My Writing Journey: The How And Why I Started Writing With Advice For Aspiring Writers Included

When Did You Begin Writing?

Many children begin a hobby when they are young. For example, they get involved in sports, swimming, gymnastics, dance, martial arts, etc. As soon as I was able, I held a pencil in my hand and started writing. I received many diaries and journals as gifts when I was younger. I excelled in writing assignments in school whether it was writing a report, essay, or something of the sort. My writing journey began by writing my day-to-day thoughts in a journal.

In the 3rd grade, I wrote my first poem for a poetry contest. It was about elephants, which is my favorite animal by the way. Unfortunately, I did not win the contest, but that is when I really grew to love writing even more.

Why Do You Write?

Writing began as a hobby and soon turned into a passion. I write because I want to. It has always been for me. I initially would hide my journals away somewhere in my room, but one day I started reading my thoughts to those closest to me. They would tell me that my words were powerful. I had no idea my words carried that amount of weight. I was just free writing most days.

Writing has always been and always will be my form of expression. What was once a hobby then became my form of healing. There have been certain traumas in my life and I turned to writing to express my inner thoughts. Writing has always offered me comfort that people simply could not.

What Or Who Inspires You?

When I was not writing in a journal, I was reading as often as I could. I know this is probably not common, but I was one of those students in school who actually enjoyed summer reading. One of my favorite books, (I have a tattoo from the book actually) that I read over the course of one summer, The Kite Runner, is my favorite to this day.

As a teenager, I was obsessed with the Twilight Series, the Hunger Games, the Divergent Series, Fifty Shades, and a few others. My tastes in genres have evolved over time.

In my early twenties, I began to gravitate towards poetry mostly. I promised myself I would read the entire poetry section of Barnes & Noble once and I think I did pretty well. I’ve read all of Lang Leav’s books, I’m obsessed with Rupi Kaur, Atticus, and a few others.

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

What Is Your Writing Process Like?

My writing process varies. Sometimes I need absolute silence and other times I need music playing in order to focus. I need a cup of coffee of course or several. I do most of my writing on my laptop. When I do not have access to my laptop or I’m on the go, I usually put thoughts that come to me randomly in the notes on my phone. Once I begin writing and really zone in on my work, I can lock myself away in the room for hours.

Do You Plan To Make A Career Out Of Writing?

For the time being, I manage my blog for the sole purpose of putting my writing out into the world. I did not know where this blog would lead me, nor did I think I would grow a following on twitter, but I am forever grateful. I have interacted with some wonderful creatives in the writing community who have helped me in certain areas.

If the opportunity presents itself, I am certainly interested in making writing a side hustle. I would be open to freelance work or other opportunities if they come my way. I majored in creative writing in college and one of my goals is to publish at least one book in my lifetime.

What Kind Of Books Do You Want To Publish?

The thing with me is I do not want to be defined by one genre or a certain type of writing. I want to become a well-rounded writer, therefore, this means exploring every possibly avenue. Currently, I hope to publish a book of fiction, maybe a memoir, a short story anthology, books of poetry, and a children’s book which is being worked on soon.

What Advice Would You Give To Aspiring Writers?

The best advice I can give anyone who is thinking of writing is this: never lose sight of why you started writing in the first place. If it becomes a chore to write or you are too focused on making money or becoming published, you will quickly fizzle out. For instance, my sole focus is writing for my own benefit. The money and the publications can come later. However, I write because it is something I enjoy.

I would also advise that confidence is of the utmost importance. A wise person once told me, “Not everyone will understand your craft and this is okay.” That is such a powerful statement. Writing is a difficult profession. Rejection will happen often. You have to push through that. Never lose sight of why you started, how you started, and where you are going. Trust your process, always.

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on Pexels.com

As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to comment below or tweet me on twitter: @msdakotawrites if you have any feedback. It is always greatly appreciated! 🙂

Until next time,

Dakota 🙂

How To Write A Powerful Resume & Cover Letter To Stand Out From The Crowd

2020 has been an eventful year so far. We are living through a pandemic and considering the unprecedented times, many people are either unemployed or have lost their jobs which is heartbreaking. Hopefully, things return to normal soon and when they do–people can return to work.

Aside from running my blog and writing stories, I also enjoy resume writing. I have written numerous resumes with cover letters for several family members and friends. I wanted to write a post about what I think many people should know: how to write a resume and make yourself stand out from the big pile of other applications an employer will be sorting through. This post was requested by followers on Twitter. I also believe it can be considered a necessary read when people are able to return to work and are searching for new jobs.

