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When I started out, there was one thing that I desperately wanted. I was dying for it and yet nobody would give it to me.

An honest opinion. On my blog.

What do you think of it? I kept on asking but didn’t get anywhere.

I needed it sooo badly and yet I couldn’t get it from someone who knew what they were talking about. UNLESS I was prepared to pay hundreds of dollars for a critique.

Well, when you start  out, you don’t know what you are doing, you don’t know how long you will be doing it for, and you are NOT prepared to spend any amount upwards of $2.00 on it. YET

So allow me to help you guys out. If you want some feedback on your blog – FREE – and real feedback – practical tips that can improve how your blog looks, feels and behaves (get more comments and traffic), then go to my new blog Writing Happiness and leave a comment under the top post titled Need a mini critique for your blog? Here’s how you can get one – for FREE.

And I will respond – that’s a promise. And I will be friendly, n positive yet give you some advice that will help.

If nothing else, you will get some perspective from a reader – who reads many, many blogs – me! :)

See you there folks!

My apologies to if you have already subscribed to Writing Happiness. This is the first and the last duplicate post from my side guys.

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Somewhere in 2008, I decided to give twitter a try. Like most people I was curious – what is so special about this thing anyway? So I signed up, which wasn’t hard at all. Then I sat there twiddling my thumbs and wondering – hmm. 

And I did nothing further. 

And I logged out. 

Number of tweets – Zero. 140 characters be damned. 

My dilemma, like many people, I do not have any friends on twitter. What can I say, we are weird this way, a bunch of overexcited workaholics who hardly ever get on to facebook. We are not the really out-there social types. 

My a-ha moment came sometime last month. Give twitter another try, only this time, do it for social networking with likeminded souls, not necessarily friends. YAY. I don’t need a life to go on twitter. I can follow random people. 

Twitter is an (amazing) tool for information and marketing. Listen and engage. 

#1 Twitter is not like facebook – you don’t need friends on twitter

If you are hesitant to give twitter a try, then consider this, on facebook you only have people who you know – known as your friends. On twitter, you can follow anyone who catches your interest. You don’t have to know them and vice versa. Say you are interested in collecting old books, you will find people on twitter who do the same. You are big on watercolour painting, well there are tons of artists on twitter you can network with. Bet you wanna try searching for interests now. Search #keyword. ( # helps people categorize messages.)

#2 Twitter is not like instant messenger – you are not bound

If you are like most people, you don’t have time to go on online and have chats with people you hardly know. Well, that’s the beauty of twitter, you don’t have to. 

Twitter is about ‘ambient intimacy’. You maintain a meaningful connection with people without having to respond to anything. It’s still good to, but you don’t have to.

Imagine going outside for a walk. You see people walking past talking to each other. It’s a bit like eavesdropping on them AS YOU PASS THEM. You might say something to people ahead of you (if they are listening to you – as in following you), and you could hear things people are saying if you are following them. 

It can be loads of fun – if these people mean something to you. Say you find out your favourite blogger is getting married and you decide to pop over and say congrats. You hear somebody has launched an ebook you might be tempted to check it out. Oooh, you coud overhear people saying nice things about you. That would probably make your day.

I have started to follow all bloggers I have subscribed to, writers, minimalists, social media people, booklovers etc etc. At one time I might get on and find Darren Rowse of Problogger posting something – which he does a lot by the way – he is a prolific tweeter. I might tweet mentioning somebody’s name (Add @nameofperson ) and they will see it, and so will others. So it’s a very public way of showing affection or ill feelings for that matter. 

Going back to our twitter walk, you go there when it suits you and respond or post if you want to. Tweets are not connected to each other and you are not required to keep track of all the tweets, no one can. People following thousand’s of people will have a continuos flow of tweets appearing in their timeline (the main window, where new tweets appear in real time). 

