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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tour through Blogland: My Creative Process and Purpose

Today you're getting a peek into my blogging/writing life! Big thanks to Kenji for nominating me for the Tour through Blogland. (If you're wondering why I didn't capitalize through, check out my capitalization rules!)

Tour through Blogland - Kate the (Almost) Great

1. What am I working on?

I have a whole bunch of stuff in the works! Starting tomorrow, I'm posting my gift guides. I'm trying to focus on specific types of people to make them more helpful and to keep them from being just another gift guide. Like I said, first one starts tomorrow!

I'm also working on some holiday guides for people with chronic illness. These will focus on traveling, food, setting limits, etc. I'm hoping that my past experience will help you have a better holiday season!

I've also been in the very slow process of redoing and relaunching my writing website. I first made it back in 2012 when I published Aureole, but I have a whole bunch of new writing projects in the works, so I want to give the site a facelift. Speaking of which, I have at least 2 books that I'm working on right now, so be on the lookout for information about those! Writing-wise, I'm also doing some freelance writing and editing. Shameless plug: if you want to use either of those services, email me! As we approach the end of the semester, I know that there are a lot of people finishing big important papers for school. I'll help you with them for the price of coffee.

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Essentially, I have a unique perspective. Obviously all lifestyle bloggers (and people) do, but mine is especially different from being "just another 20-something lifestyle blogger." There are 2 reasons for this: my health and my writing background.

If you've been around here for even just a few posts, you probably know that I have rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, and I also have knee issues - oh, you know, just my cartilage tearing apart from my kneecap - from the arthritis. But since I've been in pain since the fall of 2001, I have the experience of someone who has been to hell and back and who conquered through it all. I don't just know the best and worst ways to get through the holidays with chronic illness; I also know the power that words have to help people and how to best use them to make a difference. I use this to write posts about what to say and not say to someone who was diagnosed with arthritis, as well as to advocate for arthritis patients and their rights.

Speaking of words, they have been my friend for my entire life. Like I said, I have an extensive writing background, especially in that I write novels. But more than that, I studied it at college, but not just as one of my majors. See, I also majored in secondary education and taught high school English last year. As a part of my training to be an English teacher, I took a class on all the grammar rules. This is why I'm able to write grammar tutorials and why I do freelance editing.

This background in writing and grammar as well as my health history combine to make my blog and my writing different from all others.

Tour through Blogland - Kate the (Almost) Great

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

Like I said, I have always been a writer. It is a part of me and has been for as long as I can remember. Blogging gets me writing pretty much every day - also, writing regularly makes your writing better overall - and serves as a great creative outlet.

I also try and use what makes me special and unique to help others with my writing. That's why I write posts about the realities of arthritis and how you can help people with arthritis and what it means to be an advocate.

4. How does my writing/creating process work?

For each month, I plan the topic for each day I'm going to post (4 times a week generally). Then, the week of or the week or two before, I start a draft with the actual topic that I'm going to write about. I'll put some notes in the draft about what I want to write about or things I need to remember to include. If it's a post about something that would be good to use SEO, I make some notes on words or phrases to include.

The day or two before it goes live, I'll sit down and type it all out. I usually rewrite certain elements or the entire post at least once, and 99% of the time I preview the post to check for types or notes to myself that I forgot about. I also put [IMAGE] where I want to include, well, images. Sometimes I forget to make them or to just upload them - which is one of the last steps of making a post - which is why I always proofread it to make sure I didn't forget. 99.9% of the time, I write and schedule these posts ahead of time. So at the very end, I go ahead and use Hootsuite to schedule promotions.

In general, I make a to-do list for every day. I either make it the night before or the morning of, and I use Evernote. I used to make to-do lists on paper, but I was going through so much paper, so I switched to Evernote. I also make notes of SEO for the coming week on there.

Well there you have it! I'm very particular and like things to go a certain way, as you can probably tell, and of course that means I need to basically write an essay to answer these questions. Whatever! (insert sassy hair flip emoji here)

I nominate:

Rebecca from Life with rME

Cassie from Sage the Blog

Becca from Becoming Addorable

I also want to introduce you to my awesome sponsor, Rebekah!

