Are You Up For the Unfollow A Blog Challenge? Help Me Raise £250 For The British Red Cross Ukrainian Crisis Appeal.

In my recent blog post, ‘Are You One Of The Victims Of This Time-Wasting Blogging Trap‘, I mentioned a subject many bloggers do not like talking about – unfollowing blogs.

In the comments section of the post, I challenged James from the blog PerfectManifesto.com to write a post outlining why he unfollows blogs.

James duly took up my challenge and published a post, ’10 Reasons Why I Unfollow Your Blog.’ Click the link below to read his post.

10 Reasons Why I Unfollow Your Blog

Now I’m challenging you to write a post outlining why you unfollow blogs.

If you’re somebody who has never unfollowed a blog, write a post outlining the reasons why you’ve never unfollowed any blogs.

Include a pingback in your post to this post or my post ‘Are You One Of The Victims Of This Time-wasting Blogging Trap.’

Not sure how to create a pingback. Click here for full details.

Alternatively, copy and paste the URL address of your post into the comments section of this post.

The only rule is that your post must be published on your blog by 31st May 2022.

For every blogger who takes up my challenge, I will donate £5 (up to a maximum of £250) to the British Red Cross Ukrainian Crisis Appeal. Click here for full details.

Image of the word Ukraine in the national colours of Ukraine
Image by Muhammad Syafrani from Pixabay

Think of all the challenges the people of Ukraine are facing. Now think about the challenge I’ve set you that will help me raise £250 to help some of those people.

The challenge is open until 31st May 2022. However, you can still write and publish a post for the challenge after this date.

And if you do not want to take up my challenge, please consider donating to the British Red Cross Ukrainian Crisis Appeal.

Thank you. I look forward to reading your posts.

Copyright © 2022 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Are You Struggling To Get People To Your Blog? These 7 Free Methods Will Help

You’ve written and published your best ever blog post, yet hardly anyone is reading it or leaving you any comments. What are you doing wrong?

Blog Post Banner for the blog post 'Are You Struggling To Get People To Your Blog? These 7 Free Methods Will Help'
Struggling to find readers and get engagement?

I remember how disappointed I would get when posts I’d taken days to write got hardly any visits or comments. I felt as if I was talking to myself. I had to find ways to promote my blog without spending any cash.

Here are seven methods I use that help me promote my blog for free and have bought me amazing results.

1. Linking Up

There are generous bloggers out there who are always on the lookout for links to your blog posts. They want to help you promote your blog posts for free. Yes, for free!

Many run weekly link-up parties where they encourage other bloggers to leave a link to one of their blog posts.

These link-ups can attract hundreds of links. Many lead readers to interesting articles such as recipes, blogging and writing tips, health tips, music, reviews, arts and crafts, short stories. The list is endless.

By participating in a link-up party and adding a link to your post, you’ll see increased visitors to your blog and comments being left on your posts.

However, the general rule is to click at least one link from another blogger and read and share their post for every link you leave. Leave a comment if you’ve something to say that adds value to the discussion.

If you’re lucky enough to get your link and blog post featured the following week, it could bring even more visitors to your blog. As it happens, it’s happened to me this week.

Image showing a comment informing me that the post I left a link for at a link-up party has won and will be featured.
Featured Blog Post

Here are a couple of link-up parties I regally participate in. Click on the buttons for more details.

My posts have been featured several times in these link-up parties, resulting in more traffic to my blog and more comments on my posts that were featured.

2. Blog Parties

Similar to link-up parties, blog parties are a great way to promote your blog to other bloggers and for you to discover new blogs to follow. The host will ask you to introduce yourself in the comments section, mingle with other participants and leave a link to your blog or to one of your own blog posts.

Unlike link-up parties, which tend to be held on the same day every week, blog parties tend to happen much less regally.

When I first started blogging, I’ve hosted and participated in blog parties. I always found them to be successful and beneficial.

The rule is if you leave a link to your blog, then you must at least visit some of the blogs of other people at the party. It’s another free way to promote you and one of your blog posts and make some new friends in the blogging community.

