Monday, January 28, 2013

Life Hack 2013: Social Media Networking Strategy Development

I'm ready to get down to writing!
For those of you who have been following along, many thanks!  My little social media marketing experiment has yielded a few insights into what can really work for me.

First, let me explain the constraints under which any strategy must function:

My fledglings have
flown the coop!
  1. I have a job outside the home--a full time job--and spend two hours on the road each day commuting.  I know this is not ideal, but it's the price I must pay, for now, for living on the farm.
  2. I am active in my church.
  3. I have an actual family--albeit my little fledglings have established nests of their own (without grandchildren)--and the Resident Dragon is an absolute jewel.
  4. The demands of the garden are endless and cannot be ignored.
  5. My real goal in all of this is for me to write, and for the Resident Dragon to make and sell his jewelry both at shows and through our Etsy shop.

So, the gleanings from my experiment are:

Craft and art fairs are fun!
  • Facebook does nothing for me, at least until I have more than 8 followers.  No, I did not spam my address book to develop followers; I just could not do it.
  • In-post linking is not a strategy; it may be helpful for your readers, but do not count on building readership from the links.
  • BlogHer has not worked well for me yet, but I haven't really worked it.  Because my posts are spread among three blogs, I'm not sure I really qualify for their frequency requirements.
  • SEO is not a complete strategy for the beginning blogger.  It has helped and is worth some time, but, unless you hit a really hot niche, you'll be languishing on Search Results page 3,857.
  • SITSGirls is a good resource, although you sometimes have to hunt around for your topic.
  • Angie Nelson's Work at Home Wife has very good information--especially for WordPress bloggers.
  • is my major source of hits.  Thanks, Mary Jane and all of the Farmgirl Sisterhood!
  • Twitter and Pinterest have been the best development tool so far, by far.
  • New posts drive new traffic.

Looking ahead . . .

I've been thinking about this all week and have come up with a plan:

  1. Post once a week to each of my blogs and spread the post dates throughout the week.
  2. Tweet each post (and each new jewelry item) with appropriate hashtags and mentions.
  3. Participate in blog parties like SITSSharefest and writing memes like Five Minute Friday.
  4. Convert my personal Pinterest board to a business board and let my daughter, the absolute queen of Pinterest, manage it!
  5. Pay attention to my stats and target interest groups.
  6. Re-evaluate my brand Live a Savory Life.
  7. Write!
Developing the roots
of a good brand
is hard work!
So, that's the plan.

It's been an intense few weeks, and I really need to finish the organic gardening course I've been taking online.  Hopefully, the plan will allow me to do all the things I want to do, without one pushing aside any others.  My last task, re-evaluating my brand will be challenging and may require input from you, too.

Well, the dog is awake, and the cat is awake, which means the Resident Dragon will not be far behind.

Until we read again, how are you living your Savory life?


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Life Hack: Take Time Out to Relax

Iced wisteria
Last Saturday was very warm for January--75 degrees--but, by Monday, the temperatures had dropped into the twenties.  On Tuesday, the media bleated out a Winter Weather Advisory, supplanted by an ice storm warning.  Schools sent students home, churches and civic organizations cancelled evening activities, and businesses closed.

As is usual around here, the roads were not as icy as expected, although there was a nice coating of ice on everything else.  Wednesday was supposed to be warmer and sunny, but the clouds prevailed, and, with nighttime temperatures dipping, rural roads refroze and Wednesday evening activities were cancelled, too.

It's Friday evening, after a warmish sunny day, and I am at home again.  In fact, this is my fifth straight evening at home.  It's wonderful.

The Holly and the Ice
I had not realized how much I just needed some evenings at home.  I've not really done anything these evenings--the housework remains undone, for example--but I have managed to just stop and breathe.  For the first time in a long while, the iron vise around my forehead is loosening; that knot in the small of my back is unraveling.


As much as I am committed to serving my community, I cannot do that as well as I expect if I do not take care of myself.  Since I am an extreme introvert, that means planning adequate time for myself.  I need it.  I will burn out without it.  I now give myself permission to do it.

That means I will need to either refuse some requests (like I would refuse any . . .), or find more efficient ways to accommodate them.  From home, if at all possible.

While I've been home . . .

Flowering quince
Lest you think I've been relaxing in the recliner noshing on bon-bons while watching "reality" television,   I've also been continuing on last week's quest to improve blog traffic.  You can now follow the Savory family of blogs on Twitter , or Facebook or Pinterest.

So, how did last week's link-laden post affect site traffic?  It may have caused a tiny uptick, but Twitter and Pinterest seem to drive more hits.  The quest continues . . .

And so I write on, shouting into the F5 tornado that is the Internet, trusting that you are reading.

Thank you so much.

How are you living your Savory life?


Friday, January 11, 2013

Life Hack: Learning How to Drive Traffic to My Site By Linking to More Popular Sites

What makes a blog stand out?
Sometimes writing a blog feels like shouting into an F5 tornado:  can anyone hear my voice over the roar of the other Internet writers?  I wonder.  So, I've embarked on a mission to increase my site traffic.  Admittedly, this is DYI project, for now, since I've not commissioned an SEO analysis.  I have been reading some high-traffic blogs and have noticed a few things:

Post Titles

Growing readers takes good writing, and much, much more!
One of the biggest things I've noticed about post titles on high-traffic blogs is that their post titles fall into two categories:  cute/snarky/bombastic or SEO-tailored.  Cute blog titles seem to appear on either the very high-traffic or very low-traffic sites.  The high-traffic sites have established readers and are not reliant on search engine hits to increase hits.  Sites trying to increase traffic seem to use longer titles which are loaded with phrases which rank highly in browser searches.  There are times when the titles bear little relevance to the articles which follow.  I'm following suit and testing out this post's title for the express purposes of increasing search engine hits.  Nearly every phrase in the title receives over one million searches per month.  Maybe that will help readers find their way to my site.

