Thursday, June 28, 2012

YouTube is Becoming an Important Part of Your Social Media Plans



This is my first attempt at a VLOG, a Video Blog. I'm fairly satisfied with it as a beginners attempt. There are a couple of issues with the video.

Although I've worked for several hours, I cannot get the captioning to work well (when you enable it all you see is gibberish). I will continue to work on this and find out how to make it work. As soon as I get the answers, I'll share what I've learned.

Here is the link to my YouTube Channel, in case you want to subscribe.

I hope you will give me some feedback on the video and let me know if you'd like me continue posting them occasionally.

Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

I've had several of you ask for the written version of my VLOG. I'm adding it below:


YouTube is an Important Part of a Complete Social Media Presence
YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world, and it’s owned by Google. These days, the search engine rank of a website with videos and one without is considerable. Videos carry a lot of weight with Google’s search engine algorithm. Videos are also much more likely to go viral than text-only articles. 
A lot of people go to YouTube directly to search for infomovies. This form of information is the video form of an article. Although presently there isn’t as much competition for video rankings in YouTube as there is for article rankings with Google, the Internet world is headed that direction at a breakneck speed. 
Because the competition isn’t as great, it’s going to be easier to establish a ranking now, than wait and try to catch up. Here are some things you need to consider as you lay the groundwork for a solid presence on YouTube.
    • Keywords Still Rule. It’s critical to use your main keyword first (or as early as possible) in the video’s title, description and tags. You want to also use your own name, brand or website as well, but that should come after the keyword.
    • The Title of Your Video is Critical. It’s important that the title is a good representation of the information the video contains. Although it may seem too basic to mention, you’d be amazed at the number of people who still title their files “untitled.mov” or something else generic.
    • Include Your Keywords in the Video Voiceover. We’re all becoming more proficient a SEO for articles. Voiceovers are spoken articles and must be just as carefully keyworded for SEO.
It’s important to note that Google has a speech-to-text conversion technology which can convert your infomovie’s voiceover into captions. Google uses this to improve video search technology.
    • Upload a Transcript File for Video Captioning. Uploading your own caption transcript is a much better choice than letting YouTube transcribe the audio itself. By uploading your own, you have total control over what appears in your video captions.
To upload a transcipt file, click on Edit Video in the YouTube Video Manager. Click on the Captions tab. Under the Add New Captions or Transcript header, select Transcipt File as the Type and upload your script file. 
To watch YouTube set up your file, click the CC button on the video and YouTube will display the words in exact sync with the audio.
    • Build a Valuable YouTube Channel. Start branding your YouTube Channel the same way you would a new website or blog. If you’ve already begun to experiment with videos, go back and apply the suggestions in this article.
    • Add New Videos to You Channel Regularly. This is just like blogging, regular, new content gives you much more power in the search engines. 
    • Respond to Comments on Your Videos. Again, just as with blogging, answering comments is vital. 
    • Look for Ways to Exchange Links with Other Sites. Just like blogs and websites, it’s important to prove your Channel is valuable to others. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

7 Tips on How to Find Ideas for Blog Posts

It happens to us all. It’s the night before a blog post is due and we have no idea what to write about. It seems like all our creative juices have run dry. Do we just bail and skip that post, or is there something constructive that can bail us out?

Don’t panic. There are some specific things you can do and places you can look to find, not just something to fill in with, but something truly creative to blog about.

  • First, look no farther than your last blog post, or more specifically, the comments your last post brought out. Your subscribers and readers are your best source of inspiration. Their questions and comments can spur you on to ideas you’d never consider otherwise.
  • Second, take a look at the blogs you follow. What are some of the questions you’ve asked your favorite bloggers? Just because you don’t know the answer, doesn’t mean you can’t right about it. Trust me, the best way to learn something is by researching it well enough that you can write about it.
  • Third, investigate Facebook and Twitter. Do you see any trends, or notice a subject everyone is talking about? There’s a blog post in there!
  • Fourth, have you recently solved a problem that has to do with your blog’s topic? Don’t be stingy, share your secret with the rest of us. If you had an issue or challenge with something, chances are you aren’t the only one.
  • Seventh, post a question or a rant about something that truly irritates you. 
The point of your blog is to open up the lines of communication—to get the conversation going.

So now it’s your turn, have you ever been at a loss for something to post? What was your solution?
Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Monday, June 25, 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Weekend Worship—For God's Ways are Not Our Ways


"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.
Isaiah 55:8 (NIV)

Have you ever wished you understood God completely—understood why He allowed things to happen? I have and I’ve had some pretty uncomfortable conversations with non-believers about that subject. It’s hard to answer why a perfect, loving God would let evil proliferate in our world.