3. Pingbacks

A pingback is a link inserted into a post that takes the reader to another web page when clicked. They are used to connect to another website or blog post where the subject is similar to the post being read or when introducing or referring to someone. I’ve used pingbacks in this post.

Search engine optimisations such as Google and Bing rank posts containing pingbacks higher than those that don’t include pingbacks. However, beware of broken pingbacks in your blog posts because they have the reverse effect, and SEO’s will downgrade the posts.

If you link to another blogger’s post via a pingback, it will appear as a link to your blog post in the comments section of the post you are connecting to. Here’s an image of a pingback I created that appeared on the blog post I was linking to.

Image of what a pingback looks like in the comments sections of a blog
Pingback

Anybody clicking on the pingback will be taken to the post it appears on.

However, not all bloggers allow pingbacks, so they may not appear in the comments section.

If pingbacks are allowed, the blogger you linked to may come back and thank you for linking to their post. In return, some may link up to one of your blog posts. However, nobody is under any obligation to do so.

You can also use a pingback to link back to one of your own blog posts. However, only do this if the post’s subject is similar to what you are connecting to.

Never insert links to your own posts (or those of other bloggers) if there is no clear theme to the post you are linking to, as this comes over as spammy.

Top Tip: Try and add at least one pingback to every post you publish. You’ll soon see results and benefits.

And don’t forget that you can also add pingbacks to images and photos on your blog posts. My blog post How To Make The Images In Your Blog Posts More Powerful gives full details.

Not sure how to create a pingback? Click here for a step by step guide.

4. Guest Blogging

Many bloggers are often on the lookout for guest bloggers.

I’ve written many guest posts that have put me, my blog and writing in front of new audiences.

I’ve had people write guest posts for my blog.

It’s a fantastic free way to get you and your blog in front of a brand new audience.

However, before you accept an invitation to write a guest post, ask yourself these questions.

  • Are you writing for the right audience?
  • Will their readers find your article interesting?
  • Are there any restrictions on word count?
  • Are there any restrictions on what you can write about?
  • Is the blogger you’re writing the post for asking for anything in return?

When spending time deciding which blogs you’re going to write guest posts for, always ensure it’s going to be published in front of an audience that will want to read more of your posts and visit your blog.

Don’t be afraid of approaching other bloggers to ask if they accept guest posts. You’ll be amazed at how many bloggers take guest posts even though they don’t advertise it.

5. Social Media

The sharing buttons at the bottom of blog posts are free to use, so every blogger should make good use of them.

Tip: WordPress has a feature that will automatically share your posts to your social media accounts. Click here to find out the details.

My recommendation is not to have more than a couple of primary social media accounts (so as not to spread yourself too thinly). However, you should always share your posts on all your social media platforms. 

Likewise, share the posts of other bloggers on your social media platforms. In turn, some may share your posts on their social media channels. This can result in lots of new visitors to your blog.

Take a look at the following screenshot that shows where most of the traffic to my blog comes from.

Screenshot showing the sites where most of the traffic and referrals come from to Hugh's Views And News
This is how powerful social media is at bringing traffic to your blog

I’ve highlighted the social media platforms that have sent traffic to my blog.

It proves that social media is a fantastic place for promoting your blog posts and the posts of other bloggers for free.

Social media can demand a lot of time to work correctly (that’s why I recommended that you should have no more than a couple of primary social media accounts). I’ve found that the more time I give a social media platform, the better the results are in getting traffic from it.

6. Leaving Comments

No doubt leaving good quality comments that add value to other blog posts will get readers to your blog. Plus, it’s free to do.

Whenever I see a great comment that asks questions or has added value to a post, I will visit the person’s blog who left the comment. If they’ve left a comment that was interesting to read, they’ll probably be publishing blog posts that are interesting to read.

Beware of leaving too many short comments that add no value because those comments can have the reverse effect. Comments such as ‘Great Post’ or ‘Thanks for writing this’ or just a line of emojis look spammy.

You want your blog to look like it’s a place of good quality and interesting blog posts, don’t you? Then leave good quality and interesting comments on the posts of other bloggers.

