Reposting Etiquette?

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Credit: Pixabay

One of the things that is always stressed to bloggers is to write ‘evergreen’ content – content that is generally ‘timeless’ and generally useful, in order to keep traffic coming to your blog.

It does work, and I strive to write some of that ‘evergreen’ content on my own blog.  However, I recently came across an issue with this ‘evergreen’ content that I hadn’t encountered before.

I was reading a thoughtfully written post, and I wanted to comment on some of the things that were written because I had some personal experience with the topic.  The post was new, just posted that day, and it already had hundreds of comments and likes.  Great!  The blogger must be doing a good job, and I was excited to post something into what seemed like a busy community on the blog.

So I was confused when I scrolled down to comment and discovered that the comments were over a year old.

What?

Why would I want to comment on a post that was written over a year ago?  I mean, I could just leave a comment, but for me, the point of commenting is to try and build a community and interact with them.  On a post that’s over a year old, who’s still paying attention?  In today’s social media/instant gratification world, I have my doubts that anyone would be.

It got me thinking.  While I want that ‘evergreen’ content to keep people finding and returning to my blog, I don’t want my readers to feel like I did after my experience.

I felt – tricked.  If I had known from the beginning that I was reading an old post, I would likely still have read it and perhaps returned to read other things, knowing that I might find some new gems from this blogger.

But since it appeared the post was freshly published, it seemed a bit shady to republish something a year old and make it look like a new post.  If the blogger wanted to re-post it, why not just add a blurb at the beginning about it being an older post?  Or write a new post that links back to the old content?

I know a lot of bloggers share older content on social media and I think that’s fine, as it generally is apparent once you go to the post that it is older content.  But again, the way this post was handled, I ended up feeling tricked and unfollowed the blog because of it. Maybe it’s just my background in education, but not having a date on content is a pet peeve of mine.  If I’m looking something up, many times the information is time-dependent.  For instance, if I want to look up a comparison between Verizon and Sprint, a post about that from 3 years ago is probably no longer relevant today.

The whole situation just left a bad taste in my mouth and I wondered how other bloggers handled this issue.  How do you feel about this?  Do you re-post old content as if it’s new?  If so, have you ever gotten a bad reaction from a reader?

Planner Overload

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Credit: Pixabay

When I started this blog, it was with the intent to open a planner sticker business on Etsy.  I’m still not there yet, but that’s a post for another day.

I am working on it, creating stickers that I could sell.  I’ve concentrated on things I would use first, because if I never sell anything, at least I’ve created something I will use myself.

I’ve been a planner girl since forever.  When I was in school, it was a way to keep track of my homework.  As I got older, it became a way to keep track of my life.  And I’m still using them.

Them.

As in, plural.  Something I never have done before.  I’ve always just had one planner, and it was one with a monthly spread, because I never use the weekly ones.  I want to be able to glance at my month and see what’s going on that month.  Drilling down into weekdays and hours is just too much for me.  I get information overload.

However, since I dove into the world of planner stickers, I realized I had no idea how many people seem to use planners these days – and multiple ones, at that.

In the planner community, there are two big planner companies.  Each of those companies sells multiple types of planners – different layouts, different themes, different sizes, etc.  But they also sell planners for multiple purposes.  You can buy a fitness/workout planner, a budget planner, a faith planner, a life planner, a household planner, a kids’ planner, and more.

I’ve watched plenty of YouTube videos of planner people who use these multiple planners and thought, sheesh, why would you need that many planners?

I’m now one of them.  :/

I have my original, cheap $5 2 year monthly planner.  I have my bill planner (it’s really just a small spiral notebook where I track my bills).  Now I also have a yearly planner from one of the two big companies – because I needed to know what it was like to use one before I could make/sell stickers for it, right?  And I bought a budget pack from that same company – again, because I need to know how people use it before I can make stuff for it, right?  And I’m currently trying to talk myself out of buying a planner from the other company for the same reasons.

Oh, I forgot, I have a Bullet Journal that I’ve been trying to use again.  The BuJo was appealing because it was functional and not focused on ‘pretty,’ but if you spend any time on YouTube, you’ll find tons of artists who show off their illustrated-to-the-nines BuJos.

