Did You Miss Any Of These? Monthly Round-Up – October 2021

  • These 7 free methods of promoting your blog will get people reading your posts and leaving you comments.

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

  • This year’s trip to Brighton beach would very different for Adrian. But were the answers to the rest of his life without Richard in front of him?

A Matter Of Life And Death

  • Does a game of Sardines hold secrets Richard doesn’t want his husband to know anything about?

Sardines

  • Wanted: Detectives and readers to help solve a mystery many have already tried to solve. Read the post for more details.

Can You Solve The Mystery Of A Blackmailed Missing Husband And Father?

  • This is the reason why you should think twice before responding to calls for help coming from behind certain doors.

Thursday Doors – The October Door

  • Are you following too many blogs? 7 common mistakes to look out for before following a blog.

7 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Deciding Whether To Follow A Blog

  • Now there’s an easy way to add PDF files to your blog posts on WordPress. Blogging expert Natalie Ducey shows us how.

Reblog: How To Upload A PDF File In WordPress For Viewing And Easy Downloading

  • What’s buried in the thick mud?

Buried

  • Are you making use of pinned tweets to help drive traffic to your blog?

Pinned Tweets: Why Every Blogger Should Have OneTo Help Drive Traffic To Their Blog

Comments are closed here. Please leave any new comments on the original posts.

***

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Monthly Round-Up October 2021

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Copyright © 2021 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?

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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?  

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Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Is This New WordPress Block The Best Way To Help Promote Your Blog For Free?

Every blogger should be active on at least one other social media platform besides blogging. Why? Because it’s a free way to get you, your blog and your books in front of new audiences.

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Looking to promote your blog for free?

Unless you tell your readers what social media platforms you’re on, then they’ll probably only find you by chance. That’s why you should do all you can to promote where your readers can also find you and your books.

WordPress has made the ‘Social Icons’ widget into a block that makes it easy to advertise your social media accounts on your blog posts and pages. And, best of all, once you’ve created it, with a single click, you can add it to every blog post and page. 

The ‘Social Icons‘ block takes away the ‘probably’ and does the job perfectly.

Let’s get started. Here’s how to create your ‘Social Icons’ block. 

  • The ‘Social Icons’ block can be added to a new blog post (or one you’ve already published).
  • Click the ‘add new block button’.
  • Search for the block by adding ‘social icons’ in the search-bar.
  • Click the ‘Social Icons’ block to add it to your post.
Screenshot highlighting the three steps to find and add the 'Social Icons
Where to find the ‘Social Icons’ block
  • Next, follow the instructions on the following image to start adding social media icons to the block. I’ve also listed the instructions under the image.
Screenshot highlighting how to add social media icons to the social icons block on WordPress
Adding your social media accounts to the block
  • Click the ‘plus’ sign just above the window that shows social icons images.
  • Use the search-bar to find social icons.
  • Click on the social icons you want to add to the block.
  • For a full list of available social icons, click on ‘Browse all.’

In my case, I’ve added social icons for Twitter, WordPress, Amazon, Goodreads and Flipboard. 

Screenshot showing the social icons added to the social icons block on WordPress
Social icons on the social icons block

Useful Tip: Use the ‘link‘ icon for any social icons WordPress does not have icons for. I’ve done this for my Flipboard account.

Screenshot highlighting the 'link' icon on WordPress
No social media icon? No problem!

Note: Until you’ve linked your social media accounts to the icons, they will be ‘ghosted’ out.

  • To link your social media accounts to each icon, click on each icon and copy and paste the URL address of the relevant social media account in the bar that appears. 
Screenshot showing how to add a social media account to a social icon on WordPress
Adding your social media accounts to the social icons
  • Remember to always click the ‘Apply’ button after adding each account. 

As you add each address, the icon will no longer be ‘ghosted’ out. 

Now you’ve added and linked your social media accounts to all icons, it’s time to choose a few more features. You’ll find these on the righthand side of the screen when clicking on the ‘Social Icons’ block you’ve created. Here’s a screenshot of what you’ll see and some features I’ve highlighted.

Screenshot showing the different options available on the Social Icons block on WordPress
Social icons features

The features include –

  • The style of each icon. In my case I chose the ‘Pill’ shape for the icons.
  • The option of wether a new window opens when somebody clicks on one of the icons.
  • Choice of colours for the icons

I highly recommend that you switch on the ‘Open links in new tab‘ feature so that the page your reader is on when clicking on the icons does not close down. After all, you don’t want anybody leaving your blog when clicking on one of the icons, do you?

Can the size of the social icons be changed?

Yes. Click the ‘Size’ button in the ‘social Icons’ block’s toolbar to change the size of the icons.

Screenshot highlighting where to change the size of the social icons on the social icons block on WordPress
Changing the size of your social media icons

You can also change the alignment and the items justification of the icons in the block’s toolbar. 

How to turn your ‘Social Icon’ block into a reusable block.

If you want to add your ‘Social Icons’ block with just one click onto all your blog posts (and I recommend you do), you’ll need to make the block reusable. My post How To Add A Reusable Block To A WordPress Blog Using The Gutenberg Editor gives full details on how to do this, but here’s an image that quickly outlines the details.