I will provide you with the necessary steps you need to write an outstanding resume.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

How To Structure Your Resume: Beginning To End

  • OUTLINE. List your employment and education from the last 10 years. Write down the jobs you held with 2-3 sentences about what your job entailed and what your duties/responsibilities were.
  • STYLE. The standard format should be size 12 font and Times New Roman. However, if you want to be creative, you can choose a font that is similar to Times New Roman, still professional, and easy to read. The style of your resume is entirely your preference.
  • HEADLINE. At the top of your resume should be your headline. Your headline should include your full name, address, current phone number, if providing more than one number, identify if it is a cell/business phone, etc., current email, LinkedIn, or other important social links you want to provide.
  • EMAIL. Your email should also be professional. Refrain from emails that are too long. I would always recommend first initial, middle initial, last name, or however you see fit. However, if your email has a nickname with numbers after for instance, this is not necessarily appropriate.
  • LENGTH. A resume should be 1-2 pages max, However, I would recommend trying to contain everything in one page. If you have 2 pages consider having the resume printed double-sided.
  • PAST TENSE. Your resume should be written in past tense. When detailing a current position, you can use present tense.
  • USE ACTION VERBS. For example, supervised, managed, etc.
  • SHORT AND SWEET. You always have to remember that your resume should be read in 30 seconds or less. You have 30 seconds to sell yourself.
Photo by Peter Olexa on Pexels.com

What To Do If You Lack Job Experience:

Begin With Highlighting Your Education

If you have held few jobs, 5 or less for instance, you should consider beginning your resume by highlighting your education.

  • EDUCATION. When highlighting your education these are the areas you should cover: name of university or program, license or certificate acquired, your GPA, classes you took, clubs you participated in, or other essential information you believe will help you land the job.
  • NO WHITE SPACE. You do not want white space anywhere in your resume. Fill that space in with content.
  • Include a SKILLS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS section. This is where you can highlight any awards or certificates you have acquired as it pertains to the job. It provides more detail on who you are, what you enjoy, and your work ethic.
  • VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE. This section of your resume allows the employer/company to see that aside from your daily activities you have also participated in other groups/organizations, etc. Therefore, you are depicting yourself as a well-rounded individual who is community oriented.
  • REFERENCES. If you want to go the extra mile, I recommend including your references already listed. It shows you are prepared and planning ahead.

How To Write A Cover Letter In 7 Simple Steps

Your cover letter is your chance to be personal, really highlight why you want the job, why you are the right candidate, and really leave a lasting impression on the employer reading your application, which could possibly lead to a phone call for an interview.

  • When you have the name of the person you will be interviewing with or the name of the company, you want to address the letter to them. It makes it more personal. Go this extra mile.
  • Format the letter properly with name/address of company, your address and information, along with the date.
  • You should highlight who you are and why you want the job in 2 paragraphs or less.
  • QUALITY OVER QUANTITY.
  • You should cover the following: note any background information you know abut the company or position being applied for, why you are qualified, how your past experience is relevant, and why you are the right candidate for the job.
  • Always ensure your information is up-to-date especially your email and phone number.
  • Ensure you SIGN the letter.
Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

I hope this post can help my followers with building a powerful resume and cover letter to land the job they want.

Last but not least, CONFIDENCE. You can always sell yourself on paper, but if you are called in for an interview, confidence is of the utmost importance. If you would like to see a follow-up post describing what you should do the day of the interview, feel free to connect with me on twitter to let me know!

As always, please feel free to comment below, email me: msdakotawrites@gmail.com, or tweet me: @msdakotawrites on twitter. I would be delighted to hear about your experiences with creating a resume!

Until next time,

Dakota 🙂

Overcoming Writer’s Block 10 Different Ways

I was once told by a professor in college that, “It is easy for us as writers to try and edit while we write instead of just writing. Sometimes we doubt ourselves with what we write, but some of your best content could come from just free writing. Write until you hit that wall.”

‘Write until you hit that wall,’ is what I remember most from the entirety of that semester. But, this blog post is about how to get past that ‘wall.’

The following 10 strategies are what I usually use when I am experiencing writer’s block.