So, that’s now 5 (5!) planners I’m using.  Which is ridiculous, I know.  Especially since some of these planners are $40 and up.  But I’m having a hard time paring them down.  I’m actually enjoying using the new yearly planner.  2 issues with it – one, it has lots of pages for weekdays that I will never use, so that’s a waste of trees and money, and 2, the monthly spread, while good, isn’t big enough.  Since I only use the monthly spread, that’s a whole month’s worth of stuff that has to get written down – bills, appointments, schedules, holidays – for 4 people, since I track everyone in my household.  I suppose I could size up to the bigger planner, but then that’s even more money (and pages I won’t use, because it also has pages for weekdays).

And even though I understand the whole ‘sunk cost fallacy,’ I find it hard to get rid of my original cheap $5 planner, because it’s good for another whole year!  And it’s bigger than my new planner, so I have more room to write stuff down.

I am planning to get rid of my little spiral bill planner, because I do like the new budget planner I’ve been using.  Recording things in both places is getting obnoxious, and the new one has much more space to write.  I guess it’s just resistance to change that’s keeping me using both.

I also could incorporate my new budget planner into my new yearly planner – the rings are designed so that you can add/remove/rework pages as necessary.  I just haven’t done it yet.  Doing those two things would at least get me down to 3 planners instead of 5, which is something.

I have also explored the idea of using digital planners for all these things, but honestly, I like using an analog planner.  I like writing with my pens, the feel of the paper, and the stickers.  Digital planning just wouldn’t be the same, plus I’d be worried about it all somehow getting hacked.  So for now, analog planning is the plan.

I’m still trying to figure out if the Bullet Journal is something I want to stick with.  I like that it’s functional, but I’m discovering I would also like it to be pretty.  Something that seems a lot easier with my yearly planner than the BuJo.  We shall see.

How Do You Follow?

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Image: Pixabay

I’m afraid I’m going to become a Luddite in my old age.  I mean, I grew up thinking Super Simon was a technological marvel.  😛

I’m trying to keep up with the times, but it seems like everything moves too fast for me these days.  One of the constants today is that ‘there’s an app for that,’ right?  So I’ve been using the WordPress app on my iPad to keep up with my blog while I’m on the go.

However, I’m not sure if iOS hates WP, or WP hates Apple, but either way, the app just doesn’t work well.  In addition to eating my own posts, it often eats the posts I save so I can come back and read them later.

Which got me thinking – how do other bloggers/readers find and follow blogs?  It used to be that everyone used an RSS reader like Feedly – do those even exist anymore? If they do, does anyone still use them?  Or do you just use the built-in WordPress Reader to find and follow blogs/sites?

I know that I can manually add websites to my reader to follow, but it doesn’t seem to work well.  I did a quick Google search to see if RSS was still a thing.  Google didn’t know, either.  It seems some people still use it, but many have abandoned it due to the rise of social media.  One article said that people use things like Facebook and Twitter in place of RSS readers now.  Is that true?

Does anyone sign up to receive notifications about new posts via email?  I don’t, because I don’t want the email spam.  That’s why I use the WP Reader – then everything is in one place and I can scroll through and read when I have time.  I do miss being able to mark things to come back and read later – there’s an option for that in the Reader, but in my iOS app, it doesn’t work half the time.

So how do you follow all the blogs and websites you like?  Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Other social media?  Or do you use something like Feedly? Or just email?  Sound off in the comments and let me know.

5 Things I Hate About Blogging

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Image Source: Pixabay

I love blogging, I really do.  Sometimes just the process of getting my jumbled thoughts out of my brain onto the screen is all it takes to make my day better.  But there are some things I don’t like about blogging. Some are just annoyances, but some are things that make me want to avoid blogging all together.  I guess my ego is bigger than my dislike, since I’m here.  😀  Right, on with the list!

#5.  Dealing with the technology

I consider myself pretty tech savvy, but I am by no means a tech person.  I liken it to driving a car – I know how to operate it; I can fix simple things – gas, flat tire, blown fuse, etc., but some things are beyond my skills – broken engine mounts (which aren’t apparently as terrible as they sound), broken shifter linkage, suspension issues, and the like.  Same with tech – I can operate my blog and fix simple things, but sometimes things break and I have no idea how to fix them.

One of the reasons I have my blog set up the way I do is that I didn’t want to be responsible for security and other tech issues.  Maybe someday I’ll feel that confident, but not yet.  Technology is great – as long as it works.  😛

#4.  Finding people to follow and interact with

This is a big one for me.  I’m naturally an introvert, and I spend a lot of my time alone – some by necessity, some by need. I like to people watch and observe – interaction is difficult for me and not something I feel adept at.  So just hopping over to someone’s blog and commenting does not come naturally.  I’m constantly afraid I will come off as rude, condescending, or at worst, ignorant.