Screenshot that gives quick details on how create a reusable block on WordPress
Creating a reusable block

Any edits or updates you do to a reusable block are applied everywhere you’ve used the block. Therefore, if any of your social media accounts get a new URL address, all you need to do is edit the address in the reusable block. You don’t need to visit and make the changes on every blog post where the block appears. Reusable blocks are excellent for adding details of your books to blog posts especially when doing occasional special deals on them.

  • Finally, most importantly, make sure the icons in the block work and go to the correct social media accounts before using the block on your posts.

Let’s Wrap It Up

  • Social media is one of the best ways to promote your blog and books for free.
  • Use the ‘social icons’ block to promote your social media accounts and let readers know where to find you.
  • The ‘social icons’ block is easy to set up and use. Follow the guide in this post.
  • Use the ‘link’ icon to crate a button for social media platforms WordPress does not offer an icon for.
  • To stop readers leaving your blog when clicking on your ‘social Icons’ block, make sure the ‘open links in new tab’ button is switched on.
  • Turn your ‘social icons’ block into a reusable block that can be inserted on all posts and pages with just one click.
  • Any changes you make to your ‘social icons’ reusable block will be implemented wherever the block appears. No need to make the changes on every post!

And here is my ‘Social Icons’ block.

Go ahead and click on the buttons and follow me on my other social media platforms.

Are you using the ‘Social Icons’ block?

Any questions? Leave them in the comments section and I’ll get back to you.

Layout, content, settings and format might differ on self-hosted blogs.

Looking for more blogging tips? Check out these recent posts from Hugh.

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

How Do You Respond To The Comments Left On Your Blog?

I recently asked the following question on Twitter. 

Blogging question

And I got great answers back. 

Suzanne at Life At No. 22
Bree from 3 Sisters Abroad
Caroline from BellesMot200DotCom
Debbie at Deb’s World
Liesbet at Roaming About
James from Perfect Manifesto

I love James’ reply because he refers to something called a lazy response. We’ll look at those further on in this post.

Chris at BoomingOn
D at ShiftnShake
  • Gilda said

I’ve been involved in some great discussions on Twitter. This one inspired this post.

How did all this start?

It all started when I came across a tweet from an indie author advertising one of his books.

While checking out his Twitter profile, I noticed that one of the right things he’d done was to include a link to his blog. His books looked interesting, so I decided to check out his blog and engage with him.

However, several weeks later, he had not acknowledged or responded to any comments or questions left on his blog posts. Yet he remained active by publishing new blog posts a couple of times a week.

This got me thinking not only about bloggers who do not respond to comments, but some of the responses I often see – those lazy responses that James referred to.  

Now I know it’s up to each blogger how they handle comments left on their posts, but am I the only blogger who finds that not responding to comments is a strange occurrence?

After all, leaving good meaningful comments does seem to work. Take a look at Marsha’s response to some comments I’d left on one of her blog posts.

Short comments – do you like them?

What do you think about comments such as  Great PostNice Story, or Lovely photos? Have you left comments like those or asked yourself ‘why don’t they tell us what made it a great post, nice story, or what it was that made those photos lovely ?  

How to respond to short comments

Reader – “Great post.”

Me – “Thanks!”

Reader – “You’re welcome.” 

Are those comments beneficial or should they be deleted?

Why do readers’ leave ‘Great post’ comments?

  • Is it because they’re trying to read and leave comments on too many blog posts in too little time?
  • Do they feel guilty if not leaving any kind of comment on a post they read so short ones will do?
  • Is it because they haven’t really read the post? 
  • Is it because they don’t have the time to get into any discussion about the topic of the post?
  • Is it because what they were going to say has already been said by somebody else?

What are lazy responses?

For me, they’re the types of responses that let all the air out of your blogging balloon. You’ve left a great comment that opens up for a discussion about the post you’ve just read, but all you get back is a ‘Thank you for your comment.’

How deflated does that kind of response make you feel when you left a comment that asks questions and opens up a discussion?

I believe this is what James was referring to in his answer to my question on Twitter. But is a lazy response any better than no response at all?

  • Maybe you’re somebody who doesn’t mind getting and leaving short comments. Are there any reasons why you leave them?
  • What are the benefits of leaving short comments?
  • Maybe you’re somebody who doesn’t like getting into discussions on your blog posts?
  • Are there any benefits to leaving lazy responses?  
  • If I told you that I delete any comments that only include emojis or words such as ‘Great post‘, would you think I was being too harsh?

Finally, this reply to my question on Twitter really got my attention. 

What do you think about Lydia’s answer? Do people really care whether you respond to their comments or not?

How would you respond to the question I asked on Twitter? Do you like getting into discussions when replying to comments on your blog posts? Let’s cary on the discussion here. Join the conversation by leaving me a comment.

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

How To Connect Your Twitter Account To Your WordPress Blog via The New WordPress Dashboard

WordPress is moving more and more options that were only initially available via the WP Admin button to the new style dashboard on WordPress.Com blogs. 

It’s something I’ve noticed happening a lot and makes perfect sense while they improve security, and update and redesign their platform. 

You may ask “What are these options, Hugh?

Well, I’ve decided to update some of my older posts where the WP Admin button was used so that I can show you how to make the same changes via the new style WordPress dashboard.

I’m kicking off with one of my pet hates – bloggers who haven’t connected their Twitter account to their WordPress blog. 