  • Step away from your laptop. Take a walk. Get some air. Clear your head.
  • COFFEE. Need I say more?
  • READ. Whenever I am not writing, I read. I am always reading about 3 books at once.
  • Listen to music. Sometimes a playlist inspires me.
  • Talking to family and friends. Sometimes my greatest ideas come from random conversations I have with those closest to me.
  • Take a shower or a bubble bath. Sometimes a hot shower helps me.
  • Exercise.
  • Watching TV/Netflix. Being a writer means I observe many things. I can get ideas from watching certain gestures, someone’s body language, or the way a group of people interact with one another.
  • Self-care days. When I take time for myself to rejuvenate and get re-inspired, I take a long shower, wash my face and then moisturize, paint my nails, get a massage, etc. I do not write when I’m stressed. I do my best work when I’m relaxed and can focus 100%.
  • This may sound silly, but sleep works. Taking a nap to give myself a break. Trust me, take a nap especially if you’ve done too much writing in one day. Allow yourself to rest and then get back to work.

As writers, we want to meet deadlines and do as much as we can with the time we have. If you are like me, it is extremely difficult to manage our work along with the other responsibilities life throws our way. I am a full-time graduate student, who is engaged, has 3 dogs, trying to study for my licensure exams to become a teacher, among so many other responsibilities. Stress seems to come easy, but I am trying to work on my time management a bit more.

This was a relatively short post, but these are the ways I usually overcome that hump when I feel like I have run out of ideas and can no longer write. You would be surprised with what you could come up with when you give yourself a break. Step away from that computer. Do not pressure yourself so much to get the writing done all in one shot.

I would love to know how you all overcome writer’s block!

As always, if you use any of these tips, feel free to share with me by commenting below, email me: msdakotawrites@gmail.com, or tweet me @msdakotawrites on twitter.

Until next time,

Dakota 🙂

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Public Speaking Skills You Need When Presenting Your Work to An Audience

Hey everyone! I am super excited to publish this type of post. I wanted to highlight something different for this Monday afternoon–public speaking skills in relation to presenting your work to an audience. I have never queried before, but perhaps some of these tips could help you when trying to “sell” your work to someone, convincing them why they should represent you and give your work a chance.

My freshman year of college I took a speech communications course and I do not regret that decision. As most college students, I did not know what I wanted to major in. Therefore, my first year consisted of taking a bunch of liberal arts classes until I figured out what I wanted to do.

My speech professor highlighted essential skills one would need not only for public speaking, but for life in general. I know public speaking is feared by many people, but this skill is extremely crucial in the work field. Whether you are an employee or a boss chances are you are going to speak in front of an audience at one point or another. Now for me I can honestly say I do not fear speaking in public. I may have pre-speech jitters and butterflies in my stomach, but as soon as I begin speaking, I am locked in.

In this blog post, I highlight some tips that I think are necessary when speaking to an audience. I have been present for so many speeches before. Some were astounding, others not so much.

Let us begin with the first step which is—engaging your audience with what you are about to present, that moment where you either make or break it, will determine if the audience chooses to listen. Not only is it frightening as is with speaking in front of hundreds if not more people, but when you can see people speaking over you and not listening, this can be hurtful as well. Even if people are being rude, the speech still needs to get done. So, in this post I provide helpful pointers to get you over the hump of being fearful of public speaking.

The first recommendation I will make is: CAPTIVATE YOUR AUDIENCE. Keep in mind people will lose interest or become bored after a long period of time has passed. Keep your speech short and sweet.

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

What To Do Prior To Giving A Speech

  • OUTLINE your work. Ensure you cover all the talking points. I would recommend using bullet points with the main idea and include 2-3 sentences to describe those main points.
  • My professor would tell us stories about some disasters she witnessed when people used flashcards when giving their speech. She spoke to us one class about a work conference she had gone to. The CEO of the company had to give a speech. Unfortunately, during the speech the flashcards had fallen on the floor and because he relied too heavily on the flashcards, they fell out of order, and he did not know where he left off or how to continue. Therefore, I say when you are about to give a speech, type out your words. Also—be prepared to improvise. You could prepare your speech word for word, but you must anticipate distractions or other things that may put a dent in your plan.
  • When typing out your speech, I would recommend making it double spaced and using a simple and easy to read font.

