So You Want Brave and Reckless’ Feedback on You Blog. . .Updated 10/2017

I am currently investing a lot of my energy into building up Whisper and the Roar and learning to manage my fibromyalgia, which leaves me with fewer waking hours to review other writer’s blogs.  I have revised my review guidelines below to better reflect my current availability.  My apologies to those of you who have already submitted a request that I have not yet been able to honor– my real life and my WP life are very, very full right now.  You are welcome to your resubmit the request.  As always, the more specific your request, the more quickly I can respond and the more helpful my advice will be.


I have been completely blown away by how many WordPress Bloggers have read Brave and Reckless’ Advice for New WordPress Bloggers Part 1, liked the post and/or have taken the time to leave a thoughtful comment.  I have been trying really hard to respond to each and every comment but I am just one person and I do need to sleep sometime.

I have been really flattered by all the requests to check out your blogs or a particular piece of writing.  I have been trying to honor these requests because I remember all too well what it is like to be a brand new blogger, but my time is limited and giving feedback can be a tricky thing.  Here are some things to keep in mind before you ask me to look at your blog.

  • I can only honor requests to look at your blog if it comes in on the embedded Contact form at the right top hand corner of my blog.  With both my comments section and my personal email exploding since Brave and Reckless’ Advice for New WordPress Bloggers Part 1 went live on Discover, your requests run the risk of  falling off my radar or getting buried in my inbox.
  • Give me 2 to 4 weeks to honor your request.  As I have said before, I have a high-demand day job, two kids, a spouse, a five month old puppy who is chewing on everything and I am a managing editor for three other blogs.  I will try to honor your request but give me a reasonable amount of turnaround time.  If I haven’t gotten back to you in two weeks, feel free to resend the request.  My inbox is scary.
  • I will give my honest feedback.  I get paid to proofread dissertations, manuscripts and other technical writing.  I am never brutal but I am direct and honest. As a writer, it has taken me some time to learn to graciously accept constructive criticism and learn to integrate it.  Make sure that you really want my constructive criticism before you contact me.
  • If you have specific questions or concerns write that in your request!  It is much easier and much more comfortable for me to respond to specific questions about a blog or a blog posts.  Worried that your posts are too long?  Tell me that.  Worried about the tone of your posts?  Tell me that.  The more specific you are, the more tailored and effective my feedback will be.
  • Please don’t ask me to review your blog unless you have at least 5 posts up. Sometimes 3 posts are enough to fairly evaluate a site but 5 will give me a much better idea of your voice and your vibe.
  • PLEASE include a link to your blog in your request!!!!  I wish I had the time to go looking for your blog, but realistically I don’t.  Send me the link for the piece you want me to look at.  If you have a blog design/vibe question, the link to your home page is fine.  Two links maximum please.
  • Remember that I am NOT a blogging professional.  I am just a relatively new blogger myself who happens to do some proofreading and editing of scientific writing as part of my day job.  You and I may have completely different tastes in writing, politics, religion, etc.  You can take my advice or leave my advice but keep in mind that we may just have completely different tastes.  I will do my best to keep an open mind and focus on what you ask me to.

Peace and light,

Christine

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved

 

 

Building WordPress.com Website Success: Brave and Reckless-Jenny McKaig

A few months ago, writer Jenny McKaig asked if I was willing to be interviewed about the growth of Brave and Reckless.  Being deeply flattered at being asked, I of course said yes!  The article just came out and it is my honor to share it with all of you.  Thank you Jenny for taking the time to talk to me.


Want to learn about WordPress.com from the best? Developing a successful WordPress.com website requires commitment to solid content, interaction with your community, and intentional and organic forms of growth. In “Spotlight on Successful Blogs: Learning From the Best,” we spoke with three top bloggers to learn how they built stellar sites. Their interviews were packed with valuable tips, insights, and inspiration — all things that they learned while building successful WordPress.com websites. We’re dishing out the details so that you can set your own website up for success. From learning specific techniques, to cultivating a community and a brand, we think you’ll enjoy learning more about how other successful site owners got their starts.

The first portion of our three-part series focuses on Christine Ray, a blogger at Brave and Reckless. A prolific writer and managing editor at several literary collectives, Christine began building her web presence in 2016 and quickly grew her readership, counting 3,886 followers and 79,000 views to date — and both figures continue to grow daily.

What prompted you to launch your blog?

I launched Brave and Reckless on October 8, 2016. I started the blog to make an essay that I had previously posted on Facebook accessible to a bigger audience. Once I put it up there, it looked kind of lonely. So I started posting other essays that I had previously published on Facebook, then some old poetry that I wrote in high school and college, which led me to wanting to write again. It was a slow, organic process.

How did you grow and develop Brave and Reckless?

