How To Avoid Hashtag Hell.

Many people still wonder how to use  #hashtags effectively.

Hashtags can be enormously helpful in getting your message or product seen by more people on social media.
However, if not used the right way, they can easily turn into a millstone around your social media neck.
Today I’m offering a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way, in the hope of clarifying when and how to use hashtags to your advantage.

ON TWITTER     

  1. Keep it simple.
    Use up to four key hashtags ScreenHunter_416 Apr. 11 14.46per tweet.
    This way, your message is not overwhelmed by hashtags, and your tweet will look clean and uncluttered.
  2. Keep it relevant.
    Occasionally I might add another specific hashtag if my tweet is relevant to a specific event that is going on.

    For example, during Women’s History Month in March, I added either #CelebratingWomen or #WomensHistoryMonth to my tweets that were relevant – but not to all of them.

    Adding those tags to a post about spelling or writer’s block simply wouldn’t be appropriate, and would definitely look opportunistic rather than professional.

    Similarly, given that April is #NationalPoetryMonth, I’ve added that to my tweets inviting people to read my poetry on my blog, but not to the ones where I’m offering advice to authors learning to use social media.

  3. Keep it useful.

    Using hashtags that nobody is looking for is a waste of time and effort.

    Using the search bar near your profile menu and Tweet button, you can type in key words to see which hashtags are the most popular.

    ScreenHunter_413 Apr. 11 13.29

    The hashtags that come up will change as you keep typing – see from the illustration here the difference between typing ‘book’ and ‘bookw’.

    ScreenHunter_413 Apr. 11 13.30             ScreenHunter_415 Apr. 11 13.31

    This is a handy way to see what is most popular among the relevant terms that you could choose from.

ON INSTAGRAM AND TUMBLR
2017-04-11 13.54.31

  1. Keep it organised.
    Comment on your image or video, give your website or link, then use hashtags. It keeps things tidy, easy to read, and attractive to the eye.

    It also means that even when the feed condenses your post, people see the most important things first – your content, your message, and your website.

  2. Keep it useful.
    You can use more hashtags on Instagram or Tumblr, as this helps new people find your content.  You can use up to ten, but no more. Nobody wants half their feed taken up by dozens of hashtags that look as though they were chosen by a rabid squirrel who just couldn’t stop.
    2017-04-11 13.50.18
    As you are typing on Instagram, using a hash symbol # will cause tags to come up in a list as you type. Instagram is handy in that it gives you feedback on how many times that tag has been used. Here, #poems is good, but #poetry is way better so that’s the one I chose to use.
  3. Keep it relevant.
    Don’t use the most popular hashtag of the hour if it’s not related to the content of your post. Use the tags that will find the best audience for your content: those most likely to be interested.
    2017-04-11 13.50.31
    Once again, Instagram’s numbers on how many times a tag has been used are really helpful here. It can help you choose between terms like “writer” and “writersofinstagram” to get greater reach for your post.
  4. What seems convenient isn’t always best. 

    It can be really tempting to send your post from Instagram to all your other social media accounts.  However, that’s not always the best thing to do.

    Don’t share directly from Instagram to Twitter unless you’re under that 140 character limit.
    A longer message will get cut off, leaving your tweet looking like you don’t know what you’re doing. Nobody wants that.

    Don’t share directly from Instagram to Facebook if you want your post to look professional. A bunch of hashtags look completely out of place on Facebook. They’re not really needed there at all.

737f57eed5461fb1c11cc1d318708671_hashtag-memes-facebook-meme-hashtag_311-311

 

 

The Value Of Commenting On A Blog.

Something many people don’t understand is the value of leaving a comment on a blog.

blogging

Something many people don’t understand is the value of leaving a comment on a blog.

It’s easy to read a post and move on, and even easier to like a blog post without reading it.

But stop and think for a moment. How much more valuable to the writer, and other readers, if you actually bothered to respond. Isn’t that what you’d hope for when writing your next blog post? Nobody wants to invest time in writing something that people are just going to skim over.

Not only that, but you will gain more from the post and from the interaction with others than you realise.

You might gain new ideas or perspectives, or you might just end up feeling a little better about life.