What To Do During Your Speech

  • ESTABLISH YOUR PRESENCE in front of all those people. Body language also plays a key role while speaking in public. Stand tall, shoulders back, and do not slouch.
  • EYE CONTACT is so incredibly important I cannot stress this enough. Make sure you are engaging with your audience by keeping them involved. Your speech should be like having a normal conversation with your friend.
  • DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT read directly, word for word from your paper. This is such a turn-off for many people. It is boring, uninteresting, and mundane to say the very least.
  • SPEAK LOUDLY. Do not use a hushed tone or speak down into the paper. Speak OUT, as my professor would say. When you raise your head instead of looking down, your voice then projects out into the audience.
  • PACE YOURSELF. Do not rush. But also, do not speak too slowly. This is something people must establish on their own—is finding their pace.
  • When I am giving a speech or speaking to a large crowd of people, I like to ask questions in the beginning to engage my audience almost immediately. Ask them a question or two which is related to the content you are going to be speaking about. If you are not going to begin with questions, I would then recommend using a catchy opening line.
  • SHORT AND SWEET. This is also crucial to consider. It is quite simple to make a speech longer than it needs to be. But, quality over quantity is what people should consider. As long as you can get your point across in one page or less, you can have more of an impact, rather than reading a 10-page speech others will not engage completely with.
  • Do not ramble. Cover the main points. People will become uninterested if they cannot relate to or engage with the content being covered.
Photo by ICSA on Pexels.com

What To Do As Your Speech Nears The End

  • SUMMARIZE the main points you covered to refresh the memory of the audience. Depending on the length of your speech, they could have easily forgotten point #1 as you just finished covering point #10.
  • You need to go out with a bang. Make your audience remember you. The closing line can really influence how your audience views your content. You want a powerful ending to your speech which either leaves your audience wanting more, asking questions, or just thinking about the content in general.
  • Take the time to ASK QUESTIONS at the end. Allow your audience to really engage with you by allowing them to either provide comments/feedback, etc. This allows your audience to believe you care about what they have to say as well.

Public speaking should not be something to fear. We learn as we go. Each time you give a speech, you will take away with you something you could improve on. If you think about it, we are all ‘public speakers.’ We speak to our family in the living room, we talk to our significant others about how much writing we did in one day, or we converse with our parents about life. If you think about giving a speech as just speaking normally to a family member or friend, you will do just fine.

As always, I hope this post can help at least one person. If you use any of these tips, feel free to tell me about your experience. You can comment on this post, email me: msdakotawrites@gmail.com, or tweet me @msdakotawrites on twitter. I would love to hear about your experiences.

Warmly,

Dakota 😊

The 7 Tools You Need To Overcome The Fear Of Writing Non-Fiction

Hey there! Glad you guys are here. This post is one I thoroughly enjoyed writing. Hope you guys enjoy!

Whenever I ask other writers what genre they prefer when given the choice between fiction and non-fiction, they always seem to choose fiction, without hesitation. I wonder why this is. The realm of fiction allows one to explore their imagination and create a world much different than reality. Writers who write fiction look forward to forming these creations which could be described as ‘escaping the mundane realities of the world we live in,’ at least how I like to describe it.

I love both fiction & non-fiction, but I always preferred non-fiction. My love for non-fiction really began when I took a non-fiction workshop during undergrad. The entire semester we studied how to write in this genre and we edited a piece we would present on the final day of class. When I read my piece to the class, I could see the power my words had. I do not recall what exactly I wrote about, but I received applause by both my professor and the other students. That is when I really began writing more pieces about my life and experiences.

Now you must be thinking why someone would want to read about the life or experiences of another if they are not a well-known author or celebrity and even then, the material may be uninteresting or boring. If you look at my blog, you will quickly realize that most of the pieces I have submitted are creative non-fiction. Here is why. I have dealt with certain traumas in my life and writing about them allows me to heal, to forgive, and to find peace. When I write non-fiction, I enjoy bringing light to issues people may not necessarily think of.

I wanted to give you all the inside scoop on how to tackle this genre without fear. Buckle up because you are in for an interesting ride.

Writers tend to think unless they have dealt with a severe trauma or have an experience others would want to read about, you have no reason to write in this genre. You are wrong. It is like that saying, if you write, you are a writer. You do not need that stamp of approval from being published to claim you are a writer. Same applies for non-fiction. You can literally take any topic or experience from your life and create something worth reading. The thing that requires the most time for me is determining the topic and how I want to approach it. But once I have the topic, it is quite easy for me to begin writing. Below I will highlight some helpful tips to get you started.

