Friday, August 24, 2012

How to: Be a Blogger

Every time someone finds out I'm a blogger the first thing they say is, "Oh my life is not interesting enough for someone else to read about". That always makes me laugh because, honestly neither is mine. There is this image of a "blogger" as this mystical person that has the most adventurous life. People flock to their blog to read all about their amazing insight, hysterical stories and touching moments. All while some how making enough money solely by blogging, that they get to just stay at home and write.

Ready to have your bubble popped....
It's not true. I wish I could say I was that cool. That I had people flocking to my blog, that I made some sort of substantial money, or that my life had some adventure. But its none of that, blogging is just writing. It's writing that human element that we all share. Its just Life. Its human interest. Its meeting friends over a cup of coffee and instead of being face to face, your reading their words.

Their words, your words can be about anything. That is the great thing about words, you can make them what you want. If you want to write about food, recipes, and all that yumminess do it! Trust me I will read it and pretend I can cook.  Love fashion? Write about it. Are you a poet, stringing words together in a melody? WRITE IT!

Be a blogger, it gets your writing out there. You get feed back, your hone your skill, and you can "meet" a lot of amazing people. Some of the people out there that I feel the closest too are fellow bloggers! Have I ever meet them face to face? No. Is there a connection there, yes. When you share you life, you connect. If it is just one piece of your life your still sharing.

Isn't that what writing is all about?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tell Me Something About Yourself {Weekly Writing Prompt}

Welcome to Voices: Write to be Heard weekly writing prompt!  After you have written a post or article inspired by our writing prompt, link up so we can all read each other’s work.  Remember, even if you aren’t a blogger, writing prompts are great practice, or start a blog so you can link up with us! 
Happy Writing,

This week, tell me a little something about yourself.  Here are some questions to get you started.
1)  What kinds of things really make you laugh?
2)   What’s your favorite place in the entire world?
3)  What should I know about you that I’d never think to ask about?
Can’t wait to learn a little more about y'all.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Last week I spoke at our Voices Third Thursday meeting on how to make a career as a freelancer. So, I thought I would share a few tips about how to be a good freelancer and keep those assignments rolling in: 
  • Respect deadlines. Turning in an assignment late -- especially more than once -- makes editors grumpy and lessens the chances they will turn to you for future assignments.
  • Be familiar with the publication. This means reading a few issues and understanding the various departments, the tone, the focus and the kind of content they publish.
  • Pitch the right contact/editor. Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly who that is, but at least check out the masthead or even the website where there are often submission guidelines. If it’s still unclear, you can always call and ask.
  • Accept edits and rewrites. Don’t be offended if the editor asks you to rework a piece. That’s part of the business and will help you develop thick skin. Use it as an opportunity to learn some new writing techniques.
  • Follow AP Style (or the publication’s preferred style). Most newspaper and magazines follow Associated Press style rules so familiarize yourself with those. Editors are happy when they don’t have to edit a ton of style (and grammar) errors. And happy editors give you more assignments.
  • Make yourself invaluable. Act like part of the team even if you aren’t technically on staff. Become that go-to freelancer who meets deadlines, writes clean copy, pitches good ideas and is pleasant. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

How to Create a Blog

Last night at our Third Thursday I spoke with some of you ladies about blogging. A few of you wanted to know more about starting a blog. Today we are talking about how to create your blog.
It is not complex, but it does take a few minutes and filling out a few forms.

Here is How To: Set up a Blogger Blog!

Go to Fill in your email (if you have a gmail account) if not you can register for one. If you already have an email account, you can set the gmail to just be your blogger account. I'll go over that in a min.

Next, you can pick if you want a google+ profile or just a blogger profile. 

Next is where you create your blog by picking a Blog Title, then a URL. Your Blog Title is what your blog will be called and they do not have to match. For instance my Blog Title is Mrs Pate Writes, but my URL is  Your Blog Title can be changed at anytime, but your URL should not be changed. 