Blogging tips from Hugh

For me, Twitter is a great place to give my blog posts some free publicity. And who doesn’t like some free publicity?

Twitter is also an excellent place for promoting blog posts I’ve enjoyed reading, and is the third biggest referrer of traffic to my blog.  

Have you come across this problem?

You click the Twitter sharing button on a blog post you’ve enjoyed reading, and instead of the blogger’s Twitter username appearing at the end of the tweet, you see @WordPress.Com instead!

Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Why does it happen? 

Because the blogger has not connected their Twitter account to their blog.

Of course, they may not know they can connect it or just haven’t done it.

But it’s a problem that’s easy and quick to fix.

Let’s get started. 

  • On the dashboard of your blog, click on Tools and then on Marketing.
Click on Tools and Marketing
  • On the Marketing and Integrations page that opens, click on Sharing Buttons.
Click on sharing buttons
  • In the Options block, look for the Twitter Username box and add your Twitter username in the box.
Enter your Twitter username in the box
  • Click the Save Changes button.

There is one last job you need to do to connect your Twitter account to your blog.

  • On the Marketing and Integrations page, click on Connections and click the connect button next to Twitter.
Click on the Twitter connect button

A new window will open.

  • Click on the Authorize App button. 

WordPress will look for your Twitter account, and in an onscreen message will show you your Twitter user name.

  • If the username is correct, click on the Connect button.
Click on the connect button
  • Your Twitter account is now connected to your WordPress blog. 

Now, every time you publish a new blog post, it will be shared on your Twitter account. Your Twitter username will also appear at the end of the tweet.

Layout, content, settings and format might differ on self-hosted blogs.

Are you on Twitter? Leave your Twitter username in the comments section so we can follow you.

Click here to follow me on Twitter 

Any questions?

Don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section.

Did you enjoy reading this post? Then you may also enjoy…

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Have You Lost Your Desire To Write?

I’ve witnessed many people saying that they seem to have lost their writing mojo since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Likewise, it happened to me. 

I don’t know what it was, but I didn’t feel in the mood to write any forms of specific creativity. 

I couldn’t even bring myself to look at any of the drafts I had for new short stories, or even the two books I have in my computer’s archives. 

My desire to delve into them had taken a vacation that had no end date.

I had no idea why it was happening. Then I put something to the test. 

Like many, I’d found myself reading blog posts that had a ‘doom and gloom’ theme to them. 

The majority of those posts, of course, were COVID-19 related. 

However, since cutting down on the number of COVID-19 blogs posts I read, my writing mojo seems to occasionally show signs of returning.

I can sometimes see it waving at me before disappearing again. I was never any good at ‘hide & seek.’ I was always the first one to be found and could never find anybody.

When my writing mojo does appear, I do all I can to grab it by the horns and get writing. 

Writing something – anything – makes me feel good. In fact, it makes my day!

This led me to seek out more and more blog posts that contain positivity, laughter, humour and good news. Yes, despite what’s going on in today’s world, those happy blog posts are still out there.

Of course, not all COVID-19 related blog posts are full of doom and gloom. Some contain humour, so I haven’t cut myself entirely off from what’s going on in the world. I’ve even written a few myself, but so have many others. 

Yes, there is a COVID-19 connection in her post, but the video has made many readers smile and laugh. Thank you Willow, for giving me and many visitors to your blog a lift, and making our day with the video you shared. 

Then there are simple blog posts like the one from Elizabeth, at Tea & Pepper, which features a photo of something that brings joy to her moments of solitude. Her blog post made me smile and confirm to myself that everything will be OK. Click here to view Elizabeth’s post.

Social Media joins in with the humour

We mustn’t forget social media. It’s also playing its part in taking a bad situation and turning it into something that will make some of us smile.

Is now the perfect time to write?

You’d think that this moment in time would be perfect for writers and authors to get on with writing and editing their works-in-progress, especially given that many of us find ourselves at home. Yet, many have no urge to delve in and bring those pieces of fiction and creativity to life.

In a recent comment, I left on the blog of Cher Garman (The Chicago Files), I compared my current life to that of starting a new chapter in a book; a chapter in which I didn’t want to feature. Here’s what I said –

I look at the current situation we’re in as a chapter in a book, Cher. I’ll get to the end of that chapter soon, and a new one will begin. And, best of all, these chapters are a pathway to a happy ending.

The comment got me thinking, and I started to wonder if what is happening in the world today is only happening to me? 

  • Am I witnessing something that is a warning to only me? 
  • Are all of you out there just figures of my imagination?
  • Am I just a figure of your imagination? 
  • Are you watching a sci-fi movie of which I am the leading role?
#DoctorWho #television #scifi
  • Did I wake up one morning not realising that I had crossed over into a parallel universe?
  • Have we been put to sleep, and what is happening is a dream/nightmare we’re all experiencing at the same time?
  • Have I become the victim of one of my short stories because of all the scares they’ve given readers?

My creative desire to write may have hit a dead-end, but it seems my imagination is still in overdrive.

Thankfully, for me, it was only certain forms of writing I found myself struggling with. 

I’ve managed to continue to write and publish the weekly episodes featuring newlyweds Doug, Sophie and their friend Mike. And I’ve had no problems with posting my Wordless Wednesday featured photos.