It doesn’t have to be a long or complicated post. Even just saying “thank you” or “I liked this!” does the trick.


However, commenting on a blog post is more useful than just propping up the ego of some blogger who hopes to be discovered one day.

Leaving a comment on a blog post doesn’t have to take more than five seconds, but it can make a huge difference to the blogger by helping them, and whatever they have to say, to become more “discoverable”. 

Leaving a comment on a blog directly affects the ranking and therefore the visibility of that blog on both the platform – such as WordPress or Blogger – and consequently on the web. Rankings and visibility affect which posts are chosen to be featured on the highlights pages of blogging platforms, such as the ‘Discover’ page on WordPress which pick up the posts that have had the most interaction and engagement, not just the ones with the most likes or views.

ScreenHunter_411 Apr. 09 19.40

One of the author support groups on Facebook to which I belong has been conducting an experiment over the past few weeks. We’ve made a deliberate effort to read, like and comment on a selected blog post by each of the others.

Those posts have consistently attracted more viewers beyond that initial group. These new viewers also seem more willing to read, like, and comment. This boosts the visibility of the individual post and of the blog overall, and helps to attract even more viewers.

In short, it’s a highly valuable snowball effect in drawing attention to both the post and the blog. 

Let’s face it. That’s a pretty cool thing to be able to do for someone.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Why You Should Always Have A Pinned Post.

Whether on Twitter or Facebook, or any other social media where you can pin a post, you should.

Frankly, I’m surprised
at how many people don’t.

Whether on Twitter or Facebook, or any ScreenHunter_411 Apr. 07 15.29
other social media where you can pin a
post, you should.  Frankly, I’m surprised
at how many people don’t.

Here’s why.

It is an immediate way for people to see what you’re about – your book, your favourite charity, an upcoming event, social justice issues, whatever it is. 

It also serves as an easy way for people to share your posts and get your message out to even more people. Some of those people will share your interest, and either share your post or follow you. Some will do both. 

In short, it’s a great way to get more attention with minimal effort. 

If you have a good number of new followers on a regular basis, you can change your pinned post each week or each month to give followers and “click-throughs” something new to share on your behalf. 

It’s also a great way to get feedback on the effectiveness of your post.

The stats at the bottom of a pinned tweet tell me how many replies, shares and likes that post has had. Clicking on the little graph icon at the far right gives you even more detail about how far your post has travelled.

ScreenHunter_411 Apr. 07 15.32

It can get you more followers and more shares. 

There’s another thing to consider, too. If people click through to your profile and all you have is shares or retweets, they can easily decide you don’t have original thoughts to share and lose interest. Given that they’ve been interested enough to click through to your profile, that’s probably a bunch of shares and prospective followers that you’ve missed out on. 

To pin a post is easy.

On both Twitter profiles and Facebook pages, each post has a little down arrow at the top right-hand side. Click that, and choose “pin etc”.

That will remain your pinned post, and always appear at the top of your profile, until you choose to pin something else there. 

 

 

 

How To Write A Bestseller.

The question I hear most from aspiring authors is, “How do I write a bestseller?”

The question I hear most from aspiring authors is, “How do I write a bestseller?”

My answer is always the same: “You can’t. Nobody can do that. All you can do is write the story you want to write in the best way that you can. What happens after that is up to the audience.”

It’s a sad fact of life for writers, but there’s no proven formula for producing a best-seller.
J.K. Rowling must hear that question an awful lot too – that’s my assumption, but when you see an American news service running headlines like “JK Rowling gives ‘words of wisdom’ to emerging writers” you can safely bet that she’s answered the question a few times.

Her advice is good. Write what you’re passionate about. Don’t be discouraged by rejection. Keep going. Make it as good as it can be. And then keep going some more.

To that, I would add: Make sure you’ve got your word choices, punctuation, and paragraphing right. Don’t settle for a mediocre cover. And don’t be afraid to go Indie and self-publish: that’s how Charles Dickens and Walt Whitman started out, too.

In fact, some of the very best books I’ve read over the last 12 months have been Indie books. I honestly believe that people who dismiss Indie books as “not good enough” are missing out on some of the best books available.

If you’re an aspiring author, listen to advice from those who know.