I promoted the blog on Facebook among my friends and my college alumnae group, where I received a lot of encouragement and positive feedback about my writing. Once I decided that I was committed to the blog, I started educating myself about the culture. I looked for people who wrote things that I like to read and followed them. I checked out their followers, assuming that we would have similar tastes. I also got brave and started leaving comments. This helped me develop relationships and encourage other bloggers to visit Brave and Reckless.

Was there anything that specifically added to the growth of your site?

My blog has really experienced two growth explosions. The first happened in early December, when I won a Divergent Literature Contest sponsored by The Sudden Denouement Literary Collective with my poem “On Becoming a Writer.”

The second explosion occurred on May 2, 2017, when WordPress.com bestowed upon me the honor of featuring my post, “Brave and Reckless’ Advice for New WordPress Bloggers – Part 1,” on its Discover Feed — which millions of people follow. It was pretty surreal. I went from 164 blog views on May 1st, to 2,439 views by May 2nd. It was thrilling and terrifying all at the same time!

Was your site’s growth strategic and intentional, or organic?

My site’s growth has been mostly organic with lots of good luck. I never believed that I would win a writing contest, and it never crossed my mind that WordPress.com might recognize my blog. I still don’t know how it came to the editors’ attention, but I am deeply, deeply flattered.

How does social media impact your site’s growth?

Facebook had a huge impact when I was first starting out. I had the support of my alumnae community at Mount Holyoke College and would occasionally post my writing on a Seven Sisters alumnae site when I thought it might be of interest. I experimented with Tumblr, but closed that account because there was not enough return on time investment. My blog is set up to post automatically to Facebook and Twitter, which has certainly given me a bigger audience. I started investing more energy into Instagram, which has a large writing community. I am also a visual artist and enjoy making memes. I discovered that I love spoken-word poetry, and record my work as time allows. I do have a small following on SoundCloud, but I suspect that I have turned more WordPress.com bloggers into spoken-word poetry fans than I have turned SoundCloud members into WordPress.com fans!

Has any single post generate more positive feedback than the others? How did it affect you as a blogger, your site, and your community?

My two posts with the biggest reach have been “Brave and Reckless’ Advice for New WordPress Bloggers – Part 1” and “What Every Woman Knows.” For ten days in early May, I felt like all I did was answer questions from new bloggers. I have been asked by so many people to give them feedback on their blogs, that I had to create and post written guidelines! I am sure I have still not gotten back to everyone, but I try to answer every comment and I have looked at as many blogs as I have been able to carve out time for.

Were you familiar with WordPress.com before starting your blog?

I used WordPress.com for work-related projects before starting my own blog.

Are you actively involved in the WordPress.com community?

Absolutely! Finding my tribe and getting to interact with other talented writers is one of my favorite things about WordPress.com. I participate in several writing collectives on WordPress.com and often write collaboratively with other WordPress.com bloggers.

What has been the key for you to authentically engage with your community?

I try to respond to every comment made by readers on my blog, even if it’s just to say “thank you.” I try to follow my favorite writers as best as I can and leave comments. I love to read about new bloggers and try to leave encouraging comments. I share other people’s writing on Brave and Reckless quite frequently and hold fairly regular writing-prompt challenges, which are a lot of fun creatively and help create a sense of community.

Has the WordPress.com community had an impact on your blog?

The WordPress.com community isn’t why I initially came, but it is absolutely why I stay. I made some very close friends on WordPress.com. I discovered great writing partners. I co-founded two writing collectives with other WordPress.com writers, Blood Into Ink and the Go Dog Go Cafe. I believe my writing has improved from reading so much good writing, and I am constantly inspired creatively by the community. I also really love the neighborhood vibe that has developed at Brave and Reckless. It was not a conscious plan of mine to take it in that direction, but I am very happy that it has gone there.

From the beginning of your site to now, take us through the evolution of how it came to be. What was that experience like for you?

In many ways, I view myself as an accidental blogger! I didn’t necessarily come here planning to make this kind of investment in the community, in the site’s development, or in my identity as a writer. Those were all pieces that gradually evolved over time. I came, I got curious, I explored, I met people who became incredible mentors and encouraged me to really think of myself as a writer and poet, not just as a middle–aged woman who writes. I found people who like and appreciate my writing, who helped draw in other people who like and appreciate my writing. I try new things and stick with what feels good. I try to write every day, and I try to support the sites I am involved with every day. I don’t know that Brave and Reckless will ever have a final destination. It has been growing and changing as I grow and change. It is a fluid canvas that reflects my evolution as a writer, an editor, and a blogger.

Any blips along the way? What helped you navigate those challenges?

One of the hardest challenges is to make time and honor my commitment to writing. It is far too easy to get caught up in the busyness of everything else in my life and my blogging world, and not to prioritize my own writing. I also allowed myself at times to become over-committed to my WordPress.com projects and my sleep and downtime suffered. There is an art to finding the right balance and being realistic about your time and energy. Writing is a commitment to yourself. Running a successful blog requires time and care, and learning how to use tools and skills that may be unfamiliar.