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com
  • #1: Choose a topic to write about. When writing non-fiction, you have to write your story in such a way that even if the reader has the slightest doubt in their mind they would not relate to your work, you have to give them a reason to. Not to be cliché here but think of writing a piece about a horrible break-up you endured. This probably would not be something I would write, but I am merely using it as an example. This is a general topic an audience would gravitate to because 9 times out of 10, other people have endured this as well. You must evoke some sort of emotion and allow the reader to relate to you in some way, shape, or form.

  • #2: Next step I usually do is make list. I list everything associated with that topic. The main idea, how I felt, what I saw, what I heard, what I smelled, what I touched, who was involved, the outcome, so on and so forth.

  • #3: Next step once you have your topic picked out and your list made is to decide which perspective you want to tackle. Most of my pieces are told in 1st person which most people assume is what writing non-fiction entails. However, I like to experiment with other POV’s. For instance, I wrote a piece about an illness my cousin was diagnosed with. To properly tell the story, I interviewed several people to get all the information I needed. I interviewed my cousin, her mother, her father, her grandmother, and I included my POV. Each person told their part of the story. However, other pieces I have written have been stories about my life but told in 3rd person. ‘She felt this, she did that.,’ etc. Writing non-fiction should not mean rejecting certain aspects of writing. If anything, non-fiction can offer you the same amount of flexibility if you have the right tools.

  • #4: Writing a piece of non-fiction can also allow you the opportunity to fill in some blanks with a made-up scenario. So, going back to that break-up example. Let us say you wanted to write about your brother’s break-up with his girlfriend and how it led him down a rabbit hole. If he did not provide you with the information, you can do with this as you will. You knew the topic would be about the break-up and your brother’s depression. However, you could be creative by forming your own reasoning for their separation by filling in the blanks of what you think happened. I read an article once in my ‘how to write non-fiction,’ course textbook from college. A professor had written about the same things I am currently writing about. He said, you are not always going to have the facts or information you need for each aspect of your work. This is when you take the information you do have and put your own spin on it.

  • #5: Non-fiction requires lots of ‘show don’t tell.’ It is quite simple for writers to get wrapped up in a description of how the character felt. However, these are the opportunities when writers must really allow readers to put themselves in the main character’s shoes. ‘Show’ them what happened on that day your dad finally left the house and your mom struggled to make ends meet. ‘Show’ them the look on your grandmother’s face as she laid in the hospital bed clinging to her last breath. You get the idea. I do not want to get too depressing here.

  • #6: As I mentioned previously, evoking emotion is the most important thing you can do. Whether you are aiming to make your readers understand your pain, or your happiness, or the overwhelming feeling you encountered when you took a full course load of college classes, emotion is the driving force for this genre, in my opinion.  

  • #7: I believe writing non-fiction is like layering a sandwich. Now hold on. You probably think I sound crazy but hear me out. The first slice of bread is your opening, your one shot at drawing in the readers. I have asked several writers and most of the responses were the same. “I don’t like reading non-fiction because I don’t enjoy reading about someone else’s experiences.” My first response to that would be, if you are a true writer, you read when you are not writing, and you read anything and everything to learn as much as you can. I think to improve in writing fiction, one should also read non-fiction. The middle of the piece is the most important, layering on the ham and cheese, etc. This is the core of the piece when readers want to know what the MC endured and why, etc. That last slice of bread seals the deal. You want to close out the piece leaving the readers either wanting more or scratching their heads asking questions. I am that type of writer who will draw you in with a great opening and leave you unstable with the last line I write. I want to make sure my readers know what I am feeling. This is my strategy.

Writers tend to think non-fiction is daunting and they do not enjoy it. But I believe if writers took the chance to understand what it takes to write in this genre, if you’re just willing to put in the time and give it a chance, you can learn to enjoy writing it.

There is not much to it. This is my process and I hope this post really sheds some light on how overlooked this genre is. If I can inspire more writers to consider writing in this genre, I will feel extremely accomplished.

As always, feel free to comment on this post, email me: msdakotawrites@gmail.com, or tweet me @msdakotawrites on twitter. I always love to hear how this post has helped you or any other feedback you wish to provide.

Until next time,

Dakota 😊

The “How To” On Choosing Titles For Your Work In 5 Simple Steps

Hey everyone! We are back with a post which was voted for in a poll I ran on twitter. This time I will tackle the question of how to choose titles for your work. Now before I begin, I just want to mention I am no expert in this arena. I have my own strategies which work for me. However, I wanted to write a brief post on my strategies and how I come to a final decision on how to choose a title.

