blogging with a purpose, Self-help posts, Social Media Posts, Writing skills

Winging It Vs Knowing What To Write About

a blank sheet with the words nothing written typed on it.
Why should you write well
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The Blogchatter Half-Marathon has ten commandments, of which the fifth is:

Thou Shalt Know What Thou Write About

Does this line mean: That I should only write what I know? Pretty limited – it’ll probably fill less than 300 words…

It’s up for interpretation. Need to ask the A-Team exactly what they mean by this line. But meanwhile let me think…

Maybe they mean you should know what you are talking/writing about?

As I write this, it’s making more sense. Be an authority in your niche. Do your research, write it accurately and present it so the reader can understand it. I’ve come across many websites with inaccurate subject matter. Things that pop into the writer’s mind are in the webpage.

If you write accurately, readers will keep coming back for more. Imagine you’re writing an article about gardening and recommend your reader to dig up their prized rose bush and sub-plant it someplace else. It dies. So does your readership…duh…

So, what I’m getting at is, know what you are writing about.

  • Do your research
  • Understand what you have read
  • Make points or headings based on the learning
  • Do your keyword research – if you want to be found by search engines.
  • Think up a good title which should in itself create curiosity.
  • Have a great hook that’ll keep your reader there.
  • Become an authority in your niche and Google will find you (not as simple as that, but you get the picture!)
  • Make it interesting and easy to read so readers/followers come back for more.
  • Find a suitable image or images – they can also be used for your social media posts later when you market your blog post.

Plagiarism/Copywrite

Do remember that ‘research’ does not mean copying from another website. That’s Plagiarism! Do not copy word for word. Instead read up from books and authoritative websites, research articles and journals. Connect all the major points, note down points and then create your own unique post. If you have some experience in the topic then by all means, incorporate that into the post.

Check Your Facts:

Remember all those journalists who got fired for reporting the wrong information? Well no one is going to fire you BUT you will lose follwers/readers if you post wrong information. Just one error will cast doubt on all your other posts. Do take your time to fact-check, before you write or create graphs and diagrams. Of course, if you are writing fiction, well, you can make up any fable.

Let me qualify that.

Even in writing fiction, if you place a scene in a period of time in history or about a place; then you will need to be accurate. After all, Paris is in France and not in Slovenia. World War II happened in the 20th Century not in the 1800s… get my drift?

Now that everything is down on paper, what next? Editing.

Cut out repetitive words, misspellings, grammar mistakes, edit boring paragraphs. Use tools like Grammarly to correct mistakes you may not have noticed. Get fresh eyes to look for mistakes. Get it as close to perfect as possible – it will never be that of course, but we can get it close.

Conclusion

These are just a few major points in writing properly. Just a small taste of where you should be heading. There is still flow and SEO to look into. These points are for another blog post on another day. The important thing is that you need to be thorough in your research and write intelligently. Write what you know – which should be a lot – before you start to write!

This blog post is part of the Blogchatter Half Marathon

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blogging with a purpose, Social Media Posts

The Clubhouse Community – Find Your People

a road sign in white and green letters saying clubhouse with a green row under the words.
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The Blogchatter Half-Marathon has ten commandments, of which the fourth is:

Thou Shalt Build Thy Community

Clubhouse is a relatively new community-building platform. It was started in 2020 with the idea of speaking and talking live rather than reading or watching passively. Here you listen in to someone who has something to say. Everything is by audio. It’s a podcast, but its LIVE. Not only do you listen in, but you can participate in the ‘club’ It’s a radio program that’s interactive. Come into Clubhouse and find your people.

There has been a lot of hype about this new social network because scoring an invite was so hard initially. It has been a year of Beta testing on iPhone only. When I joined during the iPhone beta-testing period (courtesy my friend Richa), it was pretty sedate. Clubhouse has now opened up to Android owners and its still invitation only. Find someone with an extra invite and get it! With the new expansion, we have exciting, made-for-India clubs and conversations and we have already stirred up controversies with unguarded quotes and speeches inside Clubhouse! Within a year this platform is zooming in popularity. You can easily find your people in Clubhouse community. There are ‘rooms’ in regional languages too.