Once you pick a name, and URL, the next step is to pick a template. There are amazing, easy to use templates on blogger and can be changed at any time, and can be customized.

 When your blog is "created" your next step is to simply post! A post is what you are writing.

 Hit Publish, and volia! You are an official Blogger!

Every week we're going to walk you wonderful ladies through different aspects of writing, blogging, and anything else you have questions about! I want this to be something that is truly beneficial to you, but for that to happen I need to know "what do you need"? What are the things you want to know more about? Please leave a comment below and we will take them a week at a time. There is no question too big, to small, or too silly! We want each of you to grow in this process, for that to happen we need to know what you need! I would love to know if any of you start a blog! If you do and would like to share it, copy your URL into the comment section below! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Did You Know?

Tonight is Third Thursday with our very own Holly Fisher, owner of HAF Creative. She will talk about the many paths to creating a career as a freelance writer, including writing for print and online outlets as well as business and marketing copywriting. Fisher is a full-time freelance writer. Her work has been published in several Charleston area publications. Learn more about her at  In addition, blogger Tiffany Pate will do a Q&A answering bloggers’ technical questions. Pate blogs at Mrs Pate Writes.


Did you know every week when you link up to the weekly writing prompt, your post could end up here?
Yes, here!

If you don't have a blog just email us at voicescharleston(at)gmail(dot)com.
Who knows maybe next week we will be reading your writing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back to School {Weekly Writing Prompt}

Have you seen it? Backpacks, number two pencils, notebooks, the fall crispiness in the air. Okay, maybe no crispiness in the air. This is my favorite time of the year, new notebooks empty waiting to be filled with thoughts and words, so many new opportunities, new hopes, new starts.

This week for the writing prompts I though we would change it up a bit. 
Here are three options to be inspired from: 

What is your favorite school memory? 

Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.
Douglas Adams
Change is the end result of all true learning.
Leo Buscaglia

Don't forget to link up or email your writing to voicescharleston(at)gmail(dot)com

Monday, August 13, 2012

Value Your Work

This week I’ll be speaking at our Voices Third Thursdays meeting on the topic of making a career as a freelance writer. One piece of advice I’ll be sure to mention is the importance of seeing yourself as a professional writer and not devaluing your work by charging too little.

A few years back I signed up for a three-month subscription to This is a site where people post jobs and then you can bid on the work. I’d get a daily email of writing-related jobs and then could decide if I wanted to place my bid. I bid on a few and ended up getting one blogging job that lasted more than a year so it was worth the $100 I paid for the subscription.

But, what shocked me was the number of horrible jobs that were posted. People wanted tons of copy written for a $5. I’m not exaggerating - $5! That’s not worth booting up your computer. The sad fact is that people are willing to work for that.

I discourage writers from working for free or taking low-paying jobs. Yes, a few exceptions apply, including doing pro bono work for a beloved nonprofit or because you value the publication and really want that clip.

But as a general rule, get paid (and paid well) for your work. If you’re pursuing a full-time career as a freelancer, you’ll never make a living on $5 checks.

That may not be my traditional Monday “nuts and bolts” kind of writing tip but it’s an important one nonetheless. Getting paid what you’re worth not only shows others value your work but, more importantly, that you value it too.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

It's a Celebration {Weekly Writing Prompt}

 Welcome to Voices: Write to be Heard weekly writing prompt!  After you have written a post or article inspired by our writing prompt, link up so we can all read each other’s work.  Remember, even if you aren’t a blogger, writing prompts are great practice, or start a blog so you can link up with us! 
Happy Writing,

My first born is turning one in a few short weeks.  This calls for a celebration for sure!  Write about celebration.  What is your favorite party memory?  Did something funny happen at a party?  Did you ever participate in a major party foul?  What does your dream wedding/ anniversary/ birthday look like.  To surprise or not to surprise?

Monday, August 6, 2012

How Do You Write?

The back page of each issue of The Writer magazine is devoted to a feature called “How I Write.” Authors give you a glimpse into their writing routines and styles. For example, the September 2012 issue features novelist Lauren Fox. 