A few weeks ago, I also started a new feature, The Entertainment Files, but all of these required only small amounts of writing. But, little steps lead to big success, don’t they?

After reading a blog post from Esther Chilton, I got those little steps moving and joined in with her request to write a limerick. What great fun that was, especially reading the limericks from other participants.

There was a young actress called Sheila

Who drove her friends mad with her new feature

A strange ring through her nose

As big as her big toes

Made her look like an outa space creature.

Hugh W. Roberts – 2020

Laughter is a medicine we all need at the moment.

Something else that also happened was that by way of a comment, I heard from another blogger who told me how they were trying to spread some positivity.

What a great idea in helping some individual bloggers move away from blogging about COVID-19 by challenging them to write something positive instead.

I may decide to challenge some of you, so watch out for some pingback notifications from me.

Do you still want blogging tips from me?

I’ve wondered if during these uncertain times if anybody wants to continue to read blogging and social media tips. Given I’ve had little appetite for reading any, is this something people still want to read on my blog?

Please let me know by leaving me a comment.

  • Are any of you finding that there has been a decline in engagement on your blogs since the COVID-19 pandemic began? 
  • Have the number of comments you usually get decreased in number or have the comments become shorter? 
  • Have you noticed a change in the writing styles and subjects from bloggers who typically write and publish about specific genres? 
  • Are you carrying on as usual and writing and publishing the same stuff you always do? 
  • Have you noticed other bloggers doing the same?  

It’s a strange world out there, but as I look out of the window, nature doesn’t seem to have stopped. There may be a lack of people, traffic and life outside, but everything else looks the same.  

Some believe that COVID-19 will change the way we all live our lives in the future. I wonder if it will also change the way many of us write? Or are these changes already happening? What do you think?

Just before publishing this post, I read an interesting blog post by Anne R. Allen which goes into much more detail as to why many writers are finding it tough to write at the moment. Anne gives some excellent advice on how to beat the slump. Click here to read her post.

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

5 Important Points To Consider When It Comes To Writing A Guest Blog Post

Writing a guest blog post is one of the most rewarding and credible things a blogger will ever get the chance to do.

Thinking of writing a guest blog post?

It can help propel you and your blog in front of thousands of new readers and followers. In some cases, it can also get you noticed by other publications which might be willing to pay you for your work.

As somebody who has had the honour of writing guest posts, there are some essential guidelines I follow before accepting an invitation to write for another blog.

Likewise, these points also act as a reminder when thinking about inviting other writers to write a post for my blog.

Am I being put in front of the right audience?

If you’re invited to write a guest post for another blog (and are not familiar with it), check out their blog posts and ask yourself if you are putting yourself in front of the right audience. 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

For example, a guest post about cake decorating is probably not going to be appreciated by an audience who is used to reading blog posts about science-fiction or horror.

Likewise, if the blogger asking you to write a guest post writes about a subject you’re not interested in, then you’re likely to struggle to come up with something they will accept, or something that will go down well with their audience.

Don’t waste your time writing for blogs that you know won’t work for you or your writing. Never be afraid to turn down an invitation to write a guest blog post that you have any doubts about writing.   

Ask your host if they have any requirements for guest posts.

Great! You’ve just accepted an invitation to write a guest post. However, don’t go off and write it before asking your host if they have any rules or guidelines about what they will and won’t accept. 

Don’t forget these –

For example –

  • They may have a word count limit or may require you to write about a particular subject. 
  • Is the word count limit too high or too low for what you have in mind? 
  • Do you really want to write a guest post about embarrassing, personal, health issues or the history of lampposts in your neighbourhood?
  • Do they want you to respond to any comments left on the post?
  • Do they allow pingbacks in guest posts to any of your other blog posts or those of other bloggers?
  • Do they allow affiliate links in guest posts? 
  • Is there a deadline to get your post to your host, and can you meet it?  
  • Do they expect you to return the favour and ask them to write a guest post for publication on your blog? 
  • What about the sharing of your guest post? Do they expect you to share it on your social media accounts or your blog?
  • Do they expect you to supply images/photos with your post, or will they be providing them? If so, who has the copyright for those images/photos when the post is published?

Check all the requirements first, even before accepting the offer to write a guest post. And don’t be afraid to turn down offers that you know will not work for you.   

Responding to comments.

For me, even if my host did not require me to respond to any or all comments left on my guest blog post, I’d still respond to all of them.

Why on earth would anyone want to ignore the audience of another blogger/writer? 

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Like many others, I enjoy reading and leaving comments and questions on guest posts. These posts can not only be an entertaining read but often teach me something new.  

I’ve recently left some comments and questions on guest posts and got no responses back. Not only did it make me feel like I was being ignored, but I thought how bad it made the host blogger look because his/her guest was ignoring his/her audience.

It doesn’t look good and can easily backfire on the host blogger.

If you’re a guest blogger, my recommendation is that you respond to all comments left on your guest posts. And this includes any questions or comments that come in months or even years later. 

Don’t ignore them just because your guest post was written and published several weeks/months/years ago. That’s like closing the door on readers who may be interested in buying your books or following your blog.  