There are two different types of writers. You have those who have their titles already picked out & ready to go even before writing. On the other hand, you have writers like me, who write and then decide on a title at the end. This will be a relatively short post with certain tips I recommend for you, the reader.

  1. First and foremost, in my opinion, I like those short, to the point, ‘punch you right in the gut’ type of headlines. I tend to gravitate towards these. I prefer them to be completely honest. When a book or story title is too long or is an entire sentence, this tends to turn me off completely. Not saying you should judge a book by the cover. There are really amazing pieces of work out there. This is just my opinion.
  2. You want an attention grabbing title. Something that does not give too much away, leaving readers wanting to know more, but you provide just enough for readers to know what they are getting themselves into.
  3. Expanding off of #2, I like to use action words in my titles or words which will immediately spark the emotion of the reader. Depending on what type of post I’m writing, some titles could be longer than others. Overall I try to maintain 5 words maximum. No more than that.
  4. Other times I like to have one worded titles. For instance, if I’m writing a poem, I normally use one word which highlights the topic.
  5. If you are like me and you choose titles after you finish writing a piece of work, I like to choose main points from the piece. I make a list of them. I usually list key words, highlights, concepts related to the plot/climax, or something related to the resolution of the story. Making this list really helps me to choose a jaw dropping title.

There’s not much to my process. These are the steps I use and they really work, at least for me. Everyone has a different process, but I really hope these tips can assist you when you’re choosing titles for your work.

As always feel free to comment, email with with feedback: msdakotawrites@gmail.com, or feel free to tweet me @msdakotawrites on twitter. I am always looking to connect with other creatives, and I always welcome feedback which allows us to exchange ideas.

Until next time,

Dakota 🙂

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Proper Blog Etiquette Explained With 11 ‘Must Know’ Tips To Appeal To Your Viewers

Hey there! You guys asked and I responded. This topic was highly requested in previous tweets of mine I posted a few days back. I figured why not? When I first made a blog, it was not exactly what I wanted or looked how I wanted it to. I’m still editing and learning as I go. I feel like there is always something that could be changed. I do not know everything there is to know about blogs, but hey, I do what works for me. The following are some tips I recommend for you if you a) either want to make a blog, or b) already have one, but want to know how to give it that extra kick.

  1. First and foremost, when I made my blog I knew immediately I wanted to incorporate the two sides of myself which are: my teaching personality and my writing side. Therefore, I went with, ‘Words By Ms. Dakota.’ My point here is, come up with a name which represents you in one line and tells viewers a little about you and your content. Last thing you want is a title/headline which does not tell readers what they will be reading. Keep it simple. Do not make it too long. If you go by your first and last name, that works. But also make it interesting. You want to pull readers in. Usually the title or headline of something is what either pulls me in or deters me from reading at all. This is just my personal opinion. Everyone is different.

2. Once you have your headline picked and ready to go, find your niche. A certain topic you will be writing about. Ex: if you write poetry only, make that known. If you are a multi-genre writer like me, you can include more than one genre on your blog. I write creative non-fiction mostly, fiction short stories, and poetry when I feel extremely inspired. I have all of those categories individually listed which makes it easier for readers to navigate. I did not intend to publish writing tips to my blog at first. My sole purpose with this blog was to share my writing. However, as I connected with more writers and bloggers, I quickly learned that people are asking the same questions: how can I make my homepage stand out? Or what should I include in my about me page? That is when I decided to add the thoughts/writing tips section of my blog. For those who do not know, I have my BA in English literature & creative writing. I want to be able to take my knowledge/experience and share it with others.

3. Next aspect I would say is most important is your layout. You want to choose something that can be easily navigated and is also visually appealing to the eye. In my personal experience, if I come across a blog or website which has too much content on one page and their feed is very unorganized or too cluttered, chances are I will not read it. You want to keep your audience engaged. I think of it like this, when an employer reads a resume, they read it in about 30 seconds or so especially if there are thousands of applications. You want to be short & sweet, to the point, and make yourself stand out. There is a common misconception where people think more content is better. However, I disagree. It’s more about quality over quantity. Going back to the analogy of a resume, even if you only held 3 jobs in your entire life, add enough description which shows your work ethic which would make the employer say, wow, he/she only had these 3 jobs, but I can see they have an assortment of skills and they’re hardworking. Same goes for a blog. Sometimes less is more. So when creating a home page, make it simple. Include a short description about what your blog is about.