7. Take Up A Challenge

Blog challenges can be found all over the blogging world. They usually come in the form of a writing or photography challenge (others are also available).

Hosted by other bloggers, not only can they get your creative cogs producing great blog posts, but they also help in that they put you in front of a whole new audience for free!

Using a pingback, you link your post back to the post of the blogger hosting the challenge. Once there, your pingback will attract other readers and participants to your blog.

Many blog challenge hosts will promote those who have participated by including them in a round-up post. Some also reblog some of the entries. Other participants will also visit and comment on the post you published for the challenge. They may even follow your blog!

Here’s a list of some of the blog challenges I participate in. Click on the buttons to find out more details.

Every time I participate in a blog challenge, not only do I get lots of traffic and more comments on my blog but I get new followers too.

Let’s wrap it up

  • You don’t need to spend cash to promote your blog. There are lots of free ways to promote it.
  • Never feel ashamed or frightened of promoting your blog.
  • Search engine optimisations rank posts high if they include pingbacks. Ensure every blog post you write includes at least one pingback.
  • Don’t forget that you can add pingbacks to photos and images on blog posts.
  • Make good use of the sharing buttons at the bottom of your posts and the posts of other bloggers.
  • Make sure you share your blog posts on all your social media accounts.
  • Join link-up and blog parties, but remember to visit the blogs of other participants, read their posts and leave them comments. They’ll return your visit.
  • Before accepting an invitation to write a guest blog post, make sure you’ll be writing it for the right audience.
  • Don’t be afraid of asking other bloggers if they accept guest blog posts or if they’d like to write a guest post for publication on your blog.
  • Participating in blog challenges are an excellent way to promote your blog. Plus, challenges can spark new ideas for posts and are a great way of putting you in touch with other bloggers and finding a new audience.
  • Leaving good quality comments on other blogs is one of the easiest ways of promoting your blog. Other readers will be intrigued as to who you are and what you write about.

What do you do to promote your blog for free? Have you tried any of the methods I’ve outlined in this post? What were the results?  

Join Hugh on social media. Click on the buttons below.

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

What’s Life Like From The Inside? #SundayStills #photography

I’m delighted to be hosting the Sunday Stills photography challenge again while host Terri Webster Schrandt continues her blogging break.

Banner for the Sunday Stills photography challenge

This week’s theme: Inside.

When I took this photo a few weeks ago, I wondered if there would be any signs of life from the inside of a raindrop.

Life inside a raindrop

Look closely. What do you see?

I was surprised by what I saw. Small air bubbles inside each one. Does that mean there are signs of life inside every raindrop?

There were no signs of life inside this restaurant, but that doesn’t mean that life doesn’t exist inside empty places, does it? Who knows what kinds of life continues inside places that are empty of human life.

Are there any signs of life from the inside?

Yet inside some objects, there can be a whole lot going on without any signs of movement.

Life from inside a snow-globe

And you don’t always need to be inside to be inside something. Can you spot the circle of life and the people inside it on this photo?

Life from Inside a circle

For some, the best time to be inside is when it’s time for a nap.

One of Austin’s favourite places is being inside his bed.

How to participate in the Sunday Stills photography challenge.

  • Please create a new post for the theme.
  • Title the post a little differently than mine.
  • Don’t forget to create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments. Not sure how to create a pingback? Click here for details.
  • Entries for this theme can be shared all week (not just on a Sunday). Use the hashtag #SundayStills for sharing on social media.

I’m looking forward to seeing all your entries for this week’s Sunday Stills photography challenge. Thank you to everyone who joined me for the Sunday Stills photography challenge for the last two weeks.

Next week, Terri will be back hosting Sunday Stills.

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

The Entertainment Files – Show Us Some Doors

Welcome back to The Entertainment Files, a new feature on my blog where I hope to bring readers some humour, laughter, music, entertainment and challenges.

#entertainment #music #laughter #comedy

Today I’m featuring a photography challenge which I’ve participated in many times, although not recently. 

Created and hosted by Norm at Norm 2.0, Thursday Doors has been running for many years and attracts a lot of participants. I’ve discovered many new blogs to follow by participating. 