If you’re hosting a guest blogger/writer, make it a requirement that your guest responds to all comments and questions left on the post. Why? Because time and time again, not responding to comments is the main reason why somebody may unfollow a blog or why a reader may not return.   

I’ve gone as far as to take down the guest post of somebody who, despite me repeatedly asking them, refused to respond to any of the comments or questions left on their guest post.

Don’t be afraid to take down a post.           

How to treat your host.

Regardless of whether or not you accept an invitation to write a guest post, always thank the person who approached you.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

You do not need to go into full details as to why you are not accepting an invitation, but it may help the host if you give them some information as to why you’ve decided not to write a guest post.

For example, you may be too busy or have already reached your quota of guest posts. 

However, don’t be afraid of giving them a reason so they do not keep sending you invitations. It’s better to be upfront with somebody than to keep turning them down again and again.    

Never feel under any obligation to return the favour and believe that you must ask your host to write a guest post for your blog.

Although I’ve never had anyone be upset with me for not asking them to write a guest post, I have heard of incidents where a host turns into a troll because they were not asked to write a guest post in return. 

And we all know how to deal with trolls, don’t we?

Sharing is caring

One way that I always find helps both my host and me when I’ve had a guest post published is to share the details on my social media sites. 

Image by Pixaline from Pixabay

When it comes to Twitter, I’ll pin the tweet to the top of my Twitter feed, so it does not slip down as I tweet more. It remains there for at least a week. 

I also ensure the Twitter username of the host is included in the tweet so that they are made aware that I’ve tweeted the post and how many times it gets retweeted.

Although I don’t always feel obliged to share my guest post on my blog, I always leave links to them on one of the pages of my blog (such as ‘My Books’ page). 

If I do share the guest post via ‘Press This’ (I no longer reblog posts), I always give it at least a week after publication before I share it on my blog.

This helps give the post a second boost after its original publication and stops duplication on the WordPress Reader and in the email boxes of readers.

Too much duplication of a post on the same day doesn’t look good, especially if it’s being seen by the same readers. Plus, SEOs such as Google rank duplicated posts lower.      

Final thoughts    

Last week, I updated and published a guest blog post I had initially been invited to write for Donna Connolly, who blogs at Retirement Reflections.

Although the post was originally published in April 2018, it went down well with my readers, some of whom had never read it before. 

Republishing guest posts (after updating them) not only put them in front of a new audience who may have followed you since the first publication, but it can also help fill a gap you have in your blogging schedule. 

If like me, you’ve written many guest posts, then you may have an archive full of hidden gems worth republishing. 

Do you have any guidelines you follow when asked to write a guest post or when asking another blogger to write a guest post for your blog? Share them in the comments section. 

Copyright © 2019 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

5 Ways I’ve Become A Better Blogger

At the end of July 2019, I came back from a six-week blogging break. It was, without a doubt, the most rewarding blogging break I had ever taken.

Here are the actions I implemented upon my return to blogging.

#blogging #bloggingtips #bloggers #blogginghelp

1 – Extending the time between writing and publishing posts.

Do you ever come across blog posts that you know have been rushed and published too quickly?

Looking back at some of the posts in my archives, I felt exactly that. When I reread them, I thought I had not given most of them enough time between the first draft and the publication date.

Had I taken my time and not published them for at least a few days after beginning them, I could have added so much more content and made changes to the post that I thought would have made it an even more interesting and engaging read.

Now, instead of writing and publishing a post on the same day, I’ve introduced a five-day window between the first draft and pressing the ‘publish’ button.

I’ve been amazed at how I can now transform a post I consider to be excellent, to one that goes even further in making it stand out from the thousands of other posts all published on the same day.

Has it worked? Yes, with great results. Since coming back from my blogging break, my recent posts have generated lots more traffic and comments to most of those I published before my blogging break.

I believe that much of that is down to the time I now give to drafting new posts.

How long do you take to write and edit a blog post before publishing it?

2 – I have unsubscribed from receiving emails from bloggers who publish more than one blog post a day.

It may sound harsh, but as somebody who does not particularly like reading posts on the WordPress Reader, I’ve always preferred getting emails when new blog posts are published. However, this can often have the result of making me feel overwhelmed by all the new emails coming into my email box.

I decided to unsubscribe from receiving emails from bloggers who regularly publish more than one blog post a day. This has drastically cut down the number of emails I now have in my email box.

#email #blogging

Image by kropekk_pl from Pixabay

Now, I catch up with those bloggers via the WordPress Reader. I do have to be on WordPress and scrolling through the WordPress Reader at the time of their publication to catch most of them, but it’s working for me, and that’s what’s important.

Why has this helped? It’s taken away that feeling of being overwhelmed by emails from WordPress.

I admire those bloggers who can churn out post after post, day after day, as I know it’s something I couldn’t do.

How do you deal with reading and commenting on the blog posts of bloggers who regularly publish more than one blog post in a day?

3 – I only read and comment on blog posts that interest me.

‘By far, the most crucial part of a blog post is its title.’

Well, that’s according to me. But, why?

If it doesn’t make me want to click on the link to read more, then I’m unlikely to read it. It’s a little like choosing which cake to eat with my afternoon cup of tea. If it looks good, I’ll try it. If it doesn’t, I’ll move on and have my tea with a cake that looks good.

What do you consider to be the most important part of a blog post to get people to read it?

