on the internet, complete with photos. I can go back through the archives on my blog anytime I want and remember the fun times I had, and the not so fun, like when I slept under the stars and my face and hands got eaten alive by mosquito’s and I puffed up and looked like I had gone ten rounds with Rocky in the ring. Really attractive. Not. Or when the dog got badly constipated and people at the local park thought we were bonkers for clapping every time she did her, you know, business.

Throughout the year I also shared updates of my baby bump and pregnancy news with my followers and enjoyed their well wishes, and at the end of October our daughter Holly arrived safely into this world. And even though she now consumes my every waking hour (also the ones traditionally known as ‘sleepy time’ like 1.00am, 3.00am and 5.00am - yawn) my year of wonderful weekends taught me that you must have balance in your life in order to be happy. So I make sure that I have still have a little time to myself occasionally to do something that recharges my soul. I’m much happier these days, and more in tune with the world around us. I stop and admire the flowers, feel the sun on my face, and smell the seasons in the air. When Holly is older I look forward to sharing some of the activities I experienced during that year with her.

This year I am still trying to add to the blog, although sadly not every weekend due to time constraints (also known as the baby), and I have a brand spanking new blog about my experiences in self publishing. Yep - I’ve fulfilled a dream and I’ve written and published a book ‘Charlie and Pearl’ available to purchase now on Amazon (please do).

My new blog, (known online as ‘Help me – Help Holly’) chronicles my writing/publishing highs and lows, and my efforts to help support Holly and my family through the odd sale of the book. I’d love to see you there!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

What now for the mighty Apple - where is the next iLlusion? By One Writer and his Blog

The apple, throughout history, has traditionally represented that which is forbidden. The forbidden fruit, with which Adam was tempted out of the Garden of Eden thus marking a dramatic fall from grace that is now associated with something else. Apple, the technology behemoth, has been tempting us far too successfully for years, under the leadership of its former CEO and mighty magician, Steve Jobs,  and now itself seems to have fallen from grace.


“So what now for Apple?” is the question on everyone's lips. Without their master magician to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat, the company seems to be floundering. Not so I say! My previous calls for a dividend (made well before Einhorn and others filed their suit) were clearly heard, or so I would like to think, and Apple may soon have one of the highest dividends for any major corporation in the US.

This is a start, something that investors have been looking forward to, and rightly so. However, it seems to me that the consumers, who drive the ungodly margins, and hence profits, are being left out of the equation with no “bang for their buck.”

In fact, the clamour of calls for something new has reached cacophonic proportions with many pundits and analysts predicting a mass move to other makers. Blasphemous as this may sound to the followers of the Magician, fear not. He may not be there, but his gang are well versed in making exceptional products (Ive, Cook et al have been at the Magician's side for years and things do have a tendency to rub off) as can be clearly seen by the money-printing machine that Apple has become, in spite of the loss of their leader.

So where are they going? Will it be a watch or an iLlusion? How long will the cash pile last and will they be able to innovate their way out of the current creative coma? These are the questions on everyone's lips.

Credit: The Tech Stock Blog

And here are the answers

There is definitely a product in the pipeline, all the rumours allude to it and we all know that there is no smoke without fire. Moreover, the share price also hints at it (if you are an active player then I suggest taking advantage of the old adage, "buy on the rumour and sell on the news").

However, I am willing to bet on the fact that it is not just a hardware leap. We have heard of extra cores, speed and memory of the latest phones. However, what will, in my humble view, differentiate products from now on is the software side. It has become a software game and Android is fast playing catch up with the industry wide benchmark, Apple. The leap will undoubtedly be on the software stage, which is now the more important side of the equation. Faster browsing, ease of access to the hundreds of apps that one has on one’s phone, software to control important functions and something more appropriate than looking like a freak commanding your phone are the things that are needed.

The good and the great say a watch, hmmmm, more colours, or even a cheaper model. Good but not good enough I say. Raise your game Apple, focus on the software and you will get the young buying again in droves. Pander to the new human need to have something more than just new and shiny, as we are way past that phase. This is your one chance, otherwise the cash pile will diminish and no number of dividend increases and preferred stock issuances will save the slow and painful decline that we have seen others face in your wake.

Copyright 2013 "One Writer and his Blog"

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