You can create a room if you have something to say. You can listen in if you want to learn something new. The conversations disappear once done and nothing is saved. Famous names have walked through Clubhouse, Mark Zuckerberg is rumored to have walked its ‘halls.’ Oprah and Ashton Kushner have joined in, though I seem to have missed them all every time!

Niches are anything and everything. If you think you have something to say, well go on then, find your niche and open up a room or better yet book a ‘room’ and invite or wait for people to come in to interact with you.

What’s a Room on Clubhouse?

You enter the Clubhouse app in a “Hallway” Here you will find a list of rooms with details of conversation topics, speakers, and number of attendees.

Don’t worry, there’s no funny business in the ‘rooms’ here. Its just a place for you to hang out and listen or speak. Anyone can speak, ask a question and join in. Sometimes if you are the coordinator you need to keep the conversation going, so have a lot of points to talk about. Invite other hosts to speak too. You can see how many people are in the room and what it is about before you join them in the room. If a connection of yours is there, the room displays that too.

The good thing about of Clubhouse is that you can be doing other things while you listen in. Drive, cook, feed a baby or load your laundry. When you are ready, you can join the conversation. Just raise your virtual hand and talk when you are invited to speak. It’s fun to build your community on Clubhouse.

Build Your Profile

Do remember to polish up and build your profile. This is very important if you plan to be a conversation starter or speaker. It helps you to connect with other people and get them to follow you. A follower is always informed about a room you create through notifications.

As a Listener, you will want to find speakers/rooms of interest to you. The Clubhouse algorithms will show you rooms that match your interests first. You can look through the niches and find clubs that interest you. You will definitely find your people in Clubhouse. Click on follow and you can get notifications for rooms that come under this niche.

How Can Clubhouse Help You?

Most of us have conversations and share knowledge at conferences and events. But here at Clubhouse, you can meet leaders in your niche or business and interact in the rooms. You can connect with other professionals in your field easily. Build your community inside Clubhouse and exchange information, form opinions and become stronger.

As the platform becomes more popular, brands can have their own rooms with conversations that attract your customers or create new customers. Soon we expect that speakers will be able to start paid classes. This is exciting, classes and a chance to question your instructor?!

What Else Can You Do on Clubhouse?

  • Build a community
  • Find news about your chosen topic, field feedback
  • Understand your customer better
  • Introduce New Products and Events
  • Find Someone to Invest in You or Your Business.
  • Find paid customers for your Clubhouse rooms.

As Clubhouse grows and more an more people start to use it, all of the above is possible.

Conclusion

With so many social media platforms, it can get very busy online. The best part of Clubhouse is that you don’t  have to read or watch anything. You plug in your headphones and are good to go. In a podcast you do the same but it isn’t live, which means if you have a question or need clarification, there’s nothing you can do. This is ideal if you are trying to learn something. Come on, join the party, what are you waiting for?

This blog post is part of the Blogchatter Half Marathon

The Clubhouse app page on an iPhone.
blogging with a purpose, Social Media Posts, Writing skills

Why Being Responsive Matters

The Blogchatter Half-Marathon has ten commandments, of which the third is:

Thou Shalt Be Responsive

What is Responsiveness?

Have you wondered why some people stay on your mind and others don’t? I know that one of the reasons I really like someone in a work-situation is because they respond to me. Responsiveness matters.

You may have urgently needed some information and who do you ask this from? Someone who is responsive, who can reply to you. They may not always have the answers, but they make the effort to respond; to ask me what I want and tell me whether they can help me or not.

I appreciate that.

You may be hiring and when you get resumes if you do not respond quickly enough, well, you may not have a candidate anymore.

The reverse can also happen. If you want a job and don’t apply on time, you don’t have the job, now do you? Or if you don’t reply to a job offer, it’s gone! Poof! This is why responsiveness matters.

Who Are the Folks Who Should Be Responsive?

Anyone can gain by being responsive. You could be a CEO, and Engineer, a student, or designer or a freelancer.

As a freelancer its double important to be responsive. One of the skillsets you need to have is to respond quickly to a job offer, accessing your client’s needs, and remapping ideas that don’t suit. You need this in order to get clients, keep them and get them to come back for more. Yes, your expertise is not enough to keep your business growing. You need people skills and communication to make your business a success.