As believers, we know the Biblical answer—because man is sinful and God allowed us freewill. Translating that into actual application when someone is hurting is difficult at best. 

But I have come to an understanding that allows me peace, in spite of all the incomprehensible things in this world. That’s what this verse is all about. God has a bigger perspective than I can even imagine. And I’ve come to be so thankful He does. Because, I have to tell you, if my God was small enough for me to understand and anticipate, I don’t think He’d be large enough to worship. I’m blessed, time after time, by His timeless viewpoint and by the fact that I am not in charge.

My personal challenge for this week is to let go of needing to know why and instead, learning to rest in Who.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Life Lessons—Dare to Dream


Many of you who follow this blog are in a time of transition, and life can, at times, seem out of focus. Some are trying on the sobriquet of writer, to see how it fits. Others are transitioning to the next level of writing. While more and more are taking on writing as a full-time career. No matter where you are, we can all use a little help balancing life.

That's where my friend, Reba, comes in.

Today I'm excited to announce a new addition to The Write Conversation. Dr. Reba Hoffman is a close friend of mine, an amazing writer and a life coach. She has agreed to share a regular post with us every Friday. She posts daily on her site, Magellen Life Coaching, and I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity.

So without further fuss....

Dare to Dream
by Dr. Reba J. Hoffman

Your life as a writer is an incredible journey, filled with wonder, excitement, fear, rejection and a myriad of other exciting emotions. The path of the author is not an easy one. But you already know that, don’t you?


Writers are very unique individuals. You have a burning desire to string words together in a way that when others read them, their lives are changed. You desperately want to be successful so you learn, hone your craft and hope that someday you’ll see your name in print.

Know what I think? I think that makes you a very courageous person. I believe that your dream is too important to remain unlived. If you dream it, it’s is worth pursuing. Here are a few steps that may help you in your dream of being a writer:

1) It’s all about the journey. Many writers are so focused on what they feel is their destination (publication), they don’t think of enjoying the journey. Don’t let that happen to you.

2) Appreciate both sides of the coin. You’ll have celebrations and disappointments, acceptance and rejection, victories and losses. All are rich in experience and wisdom. Without both sides of a coin, it would hold no value. The same is true with your experiences.

3) It’s all temporary. Whether you are an instant overnight New York Times Best Selling Author or you can’t seem to complete your first rough draft, it won’t last. If you’re in a slump, don’t worry. You’ll get out. If you are on top of the world, umm… yeah, you’ll come back down to earth.

4) Believe in yourself. You have within you a uniqueness that only you can bring to the literary world. Only YOU can see the world through your eyes. And only YOU can write a story the way you do. Trust that. Believe in the creative power of YOU.

Follow your heart. Believe in your gift. Allow the flame of passion rise up within you and let that fire flow out of you and onto the page. Above all, Dare to Dream!

Reba J. Hoffman is the founder and president of Magellan Life Coaching (www.magellanlifecoaching.com).  She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Counseling and is a natural encourager. She serves as Member Care Coach for My Book Therapy and is the author of Dare to Dream, A Writer’s Journal. You can connect with Reba through her motivational blog, Finding True North, or by email at reba@magellanlifecoaching.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at @RebaJHoffman





Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thursday Review—Adding Google Analytics to Your Blogger Site Or Your WordPress Site


On Tuesday I gave you an introduction to website analytics. Today I want to introduce you to what I think is the best analytics program out there—whether you have a WordPress site or a Blogger site.
Google Analytics
In my opinion, this program has everything you need to track your site and, wait for it, it’s free. Below are the step-by-step instructions for adding Google Analytics to your Blogger site. After that is a link to a great video on how to add Google Analytics to your WordPress site. It’s much better than any instructions I could post and it’s what I use to add it to the WordPress sites I manage.
Adding Google Analytics to a Blogger Site
First you’ll need to create an account with Google Analytics. Go to http://www.google.com/analytics/ and click SIGN UP NOW. Use your Google Account information (your blogger info) to sign in.
On the next page you need to click the SIGN UP button. This is the window where you’ll supply all the details necessary to track your blog. 
  • Account Name: you get to choose the name. I named mine The Write Conversation because I several blogs I’m tracking and this helps me keep them separate.
  • Website URL: to make certain it’s accurate, go to the home page of your site and copy the URL from the address window. Then paste it here.
  • Time Zone: it’s important to get the correct time zone. The program tracks in 24-hour increments and you want to make sure it’s accurate.
  • Data Sharing Settings: I clicked on both. It’s important to know that there is no risk by doing this.