I was spending far too much time reading blog posts that either did not interest me or that had titles that were not appealing enough.

I put down much of this in believing that I had to read and leave a comment. I realised what I was doing was something just for the sake of doing it. Where’s the fun in doing that?

Blogging should always be about fun and enjoyment, shouldn’t it? It should never become a burden or make us feel stressed.

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Not only did I find myself not enjoying reading some blog posts, but I realised it was also wasting a lot of my time – time I could have spent doing stuff I enjoy doing.

It was only when somebody said to me ‘would you read or continue to read a book or magazine that didn’t interest you?’ that something clicked with me. Shouldn’t I be treating blog posts the same way?

One of the results is that I now have much more time to read and comment on the posts that do interest me.

Just like a book that I can’t get into, I’ll stop reading a blog post if it does not interest me. Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? But why would anybody read something that they were not enjoying?

For the first time since I can remember, I’ve actually started searching for blog posts about subjects that I know will interest me by searching for them on WordPress.

The result – I’m discovering more blogs and blogging communities, some of which are publishing content that I enjoy reading a lot.

Do you continue to read blog posts that don’t interest you regardless of who has published them? If so, why?

4 – I’ve stopped commenting for the sake of leaving a comment.

Connected with the previous point, I’ve taken the pressure off myself by thinking that if I don’t leave a comment, then I will be upsetting somebody who may think I haven’t read their latest post.

I saw too much of that on Facebook. It was one of the reasons why I left. WordPress isn’t supposed to be like Facebook, where everybody likes and comments on each others posts, is it?

Take the following comment from Chris at Twenty-First Summer, left on my post Is Now The Time For WordPress To Remove The Number of ‘Likes’ From View On All Blog Posts?

#WordPress #Facebook #blogging #socialmedia

Chris wasn’t the only one to mention in the comments on that post that WordPress is becoming too much like Facebook.

Do you think WordPress is becoming too much like Facebook?

But what was it that possessed me in thinking that I had to leave a comment on every blog post I read? Nobody expects that, do they?

While I have always recommended that one of the best ways to get noticed in the world of blogging is to leave good, meaningful comments on the posts of other bloggers, nobody should ever feel the need to have to leave a comment of any kind on any blog post they read.

For me, one meaningful comment every now and again is worth a hundred comments that add no value to the posts they’ve been left on. I certainly never get upset with anyone who doesn’t leave a comment on my blog posts.

And, if somebody gets upset because you didn’t leave a comment on their new post, are they somebody whose blog you should be following?

There will always be readers and bloggers who don’t mind getting or leaving comments that add no value to a post, but I’ve decided that by stopping commenting for the sake of commenting, I’ve become a better blogger.

I feel much better for it.

Do you feel obliged to leave a comment on every blog post you read or of those of certain bloggers regardless of what they’ve published? If so, why?

5 – I’ve cutback the number of blogs I follow.

It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve cut back on the number of blogs I follow; that list always seems to increase again quickly. Now, however, I’ve introduced three further guidelines when choosing which blogs to follow.

Image by ijmaki from Pixabay

  • They must have an ‘about me’ page that tells me what I can expect if I read their blog posts. Otherwise, other than reading lots of their blog posts, how will I know what to expect?
  • They must respond to all comments. After all, there’s no point leaving comments if they’re not returned or acknowledged, is there? And, as somebody who enjoys interacting with people, I don’t particularly enjoy being ignored.
  • I must be interested in at least some of their content. Probably, more importantly, I don’t want to follow blogs that I never return to and which clutter up my email inbox or WordPress Reader. If I don’t go back, I will unfollow.

What guidelines do you use when deciding whether to follow a blog?


What could you do to become a better blogger? Let me know by leaving a comment.

#blogging #bloggingtips #bloggers #blogginghelp

Copyright © 2019 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Five Minutes

#flashfiction #shortstory #bloggersbash #competition

If I’d not taken five minutes, Billy, my eleven-year-old son, would now be dead.

It could have been so different if I hadn’t decided to do what I’d been promising myself to do for the last five years. Just five minutes, that’s all it took.

The world of technology had taken over my life. Like most of the rest of humanity, my head was forever buried in a screen. Morning, noon and night, I couldn’t resist it. If I wasn’t checking my social media accounts or email every five-minutes, I felt like I was missing out. Missing out on a new world! A new world that just five minutes could change.

It was the distant sound of crying coming from Billy’s bedroom that forced me to bring my head up from the screen of my iPad. Why was he awake and sobbing at this ungodly hour?

When the familiar sound of a ‘ping’ came from my iPad, I could feel myself being pulled into the online world again. I’d made the mistake of looking down and seeing the fixed notification on the screen telling me that Rachel, my online mistress, was available.

Aroused by the thought of Rachel, my finger hovered over the Skype button, where I could instantly connect with her, while my ears picked up the sobbing coming from Billy’s room. What should I do? Check-in on Billy, or find out if Rachel’s was wearing that sexy nurses’ uniform and fishnet stockings?

Thank goodness I chose to take those five minutes wisely. You see, if I hadn’t used them to check in on Billy, I’d never have found out that he’d been contemplating suicide. Not only had the death of his mother, five-years earlier, taken him to the edge of a cliff, but my new online world and the neglect it had forced upon him had also taken him there. 