In Norm’s own words –

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

You don’t have to be a photographer to participate. Anyone can join in with the challenge, so have a look through your photo archives and share some of your favourite doors with hundreds of other bloggers. 

Here’s my featured door for this week.  

Is it a door within a door? What do you think of it? 

Click here to join lots of other bloggers with this week’s Thursday Doors challenge and to find out more information.

If you decide to join in, have fun with the challenge and feel free to leave a link to your Thursday’s Doors blog post in the comments section. Don’t forget to also leave a link to your Thursday Doors blog post on Norm’s post.

We’re looking forward to seeing what doors you come up with.  

Looking for more entertainment? Click on ‘The Entertainment Files‘ on the menu bar.

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Blogging Challenges: Do They Work?

I’ve always been a fan of blogging challenges, whether it be to write something or to take a picture of something inline with a prompt or theme set by another blogger. 

Not only can these challenges improve the way you write or take photos, but they put you in touch with lots of other bloggers, all focusing on the same challenge.

Recently, one blogging challenge has got me on a new road to the way I write fiction; a path I thought I’d never travel. 

Not only have I been amazed by the results of this new writing journey, but so have many of my readers. They’ve given me valuable feedback about the new way I’m writing. 

How did it start? 

In the second week of January 2020, after Charli Mills published her 99-word flash fiction prompt, Doug, Sophie and Mike were created in my mind. 

Given that I intended to say goodbye to these three characters after pressing the ‘publish’ button, I was surprised they reemerged the following week.

If you don’t know Charli Mills and the 99-word flash fiction challenge she publishes every Thursday, then take a look at her blog and introduce yourself. Better still, join in with hundreds of other writers who participate in the 99-word flash fiction challenge every week. Click here for details.  

This was the challenge Charli set that week. 

January 9th, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a carried wife. Why is she being carried? Who is carrying? Pick a genre if you’d like and craft a memorable character. Go where the prompt leads!

#flashfiction #shortstory
Image credit: Charli Mills

Enter Doug, who is carrying his new wife, Sophie, over the threshold of their honeymoon suite. 

Everything looks merry and happy for the newlyweds, but not all is as it seems. Two floors below, a secret festers. That’s where Mike comes into the story. 

I’d given this piece of flash fiction a twist which not only did I love but so did many of my readers. Result! 

You can read the piece I wrote for the challenge by clicking here.

Only having 99-words to play with made this a tough challenge, but I had no idea that Doug, Sophie and Mike would reappear again the following week.

This is the challenge Charli published the following week. 

January 16th, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a protest story. It can be about a protest, or you can investigate the word and expand the idea. Who is protesting, where, and why? Go where the prompt leads! 

#flashfiction
Image Credit: Charli Mills

When I read the prompt, Doug, Sophie and Mike came into my mind. Should I carry on their story from where I had left them the week before, or should I create a brand new story?

It wasn’t long before I had the answer, although it was with the help of those three characters. However, I was about to make the 99-word flash fiction challenge even harder for myself.

How I turned a 99-word flash fiction challenge into something even more challenging. 

Given that I had three characters who all wanted to give their point-of-view of what was going on, I had to spilt the number of words I could use between all three. That gave me only 33 words to play with for each character.

At first, that seemed like an even tougher challenge than writing a piece of flash fiction in only 99 words, but with Doug, Sophie and Mike firmly embedded in my mind, I decided to take up my new challenge. 

Fast forward a few more weeks, and I found myself writing pieces of fiction in a completely different style to what I’d been used to. It was as if I’d unlocked a door to a new writing gift. 

#ThursdayDoors

I’d always thought that writers were in full control of the direction of their stories. However, here I was not in complete control of what was going to happen to Doug, Sophie and Mike each week. 

Every time I published the next part of their story, I had to wait for Charli to post the next prompt, of which I knew absolutely nothing about until publication.

During week seven of the challenge, I’d thought I’d have to call it a day and concede defeat. This was the challenge Charli published that week. 

February 20th, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a library cat named Rainbow who escapes. Use this situation to write what happens next. Where does this situation take place, and who else might be involved? Go where the prompt leads! 