How Can You Be More Responsive?

Always respond to texts at appropriate times.

Answer mail and emails promptly. Do not sit on a mail, respond immediately. Even if you don’t have the information the friend/customer/client is looking for, they appreciate the response.

Answer your phone within reasonable hours. If not, remember to call back when you can. Nothing irritates me more than having to call someone back because they are too busy. My time is my money too.

My Time is My Money Too

If you need to give a report for school, college, work. Be punctual. Make sure it is ready when you have promised it. If it won’t be ready, then tell the persons involved that you can’t meet the deadline. Everyone appreciates honesty.

When a colleague asks me for a favor, I make sure to respond promptly whether I can or not. It helps them to know that they can rely on me, that I can be trusted. Vice versa, I remember the folks who respond to me, and remember them when something good happens – like an opportunity.

When someone is responsive you feel trusted, important, and that they are organized.

Conclusion:

Responsiveness is associated with reliability. This is one of the reasons why responsiveness matters. I respond to calls, texts, emails, and verbal requests in reasonable time and show that I respect the recipient. I respond to texts almost immediately; I answer an email within a few hours and call back anyone who has called me as soon as I can. I show people that they matter and I am never too busy for them. It has helped me get new clients. I remember the freelancers who respond and I pass on opportunities I can’t handle to them!

We live in an inter-connected world, there’s no excuses for not being responsive.

This post is a part of the Blogchatter Half Marathon.

blogging with a purpose, Social Media Posts

Five Reasons Why You Should Be Blogging Consistently Even During a Pandemic

messy items strewn all over a table. plates, cups of different sizes, bottles, toys, puzzle pieces and more.
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The Blogchatter Half-Marathon has ten commandments, of which the second is

Thou Shalt Be Consistent

This past year and a half have been surreal. I remember thinking in 2019: Wow! Look at the world! We jet off wherever and whenever. We’re fly away on vacations to Dubai, Singapore and Bangkok, everyone i know has a car or at least a two-wheeler, kids of eight and nine walk around with smart phones. Even the most ordinary person can dream big and know he/she will make it happen! India has made it I think to myself!

And then 2020 happened…

I cannot lie, the year started off well enough with New Years’ celebrations and visits with friends. I vaguely registered reading in the newspaper at the end of December that there was a new virus discovered in China before i jetted off to bring in the New Year in ishstylu!

March! Ah, March! You brought it with you; lockdowns, flight bans, business shut downs… Cozily you settled in at home – having stocked up for three months with everything you think you may need, including frozen snacks, because, well, you never know right?! You actually estimate a month of this and it’ll all be over!

Blogging takes a back seat as you became MasterChef, creating everything and anything you can in the kitchen. Cakes, chocolate chip cookies, lasagna, tacos and exotic food from  YouTube pals took over. Oh yeah baby! You are consistent in the initial few months!

After many plate-banging’s and light-holdings and singing to an empty street (you live away from civilization) your cooking skills take a painful dive.

Yawn! What’s for breakfast Hun? Err…bread dear.

Dinner? Let me make you a dosai with the sambar left over from…hmm…anyway here’s the sambar, maybe you could make the dosai yourself?

Yup MasterChef takes a toss, along with blogging.

Thou shalt be consistent – yeah sure mate.

Okays, now let’s see, it’s now June…and guess what? You’re gonna take all those hundreds of black & white photos and those boxes of colour photos (Yup, you have those! Film, camera, negatives, prints and nothing on digital yet!). You are going to scan everything and up load them to the cloud and then all of you and your cousins can see every one of them!

Yeshhh! Now this is what you need to do.

Finding free apps to scan photos takes a whole three days. You try each one and then settle on The One. Okay, let’s start with the children’s baby photos… There are five or six different bunches of photos of at least a hundred in each. Hmm… maybe you should put them in chronological order first. Oh wait! Look how cute baby J looks in this photo… aww! Baby P is dressed up as Krishna! And another day goes in sorting, smiling, reminiscing about those days.