I’m an attorney living in Atlanta that loves traveling, reading, writing, crafting, and FSU football! This blog is my place to share my adventures, projects, struggles, joys, and pretty much anything else that pops into my head. You may be wondering how I chose the name for this blog. It has nothing to do with my being an uber conservative rule follower (I actually tend to look for the loophole in most rules), and everything to do with that fact that I shoot  straight like an arrow, and rarely hold back my thoughts. If nothing else, I want this blog to be honest.​ ​I have an amazing family, boyfriend, and three fur babies that are the center of my life

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

9 Blogging Problems And How To Fix Them

When I started blogging, I had no idea how many little bits and pieces came with it. There was so much information to learn, and I'm honestly still learning. I thought today that I would compile a list of problems bloggers face and posts they can read to fix them. These may be great blogging tips for beginners or just good blogging tips all around. Wherever you are in your blogging journey, hopefully these can help!

Successful Blogging Tips - Kate the (Almost) Great

1. No-reply bloggers

If you use Blogger and your account is connected to Google +, you may be a no-reply blogger. This means that when you comment, an email with your comment is sent to the blogger, but the blogger can't respond directly to it. Other comments are sent to the blogger's inbox, and that blogger can respond directly via email. For example, if you comment on my posts but never receive a reply back, it's because you're a no-reply blogger.

How to fix it - Venus Trapped In Mars

2. Media kits

Media kits are a great way to have your statistics and information at easy access. Plus, it's so much more professional than just listing the details. I have both on my advertising page and update the written materials more frequently than the media kit because it's easier to do that. But having the media kit available is easy and rewarding (hey - look how awesome I am! Appreciate my awesomeness! Woohoo!)

How to make a media kit - Lix Hewitt 

3. Use images in your blog posts

It's something talked about all over the blogosphere: break up your posts with images so that you don't have large chunks of text in a row, or else your reader will get bored. But you also want to have good quality images, and preferably wide ones. It's not always possible to take these pictures yourself, so use free stock images. If you don't have image-editing software, use PicMonkey!

Free stock photos - Life Blooming

Free high-resolution photos - Unsplash

4. Comment on other blogs

Comment on other blogs to connect with the bloggers and to get your name out there. But comments like, "Great post! - Kate" aren't good. They can honestly be annoying. Definitely include your URL if you want to, but leave a thoughtful comment. Commenting is also a great way to build friendships and connect with others.

How to comment on blogs - The Wetherills Say I Do 

Blogging for beginners Kate the (Almost) Great

5. Pay attention to blog statistics, but don't obsess

It is so easy to get obsessed with the numbers in blogging, and that's probably because for most bloggers the numbers are important to a certain extent. For me, I want to know what kind of my posts are popular so that I know what my readers like. I want to know where my readers are coming from and where (generally) they are in the world. For example, the majority of my readers are Americans, which is why I do sometimes speak generally about us Americans. But if it was split pretty evenly, I would probably speak more generally and about more world issues.

A good way to read the statistics without your head exploding is to simplify Google analytics and/or pick a purpose for looking at the numbers. Trying to figure out what your readers like? Wanting to know where they're from? This is a good way to do it without doing a survey.

Google analytics tutorial - Helene in Between

How to simplify Google analytics reporting - Razor Social

6. Search engine optimization is actually worth it

After a certain point, in order to reach the audience you're looking for, you should probably start using search engine optimization. This basically makes it easier for new audience members to find your blog posts. You don't have to be really intense about it. Just the basics will take you a long way, and so check out these SEO blog tips.

SEO for bloggers - Helene in Between

SEO tips for lifestyle bloggers - All Things E

7. Pages are your friend

I'm talking about pages on your blog like About Me, Advertising, etc. This makes it easier for readers to quickly find information they're looking for and/or information you want them to find. For example, my writing is a big part of my life and who I am, so I have a writing page. If you want to start advertising in some way, you should definitely have a page for that.