How did you choose your blog’s template? What was that process like for you?

I have changed my template twice since I started off. I like clean lines and I am highly visual. I have been known to spend more time choosing an image than I spend on writing the piece! Finding something that visually captures the feel of my writing is important to me. I am a pretty intrepid experimenter and have spent hours on the weekend “trying on” different themes until I found one that I thought offered the look I was going for visually, while being user-friendly. There is a huge amount of content on my site and I have had to work at making it easy for people to find and navigate it.

What’s your process in selecting the graphics to highlight on your site?

I love looking at images, and will often download many images that appeal to me when I visit Pixabay or Pexel when I need just the right image. I keep pretty extensive image files to draw on. I am not rigid about my “look,” but I love high-impact black-and-white photography, fantasy imagery, and strong women. I spend a lot of time on image selection, but I feel that it is time well spent.

What decision-making process did you use to create a site with an extensive reach?

Honestly, I became a sponge and walked through most doors that opened for me. I have had fabulous mentors, and I have had a lot of luck.

How much content do you share, and how often?

I share a lot of content. On any given day, I might share a new poem, repost an older poem that I am fond of, post a submission from another writer to one of my writing prompts, and either post a thought of the day, a daily song, a spoken word piece, or share something from another blog. There is a fine line between bringing traffic to your site and overwhelming your readers. As I have become more confident about the quality of the content I share, I worry less about this. I am a very versatile blogger and have more than one type of follower. I am able to appeal to many types of readers.

Did you have any major epiphanies as your blog evolved?

I really think the biggest epiphanies for me were around realizing “Oh, I guess I’m a blogger now. Better figure out what that means,” and taking myself seriously as a writer. Honestly, one of the biggest surprises for me on WordPress.com was that other people liked my writing, that I spoke to their experiences, and that I had so much to say.

What advice would you give to those starting a WordPress.com website?

  • Make writing a daily habit and post frequently. You will become a better, more confident writer, and it will be easier for readers to find you.
  • Remember that many WordPress.com readers are following you on a smartphone or tablet and reading you during lunch. Shorter posts are more likely to be read.
  • Look for writing that excites you, resonates with you, makes you smile, fits your interests and Follow them. Reading good writing makes you a better writer. Writers who write what you like to read have followers you have something in common with. Check out their followers — very often these are also people you will want to follow.
  • Don’t think of this as a numbers game. We post our writing because we want it to be read, but 15 really engaged readers can sometimes give you a lot more than 200 disengaged readers.
  • If someone takes the time to comment on one of your blog posts, respond (even if it’s just to say “thank you”). Most relationships on WordPress.com develop from replies.

What have you found to be the best ways to connect with your readership and audience?

Find writers whose work excites you and follow their blogs by email. Check out other bloggers who follow them. Leave thoughtful comments. Answer comments left on your posts (unless they are creepy or upsetting.) Never say “I’ll follow your blog if you follow mine.” This is not a popularity contest. People put their hearts and souls into their writing. Show respect.

What results have you seen from building your blog?

My whole life has changed since I posted that first blog post last October! I have found myself as a writer, have found a community of writers who challenge, inspire, and support me, and feel like I have had real impact on people. It has also been extremely powerful to me to speak my truth. It has encouraged me to live my life in a braver and more reckless (less careful and controlled) way. I have connected with people all over the world. I have even started taking writing classes at the university that I work at. The ripple effect has been enormous. Who knew?!

To read the original article, please visit https://wordpress.com/go/build/building-wordpress-com-website-success-brave-and-reckless/

Brave and Reckless’ Advice for New WordPress Bloggers– FAQ

Brave and Reckless has been visited by a lot of new bloggers in recent weeks and they have asked me a lot of really good questions that I didn’t address in Brave and Reckless’ Advice for New WordPress Bloggers– Part 1 and Part 2.  I decided to create a FAQ post that I plan to update on an ongoing basis to house the most common questions that have come up.  Plan on revisiting this blog post—I have more content lined and will continue to answer new questions as they come up

Content

Q. What should my first blog piece be about?

A. Some bloggers write very nice, clear introductory first posts introducing themselves and outlining what they will be blogging about. I was NOT one of those bloggers! I simply hadn’t thought enough about what I was doing here and how I might want my blog to evolve.  My first post was What Every Woman Knows, which is a piece I originally posted on Facebook.  Not at all a typical first post but it did set a tone and tell the readers a LOT about who I am as a writer and as a person.  It is a piece I continue to revisit and refine.