It can be disheartening. I can be really hard, even when you know you have put a great book out there, and people don’t seem to be catching on that you’re a literary genius. These things take time.  But if you keep going when others give up, sooner or later, someone is going to notice you and, even more importantly, your book.

ScreenHunter_411 Apr. 05 18.24

 

National Poetry Month.

Since 1996, April has been a month of celebration of poetry, which also means a celebration of great poets.

I’m all for that.

National Poetry Month 2Since 1996, April has been a month of celebration of poetry, which also means a celebration of great poets.

I’m all for that.

Many people haven’t read any poetry since they were in school. I’d really like to see that change.  There are some beautiful classic poems out there, but there are also some fabulous poets writing magnificent poetry these days, too.

The real power of poetry is the ability to read something and understand someone else’s perspective in a beautiful, profound way. I can read something someone has written from the depths of their heart, and relate to it and know that I’m not the only person who ever feels that way. I write in the hope that someone will read my poetry and have that same experience.

Who of us hasn’t been moved by the powerful words in a song? And what’s a song except poetry that has been given music?

I encourage you to pick up some poetry and read it today. There’s plenty to choose from on my WordyNerdBird Writes blog, which you can read for free.

Or you could pick up one of these great books by clicking on the title link. There’s nothing priced over $3 for the eBook among them. That’s less than a cup of coffee each… bargain!

promo nova cover                    leaf cover image

Nova                                                  Leaf

Promo Stained Glass Cover                         Lyra Shanti Sediments

Stained Glass                                   Sediments

Denise Dianaty The Dance Plays On                    Kevin Cowdall Assorted Bric-a-Brac

The Dance Plays On                  Assorted Bric-a-brac

Shelby Leigh It Starts Like This

It Starts Like This

Stained Glass

Promo Stained Glass Cover

I’ve just released an eBook titled ‘Stained Glass’.

‘Stained Glass’ is a collection of 22 poems for and
about women, by a woman who is striving to live,
love, work and make sense of the world she lives in.

‘Stained Glass’ is poetry that reflects the light and shade of life, and all the colours in between.

The poems celebrate the strength and extraordinary resilience of women through the exploration of diverse issues, including love, loss, social expectations, self-awareness and personal integrity.
In rare moments the glass is rose-coloured; elsewhere, the window is astonishingly clear.
There are 7 brand new poems in this collection.
Some of these poems – roughly one-third – are in ‘Leaf’, and others – another third – are in ‘Nova’.
‘Stained Glass’ will be permanently priced at 99c, and is available on AmazoniBookskobo and other digital stores.

Richard III’s Book of Hours.

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I’m a history nerd. I love reading it. I love studying it. I love teaching it. And my favourite period of history, ever? Medieval Britain.

So you can imagine my absolute joy when I learned that Leicester Cathedral has made a digital copy of Richard III’s personal prayer book, the ‘Book of Hours’, available to everyone, world-wide, absolutely free. Maybe they don’t realise that I, and many others like me, would have willingly parted with cold, hard cash for that. Needless to say, I went right over there and grabbed it.

RIII Book of Hours
Included with the digital version of Richard’s Book of Hours is a commentary by historians Anne F. Sutton and Livia Visser Fuchs, which offers insight and explanations for the text.

Richard III is possibly one of the most controversial English kings. He’s the one they dug up from underneath a public car park in Leicester in 2012, and re-buried in Leicester Cathedral in 2015. But that’s not why he’s controversial.
Richard is the key figure at theKing_Richard_III centre of the “did he, or did he not?” debate about the demise of the ‘Princes in the Tower’. Of course, nobody really knows. There’s a lot of evidence that he was the most likely suspect, but there’s also a number of good arguments for other parties being responsible. The fact is, we’ll probably never know.

Either way, the Tudors very cleverly had Richard portrayed in both history and popular culture as the entirely self-serving, greedy, murderous, deceitful and manipulative hunchbacked king who murdered his way to the throne and effectively stole the kingdom of England from anyone who was more entitled to it than he.