As Doug, Sophie and Mike were all based in a hotel, how on earth was I going to include a library cat named Rainbow into the story?

I also thought that a cat named Rainbow was something that was more suitable to a story in a children’s book (not one that had included spiking drinks, sleeping around, and lies).

Rainbow, the cat, proved to be a big problem for me, but I wasn’t going to allow this challenge to defeat me.

After a long, hard think about the challenge, I duly sat down, wrote something and wondered if my audience would like the new direction the story was about to take.

Given that I’ve published one more episode since Rainbow the cat first appeared (and I’ve another new episode lined up), I’ll let you be the judge of whether the introduction of a cat named Rainbow into the story was a success. 

Click here to read part one of the story, and follow the links to each part.

The icing on the cake

Last week, I received an email from a reader who ended their email with this –

 ‘…and I’ll continue to watch (with bated breath) how Doug, Sophie and Mike are doing.’ 

Not only do those few words tell me something, but I think they say it all. 

Thank you to Charli Mills who publishes her 99-word flash fiction challenge every week.

Not only do her blogging challenges help improve the way I write but they have now pushed me to think differently about the way I write.

Click here to read this week’s writing challenge from Charli.

#writer #blogger #author #flashfiction #shortstories
Author, writer, blogger, and head of the writing community at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills

And a big thank you to all the other bloggers who publish blogging challenges. You’re doing such an excellent service for the blogging community.

Do you publish a weekly or monthly blogging challenge on your blog? If so, leave a link to it in the comments section.

 Do you participate in blogging challenges? If so, which ones? Have they worked for you and changed the way you write or take photos? Have you had any success with them or do you think they’re a waste of time? Join the discussion and share your thoughts in the comments section.

Turning Point #flashfiction

January 30, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a postal carrier in an extreme situation. Even if you base your story on a true one, focus on the core trait of this postal carrier. Go where the prompt leads!


Putting his right hand into the trouser pocket of his postal carrier uniform, Mike felt the outline of the handle of the revolver. He knew his jealousy was forcing an extreme situation to develop.

***

Two floors above, Sophie wished she could wish herself back to the postal depot where she and Mike worked, so she could escape the extreme situation Doug was putting her in.

***

Just before deciding now was the right time to smother Sophie’s face with the pillow; he was holding, Doug’s vision became a little blurry. Why had Sophie put them both in this extreme situation?


Image credit: Charli Mills

Click here to read the first part of the story and follow the links back to this part.

Click here to read the next part of the story.

Written in response to the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch.

Click here to join other writers participating in the challenge.

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

15:30 to Midnight #flashfiction

January 23, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a park bench. Use this gif to choose a timeframe and write the story behind that particular scene. Use the time as your title. Go where the prompt leads!


Sophie wished that right now she still had the knife she had used to inscribe their names on the park bench where she and Doug had first met.

***

Doug’s mind wandered back to their first date. It was a bunch of flowers he had held in his hands at 15:30 that day. Now, here he was holding an oversized bed pillow in front of Sophie. He wondered if their names were still inscribed on the park bench.

***

Two floors below, Mike thought about the park bench where he and Sophie had first made love at the stroke of midnight.


Image credit: Charli Mills

Click here to read the first part of the story and follow the links back to this part.

Click here to read the next part of the story.

Written in response to the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch.

Click here to join other writers participating in the challenge.

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Honeymoon #flashfiction

January 9, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a carried wife. Why is she being carried? Who is carrying? Pick a genre if you’d like and craft a memorable character. Go where the prompt leads!


While carrying his new wife over the threshold of the honeymoon suite, Doug’s eyes lit up at the size of the massive bed in front of him.

Those pillows were big enough to suffocate his new wife for cheating on him.

***

Landing on the bed, Sophie looked at her new husband and wondered how long it would be before the spiked drink she had made Doug consume, would knock him out cold so she could spend the night with Mike, Doug’s best friend.

***

Two floors below, Mike wondered which of the newlyweds would be joining him in bed tonight.


Written in response to the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch.

Click here to join other writers participating in the challenge.

Click here to read part two of the story.

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.