The self-harm images he’d been looking at on his Instagram account were worlds apart from the images I’d been watching when Rachel was online. Ready to blackmail me, she’d had the camera ready to record me that night.

Not only had those five minutes saved the life of my Son, but they’d saved mine, too.

***

#bloggersbash #bloggers #blogging

Unfortunately, as a member of the Bloggers Bash committee, I can’t enter the competition.

I hope my entry has inspired you to have a go. Three winners will each receive Amazon gift cards.

You gotta be in it to win it.

Copyright © 2019 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

13 Free Blogging Tips For Every New Blogger

If you are new to blogging or are even thinking about starting a blog, here are my thirteen quick blogging tips to get you on your way.

It’s all about me

Ensure you have an ‘about me’ page. Tell visitors a little about yourself and at least give them a name by which they can call you. Make sure you do not have an ‘about me’ page that starts off by saying ‘This Is An Example Of An About Me Page’ and contains no information.

Click here to read about setting up an ‘about me’ page and what it should include.

Make some journeys outside of your blog

I’m always amazed by what information is out there in the blogging world. I’ve learned how to self-publishing a book, how to use social media and make it work for me, how to bake gin & tonic cupcakes, take great photos and, of course, picked up lots of blogging tips.

Reading other blog posts can also give you ideas for writing your own posts. Even if you can only spare a few minutes a day, make sure you visit, read, and comment on other blogs.

Get talking to other bloggers

When you leave a comment on another blog, other readers will read and see your comment and may then come and visit your blog. However, ensure that the comment you leave is relevant to the post and at least proves that you have read it.

Try and avoid leaving worthless comments such as ‘Great Post.’ Instead, tell the author what it was that made you think it was a great post or why you enjoyed reading it. They will appreciate your thoughtful comments and may then visit your blog and become your next follower.

#BloggersBash #Bloggers
Some of the Bloggers from The First Annual Bloggers Bash – London, August 1st, 2015

Treat others how you’d want them to treat you

Don’t ignore anyone who has taken the time to read and comment on one of your posts. However, most importantly, never ignore anyone who has taken the time to leave a comment on the ‘about me’ page of your blog. Think about it like this. You’ve invited a guest around for coffee and completely ignore them when they arrive. That’s almost like ignoring comments left on your blog.

Treat everyone who visits your blog as a guest and ensure they are made to feel welcomed. After all, with millions of other blogs out there, they can always go elsewhere…can’t they?

Speaking of comments, never leave a link to your blog in a comment unless it is either relevant to the post you have just read, or you have been invited to leave a link.

When I first started to blog, I learned very quickly from other bloggers that leaving uninvited links was frowned upon and seen as spammy. What would you think if you owned a coffee shop and, without your permission, somebody from a rival coffee shop came in and left a load of leaflets about their coffee shop? It’s not your blog to leave details of your blog on unless it’s relevant to the post or you have been asked to leave a link.

Take a challenge

There are lots of writing and photography challenges in the world of blogging. Don’t be shy, have a try. Not only will it help you with your writing and/or photography, but other participants will come over and read or look at your take on the challenge. It’s a great way to make new friends, have fun, and gain more followers.

Join a party

Blog parties are a great way to introduce your blog to many other readers and for you to discover new blogs to follow.

This is where the host will either invite you to leave a link to your blog, one of your own blog posts or to introduce a blog that you follow. I’ve hosted and joined blog parties and have always found them a great success.

However, the rule of most blog parties is that if you leave a link to your blog, then you must at least visited some of the blogs of the other people at the party. It’s a great way of showing how friendly both you and your blog are.

#blogging #blogingtips #party
I met hundreds of new bloggers and gained lots of new followers at my first ever blog party.

Make sure you’re contactable

Can you imagine a TV or movie producer, an editor of a magazine, or another blogger wanting to contact you to invite you to write an article, and they can’t find a way of reaching you?

A lot of bloggers dream of making some extra cash with their blog, so if you don’t have a ‘contact me’ page, and they can’t find a way of contacting you, then they’ll probably move on and give that opportunity to somebody else. Click here to learn how to set up a ‘contact me’ page.

Invite a guest blogger

I’ve contacted and asked other bloggers to write a guest post that can be published on my blog. Many are happy to do so. Once published, the guest blogger may reblog the post on their own blog. They may even ask you to write a guest post on their blog, putting you right in front of a brand-new audience.

Don’t be shy. Ask other bloggers if they’d like to write a guest post.

Take up an invite

On the other side of the coin, take every opportunity of writing your own guest posts for other bloggers. Remember what I said previously about being put in front of a brand new audience? Time for the spotlight to shine on you.

Reblog and share

I no longer use the ‘reblog’ button but, instead, use ‘Press This’ to share posts. I also share posts on my social media platforms, especially if I have enjoyed reading them.

In return, many bloggers will share my posts which mean they are putting me and my blog in front of thousands of other readers. By sharing the blog posts of other readers, you are putting yourself in the position of the possibility of having your blog pushed to the front where you may be discovered by new followers.

Social Media: The highway to your blog

Using social media to promote your blog can bring your blog lots of extra traffic. But don’t take my word for it, check the following screenshot to see what additional traffic social media brought to my blog in 2017.