That story was most famously perpetuated in Shakespeare’s play ‘Richard III’, which also caused him to be the most misquoted king of England ever. How many people actually believe that “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” meant that he was willing to swap his kingdom for a horse, presumably with the intention of escaping on it? In actual fact, even in Shakespeare’s play, he was saying that if he couldn’t get a horse to replace his own, which had been killed in battle, he would surely lose his kingdom to Henry Tudor. As I’ve pointed out to my own students, if Shakespeare had actually thought of making him look that cowardly and heartless about his own kingdom, he might have written it that way, but he didn’t. The Tudor bias in both the recorded history and in Shakespeare’s play did mean that for the last 550 years or so, most people have quite happily assumed the worst of Richard.

Richard’s Book of Hours suggests a different side to this man. Owning a prayer book is one thing; using it is another. Richard made personal notes in this book – a comment in the margin, a note about his birthday. Given the rarity of books at the time of Richard’s reign from 1483 until his death in 1485, one would be reluctant to write in a book unless they were actually using it. In some other similar books , there are occasional little notes written beside the text of the book by whichever priest was either writing or studying the text. We must understand, though, that it’s different than a teenager drawing winky faces next to the rude bits in Shakespeare.

One such note we can be absolutely certain was added by Richard to this book is “dolor”, which means ‘grief’. Having experienced the death of both his only son and then his wife, Richard was indeed a man familiar with grief.

When I consider the images of Richard’s Book of Hours, I think of a man who was conscious of his standing before God and who used this book daily. I think of the man contemplating his fate on the night before the Battle of Bosworth, where contemporary sources suggest he had a daily prayer book right there with him in his tent.  He was a man who prayed. Those records also tell us that Richard participated in a service of Mass before going into battle.  Obviously, I cannot vouch for his sincerity because I never met the man, but it does make one consider another perspective of this perhaps much-maligned king.

After the Battle of Bosworth where Richard died and Henry Tudor became Henry VII of England, Richard’s prayer book was gifted to Henry’s mother, Margaret Tudor. She didn’t scratch Richard’s name out of the front of the book, but she did write a short poem in the back that stated the book now belonged to her.

Thankfully, the book now belongs to Leicester Cathedral, who have generously shared it with all of us. Even in digital form, I find that very, very exciting.

 

Sources:
http://www.medievalists.net/2015/03/richard-iiis-book-of-hours/

http://www.medievalhistories.com/book-of-hours-of-richard-iii/

http://www.lambethpalacelibrary.org/content/annunciation

http://leicestercathedral.org/about-us/richard-iii/book-hours/

World Poetry Day: March 21

Did you know it’s World Poetry Day today?
Some ways you can celebrate it: 

* Read a poem 

* Write a poem

* Buy a book of poetry by your favourite poet… you know… like… me. 

* Read some poems to your kids.

* Get your kids to read poems to you

* Encourage other people to do those things, too!
If you want to check out my books, you can find the links in the pinned post at the top of this page, or visit my website at www.jvlpoet.com

If you want a paperback signed by the poet and inscribed for World Poetry Day 2017, slide into my inbox and whisper those delicious words… “I need your poetry in my life…” and I’ll contact you to make arrangements. 
I hope you have a very poetic day! 

On Being A Writer.

Tonight, an author friend posed this question in a discussion group: Is being a writer just a pipe dream?

She asked this in response to a controversial tweet by Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, last week:
‘English Major = Want Fries With That? Pick something that will give you enough money to write what you want.’ (Follow the link to the full article.)

It’s a thought-provoking question. Can I legitimately call myself a writer or a poet if that’s not my main source of income? Without a doubt, yes!

Authors throughout history have held other jobs to survive while they pursued their writing.  I’m just one in a very long list.

In this world, being “just” a writer is the domain of very few.

However, being a writer AND having another job doesn’t mean one is not a writer.
I don’t make enough out of writing to quit my job… far from it… but writing is both my passion and my therapy, so if I can cover my expenses… in my mind, that’s a good outcome.

If my writing helps someone feel that they’re less alone, or less weird, or can better understand someone else’s situation… that’s far more like what I want to achieve, particularly with my poetry.

I’d like to sell more books, sure. But not doing so isn’t going to stop me writing. And it won’t make me any less a writer.

You just wait til I’m dead. (Hopefully not any time soon.)
My poetry will go off the charts then.

Maybe you should buy a signed copy from me while you can.

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