Ho hum, time to start scanning… here we go, scanning is happening fast, you’re through with four or five boxes on day 1. And so, it goes on for a week or two. A month. Whew! Now time for mom’s black & whites and dad’s and your own childhood photos…

Oh, Lockdown Lifted, Really?

Okayyy then, let’s get out of the house, it seems like years. Days go by in shopping, walking (fresh air and all that!) Scanning takes a backseat. You’ll do it later. Months go by but of course they’re stilling lying around waiting! Consistency is clearly not your name!

July comes and goes, Diwali, and then Christmas again, New Year’s… Time has been flying away despite work-from-home and some cautious travel. Travel bans, flight bubbles are here and there and your blog sits around waiting.

It’s now 2021

You didn’t touch your blog. After all, you aren’t traveling, so what do you write about? It dawns on you that you could have Improvised! You could have thought up a backup, there are so many topics of interest. You can just keep a record of all the social media posts about the pandemic. There are so many stories in posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Open your eyes and look! You can earn some passive income if you are consistent.

Finally, you realize this pandemic isn’t over yet. A second wave is on the horizon and you have wasted a lot of time. Prodded by your friend Sona, you start to review a book. Months have flown by, nothing has changed, except for a brief period of a few months. Thou shalt be consistent and all that; time to get going again.

You realize your fans are gone; you don’t have an audience anymore. Start all over again.

You decide that the Blogchatter Half Marathon may help you kick start your blog again and you grab the chance. Fingers crossed that you will stick to blogging from now on…

Why is Consistency so Important? Or Five Reasons to Consistently Blog During a Pandemic.

You have a captive audience and when you don’t deliver a blog post, they move on and when you do write, there’s no one to read it.

The more you write, the more long-tail key words you have. This means that there are more chances of Google picking up your key words for a search.

You share your knowledge and prove your authority in a chosen topic.

The more content you generate on a regular basis, the more a search engine will note it, and bring up your blog when a suitable search is available. This means search engines love fresh content.

And don’t even start on the money you can make when you monetize your blog. The more people visit, the more money you can make.

Conclusion

Don’t make the mistake this writer did. Continue to slog on your blog come hell or high water! Keep at it. Find a topic that not only interests your audience but something you like to write about. Keep a backup plan for when your content is no longer relevant or possible to write about. Get the world to see your blog by making use of social media to bring your audience in. You should be blogging consistently even during a pandemic.

So, let’s see now, may be time to organize the book collection at home, you know, catalogue the books, make a system…

Your clothes wardrobe could do with a makeover…

This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon.

Social Media Posts

On Being Authentic in The Time of Covid-19

The Blogchatter Half-Marathon has ten commandments, of which the first is

Thou Shall Be Authentic

Since I’m going to try to keep to the prompts, (I’m not particularly imaginative, so thank you Blogchatter :P) let’s talk about being authentic during Covid 19.

I just returned from an authentic wedding. The word authentic is revered by many but to me it now equals selfishness. Here’s why:

Wedding Plans Made

A close family member’s wedding was fixed for mid-June. This happened in March much before the nightmare of April-May. It was fixed when India was back-slapping itself over the success of our Covid story, how we were in the “end-game,” how we were done and life is back to normal, economy was picking up… We were on our way!

Meanwhile, my family happily shopped, gave orders at tailors and picked up stuff for the wedding. Invitations were being discussed, should we have 1000 people was discussed at one point. Finally, they started to realize that maybe we should restrict it to 500? This was at the end of April when we had already started to see 400,000 cases a day.

Second Wave Starts

May came and the election results announced, lockdowns were slowly announced as the second wave overwhelmed state by state, urban to rural. May 10 was the start of a lockdown where we live. By May 1, in Delhi, Maharashtra and Punjab the graphs were showing an extreme rise in Covid 19 cases. Hospitals could not cope with the influx of patients. We read about a shortage of vital medicines, oxygen and beds. Dread is setting in. What are we doing? Is this right? Should we invite so many people? Can we put the lives of our family, of us at risk?

Small Wedding?