4. To expand from #3, there are two options when choosing which way you wish to organize your blog. I personally chose to include a home page to give readers a little more insight into my world. However, you can go a different route entirely. Some blogs I have followed choose to not include a home page and once you click their link, you are immediately thrown into their content. There are pros and cons to each. Some might say a home page is necessary because they want to know who you are, why your content is important, and why they should read it. However, others might say well, a homepage is unnecessary if you have an about page. I want to see your content almost immediately. It is entirely your preference on what you do here.

5. Similar to the homepage description I just provided, I personally recommend you choose warm & inviting colors when creating or editing your blog. You definitely want to steer clear of using dark colors like black or brown and neon colors like bright green or yellow. I use a light peach color for my blog and I absolutely love it. I’ve seen other bloggers use light pink, light purple, a subtle mint green, etc. Whatever works best for you. Your blog means YOUR preference.

Photo by Andrea Davis on Pexels.com

6. Now to move on to your ‘about me’ page if you decide to include one. I highly recommend you do. I always found that you grow a following when people feel like they can relate to you. Aside from my writing content, I’ve had people follow me just because we had things in common like having dogs, or they grew up in the same state as me, etc. Here is what I recommend for your about page. Once again, keep it short and simple. You do not want your readers to read your full biography. I would choose 10 details about yourself, but I would not go over 10. If you want to be more organized, write them in bullet form which also saves your readers time. Try and think of details they would want to know about you like where you grew up, what university you attended, what type of degree you have, etc. Some people even go to the extreme with including facts like their favorite cheese or their favorite movie they could watch countless times. It all depends on YOU and what you wish to share. I also recommend sharing a professional photo of yourself. I chose a photo of me drinking coffee, because hey, that is the core of who I am.

7. Include photos when you can. Now I’m not saying to post pictures every chance you get. What I mean here is, include cover photos to your posts. If you just throw a headline out there with no image, chances are I will not click on it. Lots of people are visual learners. I know I am. I want to see a photo that describes what I am about to read.

8. SOCIAL MEDIA. If you make a blog and you have no social accounts, this is something to consider. This way you drive traffic to your site. There are a variety of options. Facebook is geared towards an older crowd. It’s 50/50, a hit or miss with Facebook, in my opinion. Twitter is the best platform by far in my experience. I have easily connected with other creatives, exchanged and discussed ideas, and it definitely boosts my traffic. Instagram I do not use, but I have heard great things about it. If you wish to share your content in pictures, this platform is for you. However, if you wish to share you content with words, I would recommend Twitter. I’m still fairly new to the Pinterest scene. I have about 50 followers, but I turned my personal account into a business account which was definitely the way to go. If you do not know what I mean here, there are YouTube videos explaining how to do this. LinkedIn is the most professional platform I use. I utilize this platform more for job searches, but I began sharing my writing there as well. This is also an amazing platform to connect with editors/publishers, the works! However, one thing I will say is this. There are so many social platforms you can use. But if you try to tackle them all at once, you will quickly become overwhelmed. Choose 2 or 3 to put your undivided attention into and grow that way. For instance, I mostly use Twitter, Facebook, & Pinterest. LinkedIn is here and there.

9. You always want to include a form of contact whether it’s an email or your social accounts. Include a follow button so other users can easily follow you. Make the follow button visible. Place it somewhere at the top of your blog so they can immediately click it. If it is hard to find, you are doing your viewers a disservice.

10. I highly recommend providing a subscribe option for non-blog users. Your contact page should have an option where they can provide their name and email where they can receive posts directly to their inbox. Make that visible to your viewers right away so they can subscribe if they enjoy your content.

11. Always respond to your comments/messages/ & subscribers. You want to remind them you are grateful and appreciative they are engaging with your content. Whichever platform you use whether it is WordPress or Blog Spot, etc., ensure you have your comment option enabled. Lastly, make sure your blog is connected to your social accounts so each time you post, it is also shared elsewhere resulting in more traffic!

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. All of these opinions are my own and what I found have worked for me. However, I encourage you to find what works for YOU. I hope you all enjoyed and learned a thing or 2. I am always open to assisting other writers/bloggers with whatever questions they may have. Feel free to email me or tweet me at: @msdakotawrites with feedback and/or comments!

Warmly,

Dakota 🙂