Gratuitous Linking in Post Content

Links just seem to pop up out of nowhere!
This is the blogging equivalent of name dropping.  I've noticed that bloggers like Penelope Trunk will refer to several other blog posts or online articles in the course of one article.  In her recent ramble about discarding dreams in favor of plans, Trunk found a way to connect to a humorous article that mentions Lindsay Lohan.  In the course of a month, there are 4 million searches world-wide for the term "Lindsay Lohan."  In the 700-ish word post, Trunk manages to insert links to two YouTube videos, two of her previous posts, two New York Times articles, an Amazon book listing, three commercial web sites, and an App on the iTunes store.  She does maintain some semblance of continuity, but the post seems a bit link-heavy.  I don't really have room to snark, however, since, I'm sure, her site has more hits in an hour than my sites have ever had.

My Strategy

There's a hornworm in there somewhere!
So, Constant Reader (to borrow a phrase from Stephen King), I'm trying out her strategy.  Normally, I would not link to sites like Mary Jane's Farm unless they were part of my post.  Nor would I mention the New York Times Bestsellers List except that Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals is currently in my briefcase.  I certainly won't promote a social media rating site like Klout until I really understand what it's all about.  In the interest of increasing traffic on my other sites, I also would not fail to direct you to my other blogs, Savory Le Jardin and Savory La Bouffeas well as my Etsy shop.

I am considering installing Instagram on my Android phone so I can share my pictures of clouds and tomato hornworms with my family and friends.  I may even start issuing Twitter updates about the exciting things that happen in my life:  new tenants in the toad house, killdeer eggs, beautiful sunrises.

I will share a YouTube video of the wonderfully talented dulcimer artist, Lee Cagle and refer you to a great Organic Transition Course from the Rodale Institute.  I will also point you to the witty and creative Chubby Vegetarian blog by Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence.  I will also let you know that Justin and Amy have a new cookbook coming out!  Do yourself a favor and pre-order The Southern Vegetarian.

So, that's the plan.  It's not like any of the writing advice I've read in Writer's Digest, but we'll see how it goes.  

What will it take to grab readers' attention?
What do you think?  Tell me below!


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Lifehacks for 2013: a To-do Organizer for an Android Phone Using Evernote

I'm taking steps to become more organized in 2013!
I am a card-carrying (actually diploma-certified) technogirl.  There.  I've said it, and I feel much better.  I get a little twinkle in my eye when reading about new technology, but I've been around long enough to keep that twinkle from blinding me to the genuine utility of the latest gadget.  I entrusted my personal and professional schedules to my Palm Treo for years.  The exceptional PDA functionality kept me loyal long after the phone was yesterday's technology.  It did exactly what I wanted:  allowed me to keep and display a prioritized, categorized, dated to-do list while showing the day's appointments, too.  It was the slickest system going.  But, the lure of the Android proved too powerful to resist and I retired my trusty Treo.  Much to my dismay, there seemed to be no Android task manager that did everything I needed.  The Google calendar functioned well enough, but the task feature was, well, awful.  So I looked around.

A good task management utility is a thing of beauty!
I tried and discarded many task managers before settling on Evernote.  Yes, I know that Evernote is NOT a task manager, but that's how I use it.  It is web-based, but auto-syncs to an Android client, which is well-featured.

Now, there are a number of schemes for using Evernote like The Secret Weapon.  The Secret Weapon is a system of nested notebooks and tags that allow the user to mimic a digital version of David Allen's Getting Things Done task management system.  I liked the idea of the system and began setting up my Evernote account according to The Secret Weapon's instructions.  After a long evening of setting up notebooks, then endless tags that allowed me to categorize each task according to when, where, what, and who, I was ready to go.

But, then I started entering tasks and realized that, while the system was endlessly detailed and allowed me to sort my tasks in myriad ways, The Secret Weapon system is endlessly detailed.  Each entry required at least 5 tags after entry.  Sigh.  There has to be an easier way.

And there is--at least for me.

Keeping the blog schedule
straight is a challenge!
So, I've created notebooks for each of the domains of my life:  church, business, farm, work, and personal.  Some of the notebooks have sub-notebooks.  When I enter a task, the title of the task begins with the day it's due and the actual short name follows:

20130106       Update Savory Biblio blog

Write blog entry about Bill Mauldin's Army and post.

There are many tasks on the farm!
This entry would go in the Business notebook.  Any other tasks are entered in the same fashion and stored in the appropriate notebook.  To view all of my tasks for the day, I select to view All Notebooks and sort by Title.  Because of the configuration of the date, the tasks are sorted by due date.

When the task is completed, I put an X at the beginning of the title and it re-sorts down to the bottom.  Voila!

It's simple, it's easy to manage.  And, so far, it's working.  So, I'm happier with my Android phone and with my task management scheme.  I hope it will help me keep my tasks in line in the coming year.  Perhaps it could help you, too.

So, how are you organizing your Savory life?