Q. What should I write about?

A. One of the best pieces of advice I can give a new blogger is write what you know and what you are passionate about. I always try to write things that I personally would enjoy reading. I firmly believe that you  should “do you” when you blog.  Your truths is your truth. People are either going to like your writing voice or they won’t, but there are millions of readers on WordPress and you will really resonate for some of them.

Some bloggers are very focused in what they write.  I am pretty eclectic and that works for me.  Poetry is my preferred language but I also write essays, fiction and passionately love music.  I also have fallen in love with making Spoken Word versions of my poetry and sometimes will post these as standalone blogs.  I also am very comfortable reblogging other writers who rock my world.

Categories and Tags

Q: What are tags? What tags should I put? Should the tags have hashtags?

A: When you are setting up a new post, you should set your categories and tags. I keep my categories broad– Poetry, Fiction, Daily Song, etc. Tags, or hashtags, are more specific keywords that help people search in browsers for subjects that interest them. I usually only use one or two categories (e.g. Poetry) but five to ten tags to help people find my writing.  I was pretty clueless about hashtags when I started out and did not use them effectively.  I learned a lot by reading more experienced bloggers tags and just asking myself: what words would I use to search for this piece on Google?

For this piece, I plan to use the following tags: amwriting, WordPress, blogging, new bloggers, tips, guide for new bloggers, and FAQ. WordPress will automatically add the hashtag symbol.  Most tagging is functional, but my friend Ward Clever has made tagging an art form. I like to read his posts just to see how he’s tagged them!

 Comment/Reply Moderation

Q: Should I moderate comments to my posts?

A:  Some bad experiences on Facebook influenced my decision to start moderating my comments.  I did not want to wake up in the morning to nasty or stalker-ish comments on my blog posts.  I have actually found the WP community to be super supportive and have only had the occasional weird/argumentative/unpleasant comment that I have decided not to approve.  I do, however, write a lot about depression, PTSD, rape, sexual abuse, and loss and attract readers who have wrestled with these issues.  I have decided to continue to moderate my comments to give me some control over comments that might be upsetting for my readers.  Moderating comments to my posts also ensures that I notice ever comment because they are flagged until I approve them.  That said, moderating my comments is time consuming and causes delays in them appearing on my posts.  For me it’s worth the inconvenience So my answer is, do what feels most comfortable for you and your readers.

Pseudonyms/About Page

Q: It is not safe/comfortable/practical for me to post under my real name.  Is that unusual?

A: Lots of WordPress bloggers use pseudonyms.  If I had given it more thought when I was starting out. Maybe I would have used a pseudonym (I am partial to Indigo Dragonfly but that I digress. . . ) For for first month or two that I was on WP, I kept a pretty cryptic About page without my name or my photo.  As I got more comfortable with my identity as a writer and with the community, I decided to really live being Brave and Reckless.

Q: I am uncomfortable talking about myself on my About page. What should I do?

 A: Lots bloggers just write a sentence or two, write something humorous or just delete the page, completely though I do find that I get a fair amount of traffic on my About page.  I think it helps readers feel more connected to me as a writer and I certainly have visited my fair share of About pages just wanting to know more about  someone whose writing I have just read.  I have also rewritten my About page, many, many times and suspect I will continue to.  My favorite biography on WP was written by a writer named  Nathan McCool. I think his response is brilliant  and ended up revealing a LOT about who he is:

“A biography? What would I tell you? That I am a drunk miserable sod that writes and plays music and wanders nomadically? That I try fruitlessly to scatter around whatever goodness is in me in hopes that maybe someone else wouldn’t feel as miserable as I do? That I’m just some dumb, angry man that cares too much despite wishing I truly didn’t give a damn?

Do you really think that would matter? Anything I could tell you would just be what I think and feel about myself. Is that really who anyone is?

The point I’m making is that it doesn’t matter what I tell you. Anything anyone needs to know about anyone else doesn’t come from some shit they say about themselves. What people are and the way that they choose to exist as a conscious human is what a biography should say, but those things are actions and reactions and the outward representations of what is inside someone. You can’t tell that in words.”

Drop the mic.

Monetizing Your Blog

Q: Can I make money from blogging on WP?

A: Completely not my area of expertise! I defer to the experts on this one. I found this helpful article in the WordPress Support Pages: Monitize Your Site 

 

To read more blogging advice, visit:

Brave and Reckless’Advice for New WordPress Bloggers– Part 1

Brave and Reckless’Advice for New WordPress Bloggers– Part 2

 

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved

Brave and Reckless’Advice for New WordPress Bloggers– Part 2

I wanted to address some additional blogging issues that I have encountered.

Reblogging Other Writers Work: Having your work reblogged-as long as you are properly cited- is considered one of the highest compliments in the blogging world.  To reblog or not to reblog another writer’s work can be a hard decision to make when you are first starting out.  When I was first starting out, I would occasionally reblog other people’s work.  The good news is that it would often bring more traffic onto my blog but then I would get really depressed if my new followers  greeted other people’s writing with more enthusiasm than they were giving mine.