Fox has two small children so she writes whenever she can, she says. (Makes me feel better to know other writers cram their writing life into their “regular” lives.) Fox goes on to explain how she prefers to use outlines and enjoys writing first-person because it is “immediate and intimate.”

In the May issue,Tawni O’Dell says she doesn’t have a writing routine and that she spends as much time thinking as she does writing. “It takes me at least two years of struggling with my characters and story to complete a novel.” (Again, I feel much better!)

O’Dell also says her books are character-driven and she begins the writing process focused on the characters, not a plot. She doesn’t outline and she takes very few notes.

These two women have very different writing styles, but they have figured out what works best for them.
Have you stopped to think about how you write and what kind of writer you are (or aspire to be)? If you find yourself struggling or trying to fit a preconceived notion of a “writer,” stop and think about how you work best. Are you an early morning writer? Do you make outlines or notes? Do you like to fill the computer screen with words and scenes, worrying about tying it all together later? Any combination of those is correct.

Don’t make outlines if you hate outlines. Don’t try to work at 8 p.m. knowing full well you’re at your best at 7 a.m. How do you write? Let’s hear about your routines and your process, remembering each of us is different and each of us is right. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

How To: Google Analytics

There are many ways to track your blog stats, the best one being Google Analytics. Blogger does have a tracing system with their blogs but they also count spam hits and actual hits, so Analytics is a more accurate count.

Google Analytics is simple to set up. You sign in with your Gmail/Blogger account, select your url type (most of you will be a single url) and add your url. Then you simply add the tracking html code on to your blog and it will start tracking. 

It will take a day for the numbers to show up, it refreshes every morning.

The next time you sign into Google Analytics you will see this crazy graph and chart.
The line graph shows you how many visitors you had each day, and the pic chart show you who was returning and who was new. 

On the side you will see this:

Visits: 560
 The total number of hits to your blog.
Unique Visitors: 338
Unique Visitor report counts visitors to your website (counting each visitor only once in the selected date range.
Pageviews: 977
A Pageview is the standard unit of Web traffic. Each time a webpage is viewed, it counts as one page view.
Pages / Visit: 1.74
 The Pages/Visit (Average Page Depth) metric displays the average number of pages viewed per visit to your site. Repeated views of a single page are counted in this calculation. This metric is useful both as an aggregate total as well as when it is viewed with other dimensions, such as country, visitor type, or mobile operating system.
Avg. Visit Duration: 00:02:19
 Average link some one is on your blog.
Bounce Rate: 69.46%
 The Bounce Rate is the percentage of bounced visits to your site.
A bounce is calculated as a single-page view or single-event trigger in a session or visit.
The following situations qualify as bounces:
  • A user clicks on a link deep into your site sent by a friend, reads the information on the page, and closes the browser.
  • A user comes to your home page, looks around for a minute or two, and immediately leaves.
  • A user comes directly to a reference page on your site from a web search, leaves the page available in the browser while completing other tasks in other browser windows and the session times out.
% New Visits: 60.36%
The percent of your viewers that are new.
I hope this helps break down the numbers for you. Google Analytics gives you a lot of information for your blog. But the information is useless if you don't know what you are looking at. 
Please remember to use these numbers to make your writing better, not as a bar or standard for where you should be as a blogger. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Highlight of the Week

Today we are highlighting one of the post from the Weekly Writing Prompts. Sarah is one of the bloggers here at Voices with a huge heart, and a huge gift for inspiring others. I hope you enjoy her post as much as we did!