Read the terms of service and be sure to mark the “Yes, I agree...” box.
Click CREATE ACCOUNT button. This will take you to the the Tracking Code Configuration window.

Once there, you need to locate the WEB PROPERTY ID (the UA number). This is a unique number assigned to the account you just created. Find that number and copy it. 
Keep this window open and proceed to your blogger dashboard. 
*NOTE: I've blurred out the number of my account for security reasons.
  • On the new Blogger Interface, click the dropdown menu next to the name of the blog you want to track and choose the Settings tab. 
  • Once there choose the Other tab at the bottom of the list. 
  • Now locate GOOGLE ANALYTICS. 
  • Below that you’ll see the words, Analytics Web Property ID and a box. Paste the number you copied (Web Property ID) into this box.
  • Now click SAVE SETTINGS, and return to the Google Analytics (GA) page.

Scroll down the Google Analytics page until you see the box with the GA code. Copy the code and return to your Blogger page.
Now take a deep breath and a leap of faith (teasing!) and get ready to visit the inner workings of your blog. It’s time to paste the code into the HTML of your site. It’s really not that difficult so don’t worry.
  • First go to your TEMPLATE window. 
  • Once there, locate the EDIT HTML tab and click it. In the new blogger interface, it’s located directly under the picture of your blog.
  • Once you’re in the HTML view, locate the tag. This will be toward the bottom of the page and will be on a line by itself. 
  • Paste the GA code ABOVE the body tag.
  • Now click the SAVE button before you exit. It may take up to 24 hours before your data begins to appear in your account.
This is my site's code before I insert the HTML for Google Analytics

The code highlighted in blue is the Google Analytics HTML I added
Adding Google Analytics to a WordPress Site
Now I’d love to help you with any questions you have. I’d also like to give you the opportunity to chime in with your opinions and any analytic programs you’ve found that you like better than Google Analytics.
Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Everything Analytics—Learn What the Numbers Really Mean to the Success of Your Blog


These days everyone’s talking about analytics and how important they are. Today I’ll give you the info you need to take your blog to the next level.
First let’s start with the basics. What are analytics? 
One way of defining analytics within the context of the Internet is this: a process of collection, measurement and analysis of visitor activity on a specific website. This process is intended to help the author understand and achieve the goal of the website. 
This definition brings up several important points, first and foremost you should have a goal for your blog. It’s critical to your success that you know what you want to accomplish with it. 
Do you want to:
  • Connect with like minded people? 
  • Share information?
  • Build a platform or following?

All of these are great goals, but getting to each one will require a slightly different route. Before you can evaluate how well you’re doing you have to know where you’re going. 
Analytics can help you get there—if you know what you’re looking for.
Here are the most important statistics to look for:
  • Unique hits.
  • Returning visitors.
  • Traffic graph.

A Unique Hit is a statistic describing a unit of traffic to a website, counting each visitor only once within a specific time frame, say ten minutes. So visitor A could click on your blog once in a ten minute time period or 25 times during the same ten minute time period and either way would only be counted as one unique hit.
Returning Visitors are important because we want people to come back regularly. This is the statistic that tracks this.
The Traffic Graph for your site helps you track the popularity of your posts and when people visit your site. This can give you valuable insight when you’re planning your schedule and deciding what to blog about.
This is just an introduction to analytics. On Thursday I’ll be giving you a run down of what the different analytic programs can offer. 

Now it's your turn. What questions do you have about the statistics you see? Have these statistics helped you tweak your blog and get closer to your goal?

Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Monday, June 18, 2012

Meme Mondays—Increase Your Blog’s Visibility through Memes


Today I want to continue with my new regular Monday post—Memes (rhymes with beams). At the end of today's post I'm going to repeat the basics for those of you who missed last week's post. 


My Meme
I’m designing this particular meme (remember it rhymes with beam) to help us get a head start on the week. My challenge is for everyone to post a picture that inspires them. Here's mine:

Believe it or not, I took this picture in St. Louis, MO 
during the 2011 ACFW Conference. 
I did adjust the colors slightly, but the image has NOT been 
retouched or photo-shopped.