This is much less of an issue now as the quality of my writing has improved as well as my confidence.  I am pretty ecumenical about reblogs.  Sometimes I reblog writing from my favorite established writers (Olde Punk, Candice Lousia Daquin, S.K. Nicholas, Lois E. Linkens, Nicole Lyons and Jasper Kerkau are just a few.) Sometimes I reblog people who I have just discovered who I think are so terrific that I think my readers will think are terrific too.  I have recently published exciting work by Dom at Bold, Beat. . . &NiplessDevereaux Frazier, ohellino, S Francis, Ryan Kelton, Aakriti Kuntal, Christina Strigas, and Hudson Biko Mwalagho.

One my favorite things about having almost 700 followers, many who read me regularly, is being able to pay it forward for other writers.  The support of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective and Felicia Denise was invaluable in getting me exposure to an audience who my writing speaks to.  Their support is a debt I can never fully repay.

Guest Blogs:  Lots of guides to WordPress recommend not writing guest blogs or posting guest blogs.  I have written one guest blog and it was a perfectly fine experience.  I don’t think the blog I wrote for is even still active but it wasn’t a bad or exploitative experience.  If the blog otherwise fits your values and aesthetics and you are welcome to reblog to your own blog, I say trust your own judgement on this one. I have been talking to a couple of people about writing guest blogs for Brave and Reckless.  I don’t need the content—I am a very prolific writing– but I have a couple of friends and acquaintances with amazing writing voices who are trying to decide if they want to blog and I am happy to let them get their toes wet here.

Collaborations: I was always the person who hated group assignments in school.  Ironically, I have discovered that I love to collaborate on creative writing projects.  In fact, another writer sending me a stanza to play with is like a Christmas present.  Each collaboration is its own journey.  Sometimes collaborations work best when they are a dialogue (Uncharted Nights, Careless Whisper) and sometimes words can be woven in a way that you no longer remember what you wrote and what your partner wrote (Our Undertow).  Sometimes I write with one other person, sometimes many (The Weyward Sisters: Hand in Hand.)

Collaborations are creativity challenging and exciting and great way to really get to know another writer.

Reblogging Your Own Work:  I write a lot. I try to write daily. It occurred to me recently that many of my older pieces were only read by a handful of people because I only had a few followers.  It has been a good experience for me creatively (and sometimes deeply illuminating emotionally) to go back and revisit these older pieces.  Sometimes when I revisit a piece I only remove a word or two.  Sometimes I take something with good bones and transform it.  It is all part of my journey as a writer and takes pressure off of me when the ideas are not flowing as easily.

Experienced WordPress bloggers, feel free to add your advice for new bloggers below.

To read more blogging advice, visit:

Brave and Reckless’Advice for New WordPress Bloggers– Part 1

Brave and Reckless’ Advice for New WordPress Bloggers– FAQ

 

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved

Brave and Reckless’Advice for New WordPress Bloggers– Part 1

It wasn’t so long ago that I was a brand new blogger at WordPress. I started my blog at the beginning of October with no real goals in mind other than making one particular piece of writing publicly available for sharing. I chose WordPress because we use it at work and several friends spoke highly of the community.  It wasn’t until I saw my first piece of original writing on my blog that I started thinking what next?

I knew nothing about blogging. But I did know that all communities have their own unique culture and through a combination of trial and error, generous mentors and reading several really good guides to WordPress, I found my footing here.  I remain just as flattered today that someone has read and responded to my writing as I did that first day.

I have had numerous new bloggers approach me asking how to grow their blogs.  I have no magic insights but I am happy to share what worked for me.