You can also tell others what you heard – as in retweet the original message (RT message) 

#3 Twitter keeps you in the know

You get to hear all sorts of news that now sometimes break on twitter first. You get to hear news from your favourite bloggers, writers, celebrities and the like. Twitter can be your instant service for the latest news, happening before your eyes.

#4 Twitter is good for your blog

Twitter is good for business, or for broadening your circle of hobby –ers. If you want to bounce off ideas for your new business you want to set up, you will find likeminded people to talk to. It also helps to spread word about your blog – and that’s NEVER a bad thing.

Are you on twitter? Do you like it? Hate it? Want to give it a go? Here is what you can do 

  • Go on to twitter and make yourself a username. Fill your profile as it will help people decide if you want to follow you back.
  • Have you got friends or colleagues on twitter? That’s good, start following them.
  • Do you follow blogs? Start following them. Start following me @WritingH. I usually tweet about all things OTHER than blogging. :)
  • Do you like any particular celebrities, sports people, tv and media personalities, journalists, etc etc. Find them and follow them. 
  • Spend 5 minutes at a time following what people are saying. Soon, you will start to get an idea of what to respond to, what to retweet and so on. You can start tweeting from the beginning. The more you tweet, the more people will follow you. 

So, what is your twitter id? Let me know and I would be happy to follow you!

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Does your blog make you feel good? 

If your answer is yes, chances are it is extending that wonderful feeling to your readers as well. Feeling good is a bit like yawning, you can’t do it without affecting others. Its contagious. So is being miserable in your writing. Writing a constructive rant is one thing but nobody wants to read stuff that brings everyone down, all the time. 

What kind of blogger would you rather be? Positive and inspiring others, or a whiny one. Nobody likes whingers, at least that’s what I notice around me. And that’s what I teach my kids too.

I am a huge fan of those bloggers who can put a positive spin on just about anything.  It is my utmost pleasure to read what they have to say. You read these people and you feel like you can do anything. They give you that extra something you need from your reading – something to tell you it’s all going to work out in the end. 

You can write like that too. 

You don’t have to be the world’s most optimistic person. You just have to be human. 

Be HAPPY

Have a cheerful disposition in real life? When people see you, does it put a smile on their faces or do they think ..uh oh. 

Being a joyful person that you are, let your blog posts reflect that. I am not suggesting that we all need to only write about the good things, after all what’s the purpose of having a blog where you can’t let loose and do an occasional rant. But really, there is a lot of misery in real life, much gloom and doom. Talk about that if you must, but it pays if people leave your blog feeling much better. 

Be HELPFUL

Your blog has to do either one of two things, either it entertains or it helps. 

Make your writing useful. Provide some value to your readers. When you provide genuine help to your readers, they see it’s not all about you. Yes, it’s all about your writing but for what? Feel better about yourself or some other higher purpose. 

I write to help myself and .. others. 

Educate yourself by helping others. In helping others lies your sense of achievement and pride. Do your part. 

Be HUMOROUS

There is nothing sadder than not being able to laugh at oneself or to not see the lighter side of things. It’s truly amazing what laughter can do to brighten up a room, how it lifts everybody’s spirits. 

Laughter is generosity. It means you are interacting in a way that is neither judgemental, nor serious. People love it when there is unexpected humour amongst all the serious stuff. It’s like the icing on the cake for me. 

When you write lightly, it means you encourage others to look at things in a new perspective. All of a sudden, things seem better and it keeps everything in perspective. 

Be HOPEFUL

It keeps everyone going. 

I am sure everyone has those days when everything seems to take a turn for the worst. Nothing goes according to plan and after few such days, it’s quite easy to start questioning the purpose of it all. It’s a state of depression and it strikes us all. I too suffer from it and in those days you don’t even know what hope looks like. On that day I long to find something that offers hope, something that reminds me why I am doing it all. Could your blog do this for your readers?

Share your successes with your readers. People love a happy ending. 

Share your hard lessons you learnt. People love you when you refuse to stay down and show them how to come out smiling. 