Meme Details:
The Picture—it can be a picture about anything that inspires you. You can include a blog post about it, or simply post the picture.
The Schedule—I will post a Linky on my site shortly after midnight on Sunday. You’ll get the biggest benefit by linking early so check in first thing on Monday morning. Who knows you may even find some inspiration. I encourage you to participate on Monday, but life happens to all of us, so feel free to link when it works best for you. Just remember, the picture will change on Monday.
Here are the basics:
Topics—these are limited only by your imagination. If you’re running out of ideas and passion for your blog, go for a simple list. One of the best examples I’ve seen is Patty Wysong’s a to z for u and me. You can also use pictures, writing prompts, literally anything you wish.
Participants—no limits here. Anyone who wants can take part. All you have to do is click on the Linky gadget at the end of the post and add your link. Be sure you link to the EXACT post on your blog, not just your general blog address. 
Benefits—I mentioned that memes are a great way to increase visibility for your blog. The key to that is to visit some of the Links listed at the end of the post. You don’t have to spend hours doing this, just visit one or two of the other blogs and leave a comment. 

Directions to Incorporate a Meme into a Blogger or Wordpress post:

  • First you'll need to set up an account with a Link service. I used Linky for this one. It's free for the first month and $2 per month there after. I like the options this service provides, but there are others that are completely free.
  • Next, you'll need to write your blog post. I recommend you compose your post before you generate your Meme so you'll have an idea of what to name it and how you want to describe it. I always compose my post in just the regular text window (as opposed to the HTML window) because I don't like to compose code.
  • Now you'll need to go to Linky and generate your meme. I recommend you begin with just the basic link. After you've generated your link, copy the code and return to your blog compose window. 
  • BEFORE you past your link into your blog post change your view to the HTML window. This is VERY important. If you don't do this, your link will not work. After you're in HTML view paste the code at the end of your blog post.

Now it's your turn!
Don't forget to join the conversation,
Blessings,
Edie

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Weekend Worship—Embracing the Legacy, Part Two



Thoughts for Father's Day
by Edie Melson

Jim & Monita Mahoney
I had the privilege of introducing you all to my mom on Mother’s Day, and today I’d like for you to meet my dad. Where my mom is an artist, creating works of art, Jim Mahoney is a photographer. His gift is to take something visible to everyone and show us what we missed. His black and white photographs have won him awards in numerous shows and been displayed in galleries around the country. 
And this was his second creative career.
Jim Mahoney
While I was growing up, my dad was a classical musician. He played in the Fort Worth Symphony, as well as taught music at our local college, University of Texas at Arlington. 
Even while he was pursuing his music career, he was strengthening his vision with a camera. As a child, I remember many vacations when he’d let me accompany him before dawn to be in place to capture breathtaking sunrise shots from places like the Grand Canyon.
Jim Mahoney
And through it all, he constantly encouraged me to discover my own strengths and explore life from the paths I chose. Neither of my parents ever dictated career or life paths, but instead chose to equip us with what we needed to find our own way. And those gifts, especially the courage to do what we love, are some of the most valuable I’ve ever received. 
As bad as you are, you still know how to give good gifts to your children. But your heavenly Father is even more ready to give good things to people who ask. Matthew 7:11 CEV

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday Review—Revision & Self-Editing


Revision & Self-Editing
by James Scott Bell

This week the Thursday Review is done by fellow writer, Mary Denman.

No author today has published a novel without an editing. Behind every great story is a great editor. But how do you get your manuscript in front of a busy editor to polish it if it has problems in tension, or dialogue or story line? Well, you have to become your own editor. How, you might ask? By reading James Scott Bell’s book, Revision and Self-Editing.

An accomplished novelist in his own right, Jim distills the lessons he’s learned into a fantastic book that teaches you what problems to look for in your own novel. Dialogue not right? He covers that. Struggling with POV or descriptions? Want to understand showing vs. telling? He covers that and more in the Self-Editing section. He also provides concrete examples and exercises throughout the book to teach you what he’s talking about.

But how do you revise the entire manuscript you’ve produced? Read the second half of his book. He includes the Ultimate Revision Checklist which is worth its weight in gold. He takes you step by step through the process and you’ll have a stronger novel for it.