  1. Read guides for new bloggers. WordPress offers some great guides but some of the most useful information is from other bloggers.
  1. Make writing a daily habit and post frequently. You will become a better, more confident writer and it will be easier for readers to find you.
  1. Subscribe and respond to the Daily Post. Responding to and reading the Daily Posts is a great way to find other writers who turn you on, push yourself creatively and bring new readers to your blog.
  1. Tag wisely. Good tags make it easier for people to find you.
  1. Remember that many WordPress readers are following you on a SmartPhone or tablet and reading you at lunch. Shorter posts are more likely to get read.  You can always divide a longer post into sections that you can publish separately if you have a lot to say.
  1. Look for writing that excites you/resonates with you/makes you smile/fits your interests and FOLLOW those blogs.  Reading good writing makes you a better writer.  Writers who write what you like to read have followers you have something in common with.  Check out their followers- very often these are also people you will want to follow.
  1. If a blog you love has the option of subscribing by email, do it. When I first started it was easy to keep up with new posts.  I am currently following a hundreds of other writers and I really appreciate those emails that keep me from missing posts from my favorites.
  1. Reply to blog posts that are meaningful to you.  There is no greater compliment to me as a writer than hearing that my writing resonated for a reader.  If you are shy or don’t know what to say, “Wow,” “loved this,” or “This spoke to me,” says volumes.  I have been known simply to reply “Sigh” to particularly beautiful writing.
  1. New bloggers tend to be very enthused about promoting their blogs. There is a fine line between posting “Hey, I’m a new blogger. Come check out my blog/follow me” and “Your writing really resonated for me.  I think we have a lot in common.”  If you ask me to check out your blog and you haven’t followed me, I tend to think that you are more interested in numbers than in my writing.
  1. I am a really busy person—I have a day job, kids, spouse, elderly dog with a bladder control problem and I am a managing editor for other blogs. If you say “Check out my site and tell me what you think” I may put that off until that mythical moment when I have more time.  If you say, “I would really appreciate your feedback on my post X” and provide the link, I feel less overwhelmed and am more likely to do it right away.
  1. Don’t think of this as a numbers game. We post our writing because we want to be read, but 15 really engaged readers can sometimes give you a lot more than 200 disengaged readers. Numbers are a funny thing on WordPress.  It took me a really long time to hit 300 readers.  It took about 6 weeks to go from 300 to 400 readers.  It only took 3 weeks for me to go from 400 to 500!
  1. Remember that when you reply to a post you are doing so in a public forum.  Sometimes the discussions we get into here are really not for general consumption.  It is always okay to ask to take a discussion offline.
  1. Unless someone specifically asks for your constructive criticism, don’t offer it on WordPress. Support and respect are the culture of WordPress.  Writers are putting their heart and souls on the screen here.  If you don’t like or love a piece of writing, quietly move along and find something you do to comment on.
  1. If someone takes the time to comment on one of your blog posts, RESPOND. Even if it’s just to say thank you. Most relationships on WordPress develop in replies.  I have met wonderful people here on WordPress and what keeps me here is the incredible community of writers.
  1. Learn where your Comment Spam folder is on your Dashboard and check it regularly. It is really good at capturing spam but sometimes it gets overzealous.

Other experienced bloggers: What important tips have I forgotten?

 

To read more blogging advice, visit:

Brave and Reckless’Advice for New WordPress Bloggers– Part 2

Brave and Reckless’ Advice for New WordPress Bloggers– FAQ

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved

So You Want Brave and Reckless’ Feedback on You Blog. . .Updated 6/6/2017

I am currently investing a lot of my energy into building up Secret First Draft and the Go Dog Go Cafe, which leaves me with less free time to look at other people’s blogs.  I have revised my guidelines below to better reflect my current availability.  My apologies to those of you who have already submitted a request that I have not yet been able to honor– my real life and my WP life are very, very full right now.  You are welcome to resubmit the request.  As always, the more specific your request, the more quickly I can respond and the more helpful my advice will be.


I have been completely blown away by how many WordPress Bloggers have read Brave and Reckless’ Advice for New WordPress Bloggers Part 1, liked the post and/or have taken the time to leave a thoughtful comment.  I have been trying really hard to respond to each and every comment but I am just one person and I do need to sleep sometime.

I have been really flattered by all the requests to check out your blogs or a particular piece of writing.  I have been trying to honor these requests because I remember all too well what it is like to be a brand new blogger, but my time is limited and giving feedback can be a tricky thing.  Here are some things to keep in mind before you ask me to look at your blog.

  • I can only honor requests to look at your blog if it comes in on the embedded Contact form at the right top hand corner of my blog.  With both my comments section and my personal email exploding since Brave and Reckless’ Advice for New WordPress Bloggers Part 1 went live on Discover, your requests run the risk of  falling off my radar or getting buried in my inbox.
  • Give me 2 to 4 weeks to honor your request.  As I have said before, I have a high-demand day job, two kids, a spouse, an elderly dog with health problems and I am a managing editor for four other blogs.  I will try to honor your request but give me a reasonable amount of turnaround time.  If I haven’t gotten back to you in two weeks, feel free to resend the request.  My inbox is scary.
  • I will give my honest feedback.  I get paid to proofread dissertations, manuscripts and other technical writing.  I am never brutal but I am direct and honest. As a writer, it has taken me some time to learn to graciously accept constructive criticism and learn to integrate it.  Make sure that you really want my constructive criticism before you contact me.
  • If you have specific questions or concerns write that in your request!  It is much easier and much more comfortable for me to respond to specific questions about a blog or a blog posts.  Worried that your posts are too long?  Tell me that.  Worried about the tone of your posts?  Tell me that.  The more specific you are, the more tailored and effective my feedback will be.
  • Please don’t ask me to review your blog unless you have at least 5 posts up. Sometimes 3 posts are enough to fairly evaluate a site but 5 will give me a much better idea of your voice and your vibe.
  • PLEASE include a link to your blog in your request!!!!  I wish I had the time to go looking for your blog, but realistically I don’t.  Send me the link for the piece you want me to look at.  If you have a blog design/vibe question, the link to your home page is fine.  Two links maximum please.
  • Remember that I am NOT a blogging professional.  I am just a relatively new blogger myself who happens to do some proofreading and editing of scientific writing as part of my day job.  You and I may have completely different tastes in writing, politics, religion, etc.  You can take my advice or leave my advice but keep in mind that we may just have completely different tastes.  I will do my best to keep an open mind and focus on what you ask me to.