#socialmedia #bloggingtips #blogging
6 of my top 10 referrers for 2017 were social media platforms

Get ready to land

What’s the first thing you’d like a new visitor to your blog to see when they visit you?

Click on the home button in the menu at the top of my blog to see what new visitors to my blog will see when they arrive here out of the blue. Make sure your landing page is something that will persuade every new visitor to stay, rather than leave and never come back.

Do you have any other tips for new bloggers you’d like to add to my list? Please leave them in the comments section.

© 2018 Copyright-All rights reserved-hughsviewsandnews.com.

Click here to follow my ‘Blogging Tips’ magazine on Flipboard.

How to Hashtag Blog Tweets

Howdy folks, it’s me, it’s me, Ronovanee. Okay, so it’s Ronovan, but Ronovan didn’t rhyme. Hugh is letting me hijack his blog for a moment. Just don’t tell him I did it, cause he doesn’t know I snuck in. Remember, everything that follows is my opinions and not Hugh’s, so if you disagree, it’s all on me. OOOooooOOo I rhymed that one for real, oh what a thrill. o, O (All images created by me. My apologies in advance.)

I want to start off by saying blogging isn’t a game of numbers for me. I know for some it is and you can tell who those people are. They are the sad people that belittle others who do things because they believe in them instead of doing them for gaining followers and views. In the words of the masochistic dog to the flea, “Bite me”.

What is Hashtagging?

Many people like to look at using hashtags as part of the marketing game of blogging when using Twitter. It can be, depending on your purpose. For me, I do it because I want people to read what I write. I don’t go crazy with the Tweeting like I once did in the beginning, but I still Tweet my posts and those of others at times when I think about it. And for those who are new, hashtagging is using the # before a word on Twitter to get noticed.

hashtag twitter image custom

Take it or Leave it but you Better Believe It.

Hashtags—love ‘em or lump ‘em, but either way, if you are going to Tweet then learn to live with ‘em and how to use ‘em. And that’s not just for your own posts you share but for those of other peoples posts as well. And Tweeting does bring in extra views, and certain hashtags will bring in a lot more views.

For many people, the only reason they don’t use hashtags is that they just don’t know what to use. Honestly, there is no real wrong way to do it as long as you do it. Oh sure, there are some hashtags better than others but really just doing them does the trick in some way, as long as you do it with style. But we’ll get to style later.

It’s up to you and you alone.

Let’s get something straight from the beginning, don’t feel pressured to use hashtags on Twitter. Did you know I can search for the word poem without using the # and find tweets that include that word, with our without the #?

Yes, a hashtag does give a Tweet or movement a more singular thread but don’t feel tied to it. That poetry search will also give you #poetry.

Using #poetry only narrows a person’s search on Twitter and excludes the word without the # included in the Tweet.

But let’s get onto using hashtags.

book-hashtagging

The hashtags you use will be specific to the post or Tweet you wish to share. It all depends on the topic. You would not use #CDs if you are Tweeting about Books. You might use #books instead.
What else might you use?
#Reading
#Amazon
#Kindle
#Book
#Deal
#AmReading
#BYNR
#MustRead

You can also specify genres of the book. Now genres get a bit tricky. Why, because some genres are not as popular as others on Twitter.

A Hashtag Tool

There is a site I use to see what tends to be the most used hashtags. http://hashtagify.me/.

You will want to keep in mind every type of genre your book might incorporate, whether you have reviewed it or written it.

Hashtagify has several features to use, and you can play around to see what I mean. They have the free version and a paid version. Of course, I do the free one. Why? I pay attention enough, and I am not a blogging Nazi wanting to take over the world. Just look at my content. If I wanted to take over the world, I would be putting out different things. I am what I am, and that’s all that I am.

Keep it Fun with Style

hashtag-fun3(I don’t know how she ended up in Rio. But at least she’s clothed.)

 

I try to keep blogging fun for myself and no one else. If it’s not fun for me, then it won’t be fun for anyone. That’s one reason I stepped back from the addictive nature of the marketing aspect of blogging. Trust me, I was in marketing for 11 years, I know what it can be like. It’s a game. Remember—blogging isn’t a game for me.

One way to keep it fun and hashtag at the same time is to Hashtag with Style.

Using hashtags can be overdone. The style is using the hashtags within your Tweet message.

Check out #Poetry from #Blogs to #Follow on #WordPress.

That’s one possible way. Yes, not the greatest example, but an example.

Next, you can do something like #MondayBlogs as your real hashtag then followed by a throwaway hashtag like #MondayMorningBluesBoy or #WhyDoMondaysComeEveryWeek or really whatever you like, and it doesn’t have to include the word Monday. #IHateMyAlarmClock

That throwaway hashtag is more important than a lot of people realize, it’s personality and shows you are having fun with it all. And that Tweeting is not just your way of getting blog traffic but almost an afterthought.

The three Best Hashtags out there for bloggers right now, in my opinion, are:

#MondayBlogs

#MondayMotivation

#SundayBlogShare

But the main thing to remember is, don’t feel pressure, just Tweet and hashtag it with whatever you feel like for now. Even if you just use the simple words like #Poem and #Monday, you are doing better than you were.

Much Love, Success, and Respect

Ronovan

@RonovanWrites

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