So how do I know how great this book is? Because my copy is pink and green from highlighters. And it’s written in from cover to cover. Literally. Jim Bell inspired me to tackle the project of self-editing. And I’m glad he did.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

5 Easy Steps to Edit Your Blog Posts


Lately, I’ve notice more and more typos creeping into my blog posts. It’s not a fun thing to admit, but it’s because I’ve become complacent about editing. Oh I could blame it on being busy, or life getting crazy, but the truth is...I’ve gotten sloppy.
It’s easy to do. We’re halfway through the year, things are going well with my blog, and my concentration has been elsewhere. Still no excuse. 
So today I’m going back to the basics. I’m posting the checklist I use (at least I used to use it) before I publish a blog. It’s not a long involved process, but it will ensure those annoying typos become much less common place.
Before I get to the list you should know I compose my blog posts in a word document, with NO formatting. I do this for a couple of reasons.
  • First, it gives me a back-up of everything I post on my blogs.
  • Second, it’s easier to check for misspelled words here rather than in the compose pane of my blog.

Blog Edit Check List
1. I begin the process by looking for misspelled words. First checking for the ones my word processing program underlines in red, then checking some common words that have more than one spelling. Here’s a short list of ones that frequently get by me:
  • lose vs. loose.
  • chose vs. choose.
  • its vs. it’s.
  • there vs. they’re vs their.
  • your vs. you’re.

2. At this point, I stop to copy and paste the post into the compose window of my blog. This is when I add the formatting. The reason I wait is because the formatting doesn’t copy and paste accurately. The reason for this due to the code involved with publishing a blog to the web. I also check for places to break up the text with bold, headings, italics and bullet points.
3. Next I add the photographs to illustrate the post. 
4. Now that I have the photos, I go to the preview window to see if the font type is correct (verdana), and all the spacing lines up. Here’s what I’m looking for:
  • I want an extra line between paragraphs.
  • I don't want extra lines anywhere.
  • I make certain the text and the pictures line up well, and there isn’t an odd or short line of text sticking out anywhere around the photos.

5. Finally, I return to the compose window and read the entire post out loud. I know it sounds weird, but your brain uses different pathways when you read something out loud and you’re less likely to see what’s actually on the page. This is when I add any commas or other punctuation marks I may have missed.

These steps won't insure a perfect post every time, but they will cut way back on incidental typos.

Now I'd like to know what you look for before you hit publish on your blog. Any tips you share about your process can help us all get better.

Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Monday, June 11, 2012

Meme Mondays—Increase Your Blog’s Visibility through Memes


Today I want to introduce a new regular Monday post—Memes (rhymes with beams). Many of you may have seen the word or heard the term and wondered what all the fuss was about. Well wonder no more...
Memes are nothing more than linked posts. 
Here are the basics:
Topics—these are limited only by your imagination. If you’re running out of ideas and passion for your blog, go for a simple list. One of the best examples I’ve seen is Patty Wysong’s a to z for u and me. You can also use pictures, writing prompts, literally anything you wish.
Participants—no limits here. Anyone who wants can take part. All you have to do is click on the Linky gadget at the end of the post and add your link. Be sure you link to the EXACT post on your blog, not just your general blog address. 
Benefits—I mentioned that memes are a great way to increase visibility for your blog. The key to that is to visit some of the Links listed at the end of the post. You don’t have to spend hours doing this, just visit one or two of the other blogs and leave a comment. 


Directions to Incorporate a Meme into a Blogger or Wordpress post:

  • First you'll need to set up an account with a Link service. I used Linky for this one. It's free for the first month and $2 per month there after. I like the options this service provides, but there are others that are completely free.
  • Next, you'll need to write your blog post. I recommend you compose your post before you generate your Meme so you'll have an idea of what to name it and how you want to describe it. I always compose my post in just the regular text window (as opposed to the HTML window) because I don't like to compose code.
  • Now you'll need to go to Linky and generate your meme. I recommend you begin with just the basic link. After you've generated your link, copy the code and return to your blog compose window. 
  • BEFORE you past your link into your blog post change your view to the HTML window. This is VERY important. If you don't do this, your link will not work. After you're in HTML view paste the code at the end of your blog post.

My Meme
I’m designing this particular meme (remember it rhymes with beam) to help us get a head start on the week. My challenge is for everyone to post a picture that inspires them. Here's mine:



To me, this picture illustrates one of my passions. I want to 
give each of you the tools for your blog to rise above the rest.



Meme Details:
The Picture—it can be a picture about anything that inspires you. You can include a blog post about it, or simply post the picture.
The Schedule—I will post a Linky on my site shortly after midnight on Sunday. You’ll get the biggest benefit by linking early so check in first thing on Monday morning. Who knows you may even find some inspiration. I encourage you to participate on Monday, but life happens to all of us, so feel free to link when it works best for you. Just remember, the picture will change on Monday.

Now it's your turn!
Don't forget to join the conversation,
Blessings,
Edie