Peace and light,

Christine

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved

 

 

So You Want Brave and Reckless’ Feedback on You Blog. . .

I have been completely blown away by how many WordPress Bloggers have read Brave and Reckless’ Advice for New WordPress Bloggers Part 1, liked the post and/or have taken the time to leave a thoughtful comment.  I have been trying really hard to respond to each and every comment but I am just one person and I do need to sleep sometime.

I have been really flattered by all the requests to check out your blogs or a particular piece of writing.  I have been trying to honor these requests because I remember all too well what it is like to be a brand new blogger, but my time is limited and giving feedback can be a tricky thing.  Here are some things to keep in mind before you ask me to look at your blog.

  • I can only honor requests to look at your blog if it comes in on the embedded Contact form at the right top hand corner of my blog.  With both my comments section and my personal email exploding since Brave and Reckless’ Advice for New WordPress Bloggers Part 1 went live on Discover, your requests run the risk of  falling off my radar or getting buried in my inbox.
  • Give me 2 to 4 weeks to honor your request.  As I have said before, I have a high-demand day job, two kids, a spouse, an elderly dog with health problems and I am a managing editor for four other blogs.  I will try to honor your request but give me a reasonable amount of turnaround time.  If I haven’t gotten back to you in two weeks, feel free to resend the request.  My inbox is scary.
  • I will give my honest feedback.  I get paid to proofread dissertations, manuscripts and other technical writing.  I am never brutal but I am direct and honest. As a writer, it has taken me some time to learn to graciously accept constructive criticism and learn to integrate it.  Make sure that you really want my constructive criticism before you contact me.
  • If you have specific questions or concerns write that in your request!  It is much easier and much more comfortable for me to respond to specific questions about a blog or a blog posts.  Worried that your posts are too long?  Tell me that.  Worried about the tone of your posts?  Tell me that.  The more specific you are, the more tailored and effective my feedback will be.
  • Please don’t ask me to review your blog unless you have at least 5 posts up. Sometimes 3 posts are enough to fairly evaluate a site but 5 will give me a much better idea of your voice and your vibe.
  • PLEASE include a link to your blog in your request!!!!  I wish I had the time to go looking for your blog, but realistically I don’t.  Send me the link for the piece you want me to look at.  If you have a blog design/vibe question, the link to your home page is fine.  Two links maximum please.
  • Remember that I am NOT a blogging professional.  I am just a relatively new blogger myself who happens to do some proofreading and editing of scientific writing as part of my day job.  You and I may have completely different tastes in writing, politics, religion, etc.  You can take my advice or leave my advice but keep in mind that we may just have completely different tastes.  I will do my best to keep an open mind and focus on what you ask me to.

Peace and light,

Christine

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved

 

 

“Brave and Reckless” Advice: Five Tips for New Bloggers from Christine Ray

Thank you WordPress Discover for the shout-out!

Discover

Just several months into her blogging adventure on WordPress.com, Christine Ray of Brave and Reckless started to figure out what worked for her — and what didn’t — while navigating this online community. For a dose of Christine’s advice, here are five tips on building a successful site and growing a loyal audience.


1) Learn from peers or people you admire.

Read guides for new bloggers. WordPress offers some great guides but some of the most useful information is from other bloggers.

2) Consider how people read you.

Remember that many WordPress readers are following you on a SmartPhone or tablet and reading you at lunch. Shorter posts are more likely to get read. You can always divide a longer post into sections that you can publish separately if you have a lot to say.

3) Read as much as possible — and find your people. 

Look for writing…

View original post 169 more words

Brave and Reckless’ Advice for New WordPress Bloggers– FAQ

Brave and Reckless has been visited by a lot of new bloggers in recent weeks and they have asked me a lot of really good questions that I didn’t address in Brave and Reckless’ Advice for New WordPress Bloggers– Part 1 and Part 2.  I decided to create a FAQ post that I plan to update on an ongoing basis to house the most common questions that have come up.  Plan on revisiting this blog post—I have more content lined and will continue to answer new questions as they come up

Content

Q. What should my first blog piece be about?

A. Some bloggers write very nice, clear introductory first posts introducing themselves and outlining what they will be blogging about. I was NOT one of those bloggers! I simply hadn’t thought enough about what I was doing here and how I might want my blog to evolve.  My first post was What Every Woman Knows, which is a piece I originally posted on Facebook.  Not at all a typical first post but it did set a tone and tell the readers a LOT about who I am as a writer and as a person.  It is a piece I continue to revisit and refine.