Do you have any stories to tell? You will find many listeners. Be positive. Be that blogger. 

Be HUMAN

Show your human side. Make people relate to you. They like hearing a human voice, something that is real, honest and well… just human. 

Be human, be yourself and all will be well. 

   On a day when I am following my H religion, nobody is more successful on the planet than me. There is nothing that I cannot achieve. On a day like this, I want to write a post like this and share it with everybody

  Not everyday is like that, and sometimes I don’t get to meet all things H for many days. One those days it’s impossible to write a cheerful post. On those days, I look forward to reading all other bloggers who are humorous and help out others by reminding us that there is always hope. They remind us that this is all part of being human. And we are happy.

Join my circle of happiness, and become a part of my ‘happy’ blog. Subscribe now. :)

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What makes one subscribe to a blog?

 
Every blogger wants more readers, and so when this question popped into my mind last night, as I was about to go to bed, I took notice.  As this kind of thing usually happens while I am already half asleep, I was grateful, and promptly jotted down some notes, hopefully like a true blogger!

Anyway, here are my top reasons which make me wanna subscribe to your blog, or not!

All bloggers want MORE subscribers!

 

What’s in a Name?

Apparently everything? If yours has caught my eye, then I am definitely going to click on it to see if your blog lives up to it. The hardest part is getting readers through the door, and guess what? by choosing a great name that is informative, and memorable – that’s done.

Would you check out 17000days, Men with Pens, the Happiness project, or be more with less , just to name a few?

Looks Matter!!

Never underestimate the power of the design, layout, style, arrangement of posts etc etc. In easier words, if your blog does not look professional, it’s not likely that anyone would subscribe. By professional I mean, by first glance people should see that you the author actually care about it enough to make it look presentable. Having clearly defined categories help immensely as well. Keep it simple, keep it professional.

I love the simple, uncluttered feel of Reading for Your Success, Write to Done and Copy Blogger.

Are We On the Same Page?

This needn’t be said. If I have spent a few seconds on the blog, it’s because I am deciding whether the subject matter is of any interest to me. So for instance, even if I have clicked on to a blog, if it’s a news or politics or technology or business, I am not interested, sorry guys. Its nothing personal. If it’s about fashion, celebrities, cooking, sport, sadly, I am not your target reader again. 

I also like to go narrow and go deep, like most readers. I will subscribe to blogs on writing, blogging, personal development, blogs that have quirky content. (Have you seen Lego a day?) Have a look at my blogroll, and you will see what I mean. I am actually updating that and will be sharing my newest finds with you. How is that significant for a blogger? Develop a niche and people will find you if they are interested in the topic you cover.

Every bogger’s dream, readers clicking subscribe.

 

Who Are You Again?

Most people, after spending a few seconds looking at your blog, (which covers the points mentioned above), generally go straight to the ‘about me’ section, and that is why it is soooo important. While this is not a deal breaker, it is actually quite significant.

I like to connect with people I like. And sometimes its a tad difficult when you don’t get to see the person who is behind all the fabulous writing.

A picture is often a sign of the blogger being friendly and open and – putting themselves out there – as they do with their writing. It’s not easy but it helps. Even face hidden kinda is better than no picture. Blog is not an online magazine, nor a portal of useful articles. People want to know you – picture helps a lot.

Checkout Tsh of Simple Mom here, Suzannah of Write it sideways here, and Katie of Momentum Gathering here. Gorgeous people, hence gorgeous blogs. 

Your style? I Like!

I love it when the author regularly replies back to reader comments, makes me feel needed.

I love it even more when once in a blue moon, they check out my blog, and I worship them if they actually read and comment – I know this has got nothing to do with subscribing, but I had to say that. Not sure about you-comment-I-go-over-to-yours-&-comment-back rule, but sure is nice to have big bloggers having a look at ours once eh?

Go on, click on it!

Sell Me Something?