Recently I wrote about contentment - about how it is something that can be quite a struggle for me to find in life.  My husband and I began discussing this at length after the post went up.  In a good way though.  Here's what came up:
How much of our discontentment is our own making??
I could sit and think about that for a long while and I could come up with an exhaustive list of "yeah, buts".  You know what I mean?  Yeah, but we have a special needs child.  Yeah, but we have to arrange for a nurse.  Yeah, but there's so much stuff to bring.  Yeah, but we don't have the money.  Yeah, but our family isn't "normal" like everyone else's.  
Do you see what that does??
You can "yeah, but" your way through life and it is not going to add one ounce of happiness to it.  Not one bit.  Not one bit of contentment.
I shared with you yesterday some of the areas of discontent in my life.  Most of which come down to the fact that our family is not "typical".  We're not "normal".  We have a special needs/medically fragile child which adds a whole other dimension to our ability to do things.
Out of the discussion with my husband came these things:
* We need to recognize that we have so much to be grateful for.  I try to do this as well as I can each Thursday here on my blog, but maybe my best effort hasn't happened yet.  Maybe I need to try harder.
* Even though our family isn't typical, we are a family and we are allowed to do things.  Peyton is the one person of the four of us to whom none of this matters.  She lives life pretty happily despite being continuously sick.  She is a happy child.  Yes, she gets fussy, but she doesn't have the deep-rooted concerns that the rest of us have.  It makes me wonder, if she's not stressing out about her situation, should we??
* We are allowed to do things as a threesome while ensuring proper care at home for Peyton.  I need to let go of the guilt and the hurt I feel when I think about how Peyton can't participate or won't ever be able to do the things that Moira can and will.  I need to set that aside and go to the beach or go to the zoo or do things with Moira for her enjoyment without being consumed with the absence of Peyton from those activities.
* While life in our world can be isolating {and it truly can be in and of itself}, we need to stop putting ourselves in situations that intentionally isolate ourselves.  Stop making excuses for the things we think we can't do and do them!
* Turn our "church faces" into our "real faces".  You know what I am talking about?  Your "church face" - that face you put on the second you exit your vehicle to enter into your church so that everyone in the building sees you as this content and joyful person - so that they don't look at you and see the stress, worry, concerns, hurt, anger, misery and other negative emotions you've been wallowing in up to the point you parked your vehicle!  Stop allowing all the negativity to overtake the joy that you are rightfully able to experience!
* Yes, there will be times when things are legitimately difficult - that is a given - and they will happen frequently, because such is the nature of a family like ours.  But don't create difficulties where they shouldn't or don't exist!  Try to do something positive in the family or for yourself that will bring about feelings of happiness and contentment...every day.
For me, I try to say that it's not about keeping up with the Joneses because the Joneses probably don't have a special needs child.  But I need to stop putting myself in this cell of isolation that purposely keeps me from getting out there and being the person that God intended for me to be.  I know He wants me to be happy and He has given me so many blessings in my life that should be making me a lot more content than I generally feel.  I'm not saying that I am discontented with life in general, nor am I saying that it's all the time.  There are just areas of life where things are difficult because of our situation.  I just need to recognize that those areas were not given to me to cause me discouragement.  They were placed in my life for a purpose.  It is up to me to do a better job of reacting to situations in such a way that it doesn't leave me with those feelings of discontent.
Just another part of the journey.
Wish me luck!

Remember link up, or email (voicescharleston at gmail dot com) your prompt inspired writings for a chance to be highlighted.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Olympics {Weekly Writing Prompt}

 Welcome to Voices: Write to be Heard weekly writing prompt!  After you have written a post or article inspired by our writing prompt, link up so we can all read each other’s work.  Remember, even if you aren’t a blogger, writing prompts are great practice, or start a blog so you can link up with us! 
Happy Writing,
The Olympics are pretty inspiring, aren't they?  I always feel my heart swell with pride when I hear the national anthem played.  The amount of training and sacrifice by the athletes is mind blowing. 
Writing prompts are like training for us as writers.  They should stretch you and expand you.  If an Olympian only ran or swam or jumped at the level they were comfortable with, they would never improve.  They same is true with writing.  If you only write what comes easy, your writing will never improve.
This week take some inspiration from the Olympic Games.  What is your favorite sport to watch?  How does watching the games make you feel?  In what sport do you wish you could take home the gold?   Or, do you even care about who wins a medal and who doesn’t?

Thank you for the picture.