Has anyone ever made me feel that way?  No, of course not.  Have I ever felt that way about anyone who interacts or comments on my blog?  Nope, never.  Just my own demons following me into the digital realm.

I also apparently suck at searching for other like-minded blogs to follow.  I have a wide range of interests, but it can be difficult to find blogs to follow even then.  Like everyone else, I’m looking for good content, but also consistency.  I’ve found some great blogs, but then discover that the owner hasn’t posted anything in months.

#3.  Blogger’s block

I suffer from this a lot, mostly because I have that little voice in my brain that says that no one will care about what I have to say.  Plus, as mentioned in #2, I think consistency is important, so I try to stick to my posting schedule.  The pressure to post regularly can lead to brain drain, and I have trouble finding a topic I think is relevant that I want to post about.

These days to combat blogger’s block, I either go draw or I go for a walk.  It’s amazing what a little exercise can do to get my neurons firing.  Even if I don’t end up finding a topic, I can at least get myself out of that negative headspace you get into when you are blocked creatively.

#2.  Bragging about yourself

I don’t think most people start a blog thinking, “Hey, I need a forum to brag about myself.”  That said, a lot of the time, that’s what it feels like I’m doing.  Ultimately, I’m trying to get people to listen to me, follow me, and hopefully, spend some money on things I’ve created.

But that darn imposter syndrome is always there, lurking behind me.  There’s always going to be somebody who is better than you at whatever it is you’re doing.  I think we’ve become so conditioned to compare ourselves to others that it can be extremely hard to recognize when you’re doing it.  In the same way, we’ve been conditioned not to brag about ourselves and I find it hard to do.  (Though now that I think about it, social media is mostly that, so maybe it’s just me?)

#1.  Stat tracking

This is my absolute least favorite thing about blogging.  I want to grow my audience and attract followers, but keeping track of all the stats just gives me a headache.  Again, I understand the basics, but drilling down too far makes me want to scream.  Numbers are not my thing – words are.

Plus, I am never sure what stats are more important.  Visits? Views? Comments? Number of followers?  Keywords?  Ugh, I’m making myself tired just writing about all of this.

 

While there are things I don’t like about blogging, what I do get out of it more than makes up for it.  It’s work, for sure, but I enjoy the process, even if I don’t think I’m good at it sometimes.  But that was the point behind this blog – to be public about my successes and my failures.  Now, if I could just figure out how to clone myself so I have time for everything I want to do!

iPad Posting Fail

img_0087-1I’ve had many blogs over the years and one thing I always wanted was to be more mobile with my blogging.  I’m old and have terrible eyesight, so blogging on my phone has never been an option.  My eyes are too bad, my fingernails are too long, and my patience is too short to write posts on a dinky phone screen.

I’ve always been a PC kinda gal, so I am most comfortable writing that way.  A full-size keyboard is my friend, especially one with a great ‘feel.’  I learned to type on a manual typewriter (yep, I’m that old) and keyboards with no feel drive me batty.

However, over the last year or so, I’ve been using my iPad more and more.  Especially now that I am drawing on it, I tend to take it everywhere.  So I thought I would try out blogging on my iPad.  It couldn’t be that hard – even though I loathe the new ‘block’ editor (it’s not that new anymore, I suppose), I’ve been doing okay with it on the PC.

My thoughtful husband bought me a bluetooth keyboard that I could use with the iPad so that I could type with an actual keyboard rather than the on-screen one.  (I am active on some forums and let me tell you, trying to select text with the built-in keyboard is a freaking nightmare!)

I also had intentions of participating in Inktober (notice the past tense there) and had drawn up a mandala for the first prompt.  I drew it up, decided to post about it, and wrote up the post.  Simple, right?

As if.  :/

It took forever for the iOS WordPress app to load up my jpg image of the mandala.  I think it took about 5 tries before it finally loaded.  I finished up my post, proofed it, and published it.

I tried to, anyway.

After hitting publish, the app just sat there with the loading wheel spinning and spinning.  So I closed it and tried saving the post.

Nope.  Wouldn’t save either.

I tried publishing it again.  Again with the loading wheel.  I thought, well, I’ll just give it a few minutes and see if it worked.  I did a few chores around the house and came back.  Nope – still the spinning wheel.

Argh.