Ok, I think it’s alright if you are offering an ebook for sale. But do I have to hire you as well? I might, except I am having difficulty finding anything of interest navigating through those 37 ads that are currently on your page. I understand blogs as businesses as well, but do you only want me as a potential buyer of your products or can I just enjoy your blog in peace?

Also, please don’t get preachy on me, doesn’t really help. Go here .. naah, can’t be this rude now, can I? heheh

Perfection is Overrated

Yes, good writing is extremely important, and so is content, there is absolutely no doubt about it. But think about it, who do we connect most with in our real life, the person who is perfect in every sense or people who are beautiful and imperfect like the rest of us? Same goes for blogs: I like to see personality, I like to see ooomph, I do not like perfection. Makes me feel ..not very good.

I am trying to figure out the direction of my blog, it is something I want to be able to do for a living eventually, something that combines everything I am passionate about – reading, learning, teaching, writing, blogging, connecting with people. So this is a ‘play’ blog for me, and while I am doing this, things evolve in their own imperfect ways.

If you want to join in the journey, please subscribe. Learn alongside me and keep letting me know that I am doing something right.

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It is after 3 months that I am logging in to my blog. 

Yes, I am alive. 

Yes, I went away for an extended holiday to my homeland. Yes, I went with the full intention of logging in as soon as jet lag wore off. Sadly it didn’t happen for me like that, nothing like that all.  

When you click on anything - except your own blog.

I do not know what happened, except that I was literally in a different world. I was in a world where we have maids doing practically everything for us. We have chauffeurs for our cars, we have tons of help in the kitchen – and for everything else imaginable. And no, one doesn’t have to be a millionaire to have all this. In countries like Pakistan, labour is cheap, and is easily available, and rest of the country reaps the benefits. And then I had actually people to talk to – like living things – my gorgeous family members.

So I got lazy.

And this is an understatement! 

To be honest, I did not feel like writing even though this is one of the things I cannot image not doing – ever. I felt out of groove, out of touch with reality. Surely this few weeks at my mum’s house is not real. I did not want to wake up. It was sooo beautiful.

Needless to say, I got back home, to a world of work and chores and responsibilities – and only person to take care of it all. Me. 

My depression wouldn’t go away. I knew there were things to be taken care of. Even the thought of picking up a book – my most favourite activity in the whole world – sent my spiralling in a pool of tears. I was questioning if there was a purpose to it all. I was so sad. You have probably been there, I am sure this happens to all of us once in a while – one doesn’t need a long overdue wonderful visit from family to go through this. For me, this is all too familiar and it’s a cycle. I have to ride it out or it won’t go away. Mercifully, it does, every single time.

My lonely blog screaming for attention!

Are you still with me? Yes this post is all about me, and it’s most probably really boring as well. What the heck, it’s not like I have a professional blog right? I can choose to be a little self –indulgent eh? Plus, I did not know how else to start. After each exhausting day, I was lying down in bed thinking about what to write. After a long leave of absence, I just couldn’t start writing about ‘how to write a killer post’ or ‘six tips to feel good’ or something like that which I am sure are very worthy topics, but don’t seem like ideal ones to a slightly depressed mind. YAY for slightly!

I was scared to look at my blog, fearing all the fellow bloggers to have given up on me. This is a very scary feeling, its not been long since I have become a ‘blogger’ and its no fun without having supportive, kind fellow bloggers who actually take the time out to read but – comment. Hope you are reading this.

Blogging is hard

So… last night I thought, why not write exactly about how I feel. So, that’s precisely what I have done. Didn’t seem too hard. Now if I can only start participating in other blogs, add new bogs that I haven’t gotten to just yet, go back to researching and learning a hundred things to make my blog ‘better’, and pick up a book … I will be alright.

I am sure there are million other things that one does when one is blogging, but they all escape me right now. I am sure they will come to me in time.

Have you ever taken a break from your blog? Did you find it hard to start again? Do share, as I can so relate right now. And I do need the support.

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Imagine going through minds of professional bloggers (and thinkers). What would we find? Let’s have a bit of fun, shall we?