Lockdown left no choice but to have 50 people for the wedding. Sounds do-able! And then something dreadful happened. A very, very dear cousin’s wife dies, she was only 44. You age a little hearing this. For the first time Covid-19 is at our doorstep. Another cousin called to say their whole family got Covid-19. Luckily for the adults, they ended up with moderate cases while their daughter at 32 battled for her life in an ICU. We were even more shaken.

On Being Authentic

And yet, our dear family is gung-ho about the celebrations. They want an authentic wedding. Which means all the traditional ceremonies with umpteen meetings of people from different households. We are still inviting 50 people. We are not ready for a simple one-function wedding. Nope, not all. We are authentic. After all, the children will forget our traditions otherwise.

Why are we so selfish? What about the people with comorbidities? We have diabetes, hypertension, and other diseases. There could be a pregnant woman amongst your guests, a cancer survivor or even someone with an autoimmune disease. Should a young couple get married with so many ceremonies during covid times? Is authenticity to tradition so important that you will put someone’s life at stake for it?

Family from everywhere start to call us to ask,

“In times like this, why have elaborate ceremonies?”

Questions to which you have no answers. You stammer your way through this barrage of questions. Fear for your own life becomes stronger. If you become a break-through case, which is a case where despite being fully vaccinated the person still gets severe Covid 19, what will happen to you?

Someone helpfully tells you that the flowers can carry the virus if it has been handled by a Covid-19 positive person (perhaps asymptomatic) Imagine the number of garlands and flowers you must handle during a wedding.

Covid Protocols

You cannot stay away from the wedding. As elders in the family, you have to go. After all, an authentic wedding needs the elders, especially since the father of the groom is no longer living. He died two years ago, before the pandemic. So, with no other go, cautiously you stick your necks out and tell the wedding party that all the covid protocols must be followed.

Least number of people.

Full mask or double mask for everyone

No air conditioning, plenty of ventilation

Social Distancing

Mask for the make-up artist and other people who go near the bride

Mask for the people who solemnize the wedding

Masks for the musicians – what to do with the clarinet? Keep them far from the stage.

Masks for the waiters and other people going in and out of the wedding venue.

They nodded their heads solemnly. “Yes, good idea.” they say.

To Mask or Not to Mask

The ceremonies include mehndi, a sangeet, a turban ceremony for the groom and haldi for the bride and prayers. There is also the Nalangu or blessings where the guests shower the young ones with rice before the Muhurta the next day. So now we have six occasions for people from different households to gather together. Absolute fun during normal times of course. But being authentic during the time of covid-19 sounds foolhardy and inconsiderate, don’t you think?

Wedding Day: We get there and we realize they have not called ‘a few people.’ You are in the midst of an authentic Indian wedding. The musicians are close to the stage where the mask less bride and groom are seated. The ceremony is being conducted by a person without a mask.

The air conditioning is on. The doors closed. Sixty people occupy the chairs. Half the crowd is mask less. No surprises, it is the family on the other side who don’t wear the masks. They apparently don’t believe. You even had a box of masks for everyone who came without a mask,

But when offered a mask, they said, “No thanks, I don’t want one!”

Why are we so selfish? If you just wear a mask you can cut your chance of infection by 65% With Social Distancing you can cut chances of infection by 90% (UC Davis)  If all of us wear a mask, we can cut the chances of spreading the disease even more..

Can’t you take a bit of discomfort in order to save lives? Are you so sure you will survive if you do get sick? Don’t you care that one selfish act could kill someone else? As a society, you feel as if we fail to protect each other with basic courtesies.

Yes, we Indian pride ourselves on taking care of our family members.

Sorry I can’t have a simple wedding: I dreamt of an elaborate one my whole life.  

Well, if you did then why not wait for a more appropriate time?

Don’t worry its nothing bad, covid goes away, it’s like the flu.

Hello! Its like flu for you but not for me. How would you know how it affects someone else? Why are there so many people in hospitals?

Conclusion

You are not saying don’t get married. By all means do get married. Have a simple wedding with the least exposure for the people you claim as family. Make life easier during these hard times. Being authentic during the time of Covid-19 seems a little foolish don’t you think?

Authentic wedding? Bah! Let’s survive this pandemic so we have a culture to save.

This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon.

four people in masks on being authentic in time of covid 19
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