After about an hour of trying to post, I finally gave up.  I don’t know if WordPress hates Apple or Apple hates WordPress or they both hate me, but I was so frustrated I was ready to spit nails.  Oh, and during this whole process, I also discovered that posts I had saved to come back and read later in the app have also disappeared.

All of them.

Sigh.

So for now, I’ve resigned myself to drawing on the iPad and posting on the PC.  Not exactly what I wanted, but we can’t have everything, right?

Planning Fail

img_0087-1Several months ago, I bought one of those fancy planners.  You know, the ones you see all over YouTube and Etsy with all the bazillions of cute little stickers you can put in them?

Since I was contemplating starting my own sticker business, I bought one, along with several sticker sets from different Etsy stores to try out.

I lasted two whole weeks, I think.

I mean, it’s not the planner’s fault.  It was cute, it was in some colors I liked, and I truly thought I would use it.  It’s not the stickers’ fault – they were all cute and/or useful.  I bought a set of budgeting stickers for April (so I bought the planner even before that) and some other just cutesy stickers to decorate as I planned.

I even bought a couple of sticker packs made for the planner I bought that were digital downloads so I could try that out.  After the printing fiasco of those, I finally got them ready to use.

Now, I use a planner all the time.  I prefer the month-at-a-glance ones, rather than week by week, so that was probably my first fail.  The planner I bought does have a monthly view, but it’s pretty small and followed by weekly spreads.  So, not really enough space for what I wanted for the monthly view.

Looking back through the planner, I used it for, yep, two whole weeks.  It just felt, forced, I think.  Like I was trying too hard to make it ‘cute,’ when what I need from my planner is functional.

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Weekly Planner Spread 2019_0002

I was a bit frustrated, thinking of the money I wasted on this planner (even on sale, it was around $35) and the stickers.  As you can see above, none of the stuff I put in the planner actually got checked off, so I clearly accomplished a whole lot of nothing that week.

I pulled the planner out while I was writing this post and realized I’ve only got 3 months left to use it.  I can buy other pages and take out the ones that are currently in there, so it’s not a total loss, but I doubt I’ll spend that much to replace something I didn’t use in the first place.

Now I’m thinking maybe I’ll use it as an editorial calendar for the blog.  Then it won’t matter how messy it gets, right?  😛  Since it’s only usable til the end of this year, that seems like a good plan.  I’ll probably keep the little discs and the cover, but I’m not even sure about that.

Ah, well, another lesson learned, right?  At least I’ve narrowed down what I don’t want in a planner.  Now – what to do with all those stickers??!!

Photo Fail

I’ve been working on drawing and coloring mandalas, experimenting with all the different ways to use them so that I can get an idea of what people who purchase them might want to do with them.

I printed out a couple of my Monday Mandalas from this blog and colored them in with my favorite colored pencils.  I wanted to take a photo of them and show you how they turned out.

Unfortunately for me, my photo skills aren’t up to par and apparently neither are my photo editing skills.  I’ve taken a million photos and I can’t seem to get the paper to look white – there’s always a weird yellow cast.  I’ve tried editing the photo, but whatever I do also affects the colors I used on the mandala, which I don’t want.

So, after much frustration and face-palming, I’ve decided that this is a fail that I need to accept and move on from.  The photo itself wasn’t the point, the experience of coloring it in was.

The failed photo:

Colored Mandala MeSee how it’s dark on the right side?  So, clearly, one of the things I need to work on is how to take better digital photos, especially if I’m going to be posting some of my designs for sale on Etsy.

Ignoring the lighting fail, actually coloring in the mandala went well.  This one is a fairly simple design, but that meant that I could color it in quickly, which is nice.  I like how it turned out, even if my photo skills don’t do it justice.

Maybe I’ll try taking some of the photos with my digital camera rather than my phone and see if that works better.  In the meantime, I’m also experimenting with layering some of my designs and turning those into coloring pages.  Hopefully I’ll have something to post about that here soon.

Learning Curve

FailMy struggle to start my online business continues.  For whatever reason, my brain insists that before I start something, I must know ALL THE THINGS.  So I decided to see how other people were running their sticker businesses on Etsy.

My first goal was to order some stickers from other stores. I had a million questions.  What kind of paper do they use? How do they package their products? What do they charge? How much is postage?  Do they charge shipping?  What about sales tax?

So I purchased some stickers for my own use and I also purchased some stickers that I could download, print, and cut myself. I’m still deciding whether I want to mail out orders, which will add to the cost because of postage and packaging, or whether I want to just sell downloadable files.