 

What does ‘blogging’ mean to you?

  • I believe the term “blog” means more than an online journal. I believe a blog is a conversation. People go to blogs to read AND write, not just consume. Michael Arrington
  • Blogging is using a new medium for what it is good for – connecting and interacting. George Siemens
  • Yes, blogging is entertainment. It is performance. Each blog post a show, sometimes an opera, sometimes a 30 second commercial. Like a show, it may start with a bang, lead you along from song to song, have a great climatic moment, then leave the audience wanting more. Lorelle Van Fossen
  • A blog is merely a tool that lets you do anything from change the world to share your shopping list.  Unknown
  • Blogs are whatever we make them. Defining “Blog” is a fool’s errand. Michael Conniff 

What’s a single important decision to make when you are thinking of starting a blog?

  • The first thing you need to decide when you build your blog is what you want to accomplish with it, and what it can do if successful. ~  Ron Dawson 

What can you write in your blog?

  • Your blog is what you say when there is nobody standing over your shoulder telling you what to do. Lorelle V Fossen
  • The personal nature of the blog is what they find appealing. Ethan G. Salwen
  • Your blog is your unedited version of yourself. Lorelle V Fossen
  • The casual conversational tone of a blog is what makes it particularly dangerous. Daniel B. Beaulieu 

My blogging club

 Why do readers subscribe to blogs? What makes a blog ‘successful’?

  • Bottom line of a successful blog is what else but solid contents. Partha Bhattacharya
  • Readers subscribe to blogs when they provide an informational or entertainment value so great that it would be a loss to not subscribe to it. Maki
  • Not only are bloggers suckers for the remarkable, so are the people who read blogs. Seth Godin
  • Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers. Brian Clark 

How important is to establish any relationship with your readers?  

  • A blog is in many ways a continuing conversation. Andrew Sullivan
  • As I have repeatedly written in one form or other, blogging is not about writing posts. Heck, that’s the least of your challenges. No, blogging is about cultivating a mutually beneficial relationships with an ever-growing online readership, and that’s hard work. Alister Cameron
  • Blogging is a conversation not a code. Mike Butcher

Is linking to other blogs important?

  • Link to your enemies. Link to your competitors. Link to everyone. Instead of being sticky, be linky. Robert Scoble
  • The heart of blogging is linking…linking and commenting. Connecting and communicating – the purpose of the Internet. George Siemens 
  • Unless you restrict your reading habits to a really small segment of the blogging population, or you are a blogging machine like Robert Scoble, a feed reader is only going to give you a small window of what is happening in the blogosphere. Andy Beard

Happy bloggers. My community. Join?

How can we become better bloggers? Any tips?

  • Blogging is best learned by blogging…and by reading other bloggers. George Siemens 
  • Blogging is an art, same as any other method of self-expression. Some are better at it than others. Hugh Macleod

Why do writers in particular enjoy blogging so much?

  • I think the pleasure of completed work is what makes blogging so popular. You have to believe most bloggers have few if any actual readers. The writers are in it for other reasons. Blogging is like work, but without coworkers thwarting you at every turn. All you get is the pleasure of a completed task. Scott Adams
  • And it occurred to me that there is no such thing as blogging. There is no such thing as a blogger. Blogging is just writing — writing using a particularly efficient type of publishing technology. Simon Dumenco.
  • I realised that blogging is in itself another form of creative writing. Unknown

What can blogging do for you – professionally speaking?

  • Blogging is good for your career. A well-executed blog sets you apart as an expert in your field. Penelope Trunk

Why do some people say blogging is hard work?

  • Blogging is hard because of the grind required to stay interesting and relevant. Sufia Tippu 
  • Blogging is not rocket science, it’s about being yourself, and putting what you have into it. Unknown

What is the most important lesson you have learnt while blogging? I am happy to learn from the best. If you want to join me, subscribe to my blog. All are welcome! :)

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