7 essential pages every blog should have - Pink Studios

8. Social media is necessary

In this day and age, if you don't have and use social media, your blog isn't going to grow. It's as simple as that. Having and regularly updating your social media pages will grow your audience and your network. In order to avoid going crazy, you should develop a system for efficiently using it. Otherwise it can be really overwhelming!

20+ social media tips for bloggers - A Dose of Page

And finally -

9. Dealing with writer's block

As a writer of blog posts, articles, novels, short stories, and more, I have dealt with my fair share of writer's block. At some point in blogging, you will experience it. That's why it's important to have on hand a list of potential blog post ideas.

40 blog post ideas - Kate the (Almost) Great

60 blog post ideas - Kate the (Almost) Great (hey, what's wrong with promoting my posts here if they are applicable?)

50 ideas for blog posts - The College Prepster

51 types of blog posts to help grow your audience - By Regina

30 post ideas - Tumblr

What did you need the most help with when you became a blogger? If you're not a blogger, what surprises you most about what I talk about today?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Maine Recap + PayPal Giveaway

I'm doing a good old-fashioned weekend update today! I spent the weekend up in Maine (for the first time in months), and it was so good to be up there, even if it was way colder than normal.

Snuggling with Piper in the car on the way up (Friday) // Sunset from the car (Friday) // The view on a chilly 23 degree morning (Saturday)

Of course, 23 degrees didn't stop me from getting my walk in Saturday morning. And I had to wear bright orange, because the house is in the middle of the woods and it's hunting season. I call this outfit, "Please don't shoot me! I'm a Mainer, not a deer!"

Gus and Piper on our walk // I spent the rest of the day doing work inside in front of a roaring fire with a little help from coffee and Abby 

Reading and watching National Treasure (Saturday night) // Dug up some of my winter necessities! (Sunday) // Some view of my walk on Sunday // Family latte run on the way home (Sunday)

And now a giveaway!

Give your holiday shopping a push (or just use it to pamper yourself). This giveaway goes from 11/17/14 12:01 AM to 11/23/14 11:59 PM. After I email you, you must claim your prize within 48 hours.

Kate - Kate the (Almost) Great -
Rebekah - The Straight Arrow -
Merrie - Petite Career Girl -
Chelsea - The Girl Who Loved To Write -
Tabitha - a hundred tiny wishes -

(Want to join next month's giveaway? Become a Kate the (Almost) Great sponsor!)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Current Events In One Sentence: Kim K and the Secret Service

Last week, I did a post where I took current events and could only respond to them in one sentence. I had a lot of positive responses, so I'm doing it again today!

Current Events in One Sentence Challenge - Kate the (Almost) Great

Kim Kardashian in Paper Magazine: While I personally would never do that, and I don't necessarily agree with her doing that, it's entirely up to her, and if she genuinely is as thrilled and excited about it as her face appears, then leave her alone.

Probe lands on a comet: How effing cool is this?!

New Orleans police routinely ignored sex crimes: This is completely horrendous, especially since I would imagine that in many cases it takes a tremendous amount of bravery to just report some of these crimes at all, so to have hundreds of crimes classified as miscellaneous and/or not be pursued is even more awful.

Secret service failings: When I read the details of how the security breaches occurred, I was embarrassed, but if they truly are due to an overall lack of resources (including being undermanned), then I hope this helps that.

Walmart workers stage sit-in: A really interesting quote I saw about this referenced how Walmart leads the industry which means they also set the stage for how workers are treated, so power to you if it means how workers are treated get scrutinized, regardless of how they currently are (since I have no idea).

Current Events in One Sentence Challenge - Kate the (Almost) Great

What do you think about these? Comment below or comment with the link to your post! 
(PS - Would you be interested in this being a linkup maybe once a month?)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fall Shoes and Accessories

Last week, I talked about my fall clothes essentials. Today I'm sharing my essential shoes and accessories. Let me know what yours are!


And, of course, there are other shoes to wear this fall. 


Fall Accessories Kate the (Almost) Great

What are your late fall shoe and accessory essentials?

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