So I purchased a couple of downloadable files that also included the cut files so I could use the Cameo and see how things work. Buy the files, download, open, print, cut – easy peasy, right?

Right.

After 30 minutes of work, I was ready to pull out my hair. I made ALL the rookie mistakes. I’d tried to read and research about how to use the software and the cutting machine, so I thought I was ready to go.

Nope.

First, I wanted to try out my new CMYK printer and see what the print quality was like. It was okay, though not as saturated as I thought it would be. The images I was printing were kind of washed out, so I’ll wait and see how I feel after printing more than 3 or 4 pages.

I printed two pages of the stickers I purchased and then got ready to cut them. Opened the cut files and loaded the cutting machine. And then realized, after the cut job failed, that I had just printed the pdf files of the stickers, which don’t include the registration marks that the cutting machine needs to cut.

Sigh.

So, I opened the cut files and printed the stickers again – this time making sure the registration marks printed. So far, so good. Next headache – my Cameo is connected to my PC via bluetooth because it sits too far away from the PC to connect with a cord. Then I got the cut job loaded and ready to go, but when I went to send it to the machine, the bluetooth was continually searching (and not finding) the Cameo.

Grrr.

Deep breath, and then I shut off the Cameo, counted to 5 and turned it back on. Finally, the bluetooth connected and I was able to get the cut job started. I did notice that the blade didn’t seem to have moved (my Cameo came with an auto blade), but I didn’t think much of it. I wanted to track how long it took to cut, so I was watching the clock.

As I said, rookie mistake. When the job finished, the machine had cut, but not deep enough to peel the stickers off easily. Some of them were quite small and they ripped as I tried to take them off, or I couldn’t get them separated at all. Clearly, my blade wasn’t cutting deep enough. Google, here I come.

After spending just a few minutes searching, I found the answer. Because my machine has an auto blade, the machine has to adjust the setting on the blade, rather than me doing it manually (which is how some other machines work). Apparently most newbies insert the blade incorrectly. Mine was actually inserted correctly, so that wasn’t the problem.

I went back to the cut file and realized that the cut file assumes that your machine has a ratchet blade (one that you adjust manually). So, that problem solved. I just change the blade selection to reflect that my machine has the auto blade.

Success! I load the paper to be cut, get the machine connected via bluetooth, and when the job starts, it adjusts the blade. Yay!! I wait another 4 minutes for the job to finish and then I go to remove the sticker paper from the cutting mat. As I pull, I realize that the blade, rather than kiss-cutting the stickers, has instead cut all the way through the paper. Which means when I try to peel the paper off the tacky cutting mat, it comes up in pieces, leaving the stickers stuck to the mat.

Arrrggghhh.

I spent 10 minutes peeling off all the stickers from the mat. Another piece of paper wasted. But – now I know what not to do. So, back to the drawing board. Print the stickers, make sure they have the registration marks, make sure the machine is connected to the PC, and adjust the blade settings so that it doesn’t cut all the way through the paper.

How did it go?

Well, partial success. I adjusted the blade setting, but I left everything else the same. Mistake. I considered adjusting the force/pressure of the blade as well, but I decided not to. After spending more time cutting the stickers, this time I think the blade depth is good, but it is still cutting too deep. Some stickers were fine, but others were still cutting through the backing of the paper. Not enough that I couldn’t pull it off the cutting mat in one piece, but enough to make it unworkable as a setting.

Back to the drawing (cutting?) board. 😛

Who Should I Follow?

img_0087-1Alternative Title: I Suck at Search

A few days ago, past me was be-bopping along, writing some posts (ahead of time, gasp!) and reading through the other blogs I follow.  And I thought, I need some new blogs to add to my reader feed.  So I’ll do a search and find some new and interesting and exciting blogs to follow.  Right?

Sigh.

Maybe it’s because my blog isn’t really a ‘niche’ blog.  Or maybe it’s because I’m interested in everything. (Except creepy crawlies – those can f*ck right off.)

I’m interested in photography, editing photographs, writing, blogging, creating, dungeons and dragons, painting miniatures, mandalas, stickers, self-publishing, running my own business, virtual reality – the list goes on and on.

But I have had no luck just doing searches on WordPress and trying to find other bloggers/writers to support and read.  I mean, I’ve found some that look interesting, but I feel like I must be missing a whole huge lot of them.

So – who do you follow?  Who’s funny? Who makes you think? Who posts pretty things?  I need AALLLLL the links!  Post them below – don’t forget to include your own blog so I can follow you too!