Q. What should I write about?

A. One of the best pieces of advice I can give a new blogger is write what you know and what you are passionate about. I always try to write things that I personally would enjoy reading. I firmly believe that you  should “do you” when you blog.  Your truths is your truth. People are either going to like your writing voice or they won’t, but there are millions of readers on WordPress and you will really resonate for some of them.

Some bloggers are very focused in what they write.  I am pretty eclectic and that works for me.  Poetry is my preferred language but I also write essays, fiction and passionately love music.  I also have fallen in love with making Spoken Word versions of my poetry and sometimes will post these as standalone blogs.  I also am very comfortable reblogging other writers who rock my world.

Categories and Tags

Q: What are tags? What tags should I put? Should the tags have hashtags?

A: When you are setting up a new post, you should set your categories and tags. I keep my categories broad– Poetry, Fiction, Daily Song, etc. Tags, or hashtags, are more specific keywords that help people search in browsers for subjects that interest them. I usually only use one or two categories (e.g. Poetry) but five to ten tags to help people find my writing.  I was pretty clueless about hashtags when I started out and did not use them effectively.  I learned a lot by reading more experienced bloggers tags and just asking myself: what words would I use to search for this piece on Google?

For this piece, I plan to use the following tags: amwriting, WordPress, blogging, new bloggers, tips, guide for new bloggers, and FAQ. WordPress will automatically add the hashtag symbol.  Most tagging is functional, but my friend Ward Clever has made tagging an art form. I like to read his posts just to see how he’s tagged them!

 Comment/Reply Moderation

Q: Should I moderate comments to my posts?

A:  Some bad experiences on Facebook influenced my decision to start moderating my comments.  I did not want to wake up in the morning to nasty or stalker-ish comments on my blog posts.  I have actually found the WP community to be super supportive and have only had the occasional weird/argumentative/unpleasant comment that I have decided not to approve.  I do, however, write a lot about depression, PTSD, rape, sexual abuse, and loss and attract readers who have wrestled with these issues.  I have decided to continue to moderate my comments to give me some control over comments that might be upsetting for my readers.  Moderating comments to my posts also ensures that I notice ever comment because they are flagged until I approve them.  That said, moderating my comments is time consuming and causes delays in them appearing on my posts.  For me it’s worth the inconvenience So my answer is, do what feels most comfortable for you and your readers.

Pseudonyms/About Page

Q: It is not safe/comfortable/practical for me to post under my real name.  Is that unusual?

A: Lots of WordPress bloggers use pseudonyms.  If I had given it more thought when I was starting out. Maybe I would have used a pseudonym (I am partial to Indigo Dragonfly but that I digress. . . ) For for first month or two that I was on WP, I kept a pretty cryptic About page without my name or my photo.  As I got more comfortable with my identity as a writer and with the community, I decided to really live being Brave and Reckless.

Q: I am uncomfortable talking about myself on my About page. What should I do?

 A: Lots bloggers just write a sentence or two, write something humorous or just delete the page, completely though I do find that I get a fair amount of traffic on my About page.  I think it helps readers feel more connected to me as a writer and I certainly have visited my fair share of About pages just wanting to know more about  someone whose writing I have just read.  I have also rewritten my About page, many, many times and suspect I will continue to.  My favorite biography on WP was written by a writer named  Nathan McCool. I think his response is brilliant  and ended up revealing a LOT about who he is:

“A biography? What would I tell you? That I am a drunk miserable sod that writes and plays music and wanders nomadically? That I try fruitlessly to scatter around whatever goodness is in me in hopes that maybe someone else wouldn’t feel as miserable as I do? That I’m just some dumb, angry man that cares too much despite wishing I truly didn’t give a damn?

Do you really think that would matter? Anything I could tell you would just be what I think and feel about myself. Is that really who anyone is?

The point I’m making is that it doesn’t matter what I tell you. Anything anyone needs to know about anyone else doesn’t come from some shit they say about themselves. What people are and the way that they choose to exist as a conscious human is what a biography should say, but those things are actions and reactions and the outward representations of what is inside someone. You can’t tell that in words.”

Drop the mic.

Monetizing Your Blog

Q: Can I make money from blogging on WP?

A: Completely not my area of expertise! I defer to the experts on this one. I found this helpful article in the WordPress Support Pages: Monitize Your Site 

 

To read more blogging advice, visit:

Brave and Reckless’Advice for New WordPress Bloggers– Part 1

Brave and Reckless’Advice for New WordPress Bloggers– Part 2

 

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved