Start-up Guide for Online Writers – course review

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Kate Motaung sent an email out to students who have taken this course, Start-up Guide for Online Writers.  Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 20, 2017, the price of this course goes up to $29.99.  However, it’s still on sale today for $19.99.  If you are considering investing in your writing self, this is a good day to take the plunge and make a commitment to YOU. Nothing good happens without commitment. Right?

Here’s the link from Kate’s email. https://learning.fistbumpmedia.com/course/startup-guide-online-writers/?ref=3 

If you miss the deadline, it’s OK. The resources you will find in this course are valuable even at the higher price.

 

Giant strides learning comes from small pervasive steps …

A few weeks ago, I was invited into a learning experience shared with fellow writers whose audience is virtual. In today’s environment it’s common to refer to the virtual meeting via satellite or virtual classroom via an online learning management system. When I think of writing articles or books for a virtual audience it seems so mysterious and unconventional. So I was eager to join this group and immerse myself in learning from Kate Motaung, seasoned, professional author and founder of 5-minute Friday, an online community that supports writers improving their craft.

This course is an excellent value. Based on the education provided for writers in general and because there were so many resources, I found this course to be remarkable for seasoned writers as well as those who are just getting started. First, I thought it helpful that Kate Motaung understood that some enrollees in the course might be new to online courses. The very first lesson was all about becoming acclimated to taking an online course. The remaining Units of the course continued to provide a broad spectrum of information every writer of online content needs to know.

I appreciated the practical advice about having a website and the impact your email list has on your blog or business. I remember that even in the decades before email, it was the mail list that was scrupulously maintained because it ranked high in getting noticed. Let me tell you, having done both, maintaining an email list is easier.

One of the greatest benefits to me in taking this course was becoming familiar with different writing tools and supporting Apps. Here are just a few of the ones I have checked out and am now using or plan to purchase because of what I learned in this Start-up Guide for Online Writers. Evernote was a given, as I have used it for the last few years. I use Buffer to schedule social media posts and Canva to create the images. I am looking forward to using Scrivner which I have heard is like Word on steroids. I found out about so many other apps that helped either with creative thinking or actual writing, I must decide when I can work them into my schedule to try them. I expect them to be a great asset.  

The pitch to join the social media crowd was sound. If you are going to write for online audiences, you have to go where your audiences are. Kate advised us to get accounts at least on the major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Even if you don’t spend much time there, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ also open the playing field to readers of your articles and posts.

I found the writer’s tools in the Module, Get the Resources You Need, to be priceless. I learned about Link-ups for bloggers, which surprised me. I sometimes participate in Kate Motaung’s 5-Minute Friday Link-up and had no clue that it was this type of venue. Here’s what blew me away though. From her knowledge and experience, Kate Motaung listed many names, blogs, websites, and programs of professionals who have been doing this online writing for years. They have perfected their crafts and Kate included links to their blogs and publications. That Unit of the course is a goldmine for students of this course who want to seek mentors and coaches in the future. 

What I found in this course that added to its value were the lessons on things like podcasting, reading books to strengthen my craft as a writer, searching out other courses, and learning from experts. There was also a lesson all about affiliate marketing, what it is, how it works, and what to do if you want to try it out.

I realize this course was designed primarily for writers whose audiences are online, but so much of what I read was universal and could apply to writers of any venue. Writing articles and books for real-life paper and ink publication has so many parallels with writing for online audiences, I recommend this course for anyone who wants to write and create a platform to be noticed. The value of content-to-cost makes this a viable purchase with benefits for both the online writer and traditional writer. I wandered around on Amazon while taking this course and bought Kate Motaung’s e-book, Start-up Guide for Online Christian Writers, so I would have a Kindle version of this course available quickly when I wanted a reference to what I learned.

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Distractions! Let’s call them what they really are

How was your day yesterday? I know. Do we really have to bring up yesterday? Don’t we love the words in Philippians 3:13 “Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind”? I’m all about kicking yesterday to the curb and starting fresh every day but let me revisit yesterday so I don’t repeat it today. First – yesterday was a good day; nothing bad happened. Let’s just say it was an instructive day because God answered one of my long term prayers. You see, I have been asking God to reveal things in my own life that are getting in the way of my own life. Does that make sense? I’ve prayed so many times as it says in Psalm 139:23 ”Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”
Last Monday I spoke with a new friend on the phone. I mentioned then that God was convicting me of being unproductive and using my time unwisely. This isn’t a new thing. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a little slow on the uptake. As my dad used to say to me, “Janie sometimes I think God needs a bigger brick for you.” He was kidding but 50 years later, I think he was onto something there. Yesterday I had a run-in with that mammoth brick! You’ve heard about the new ‘reveal parties’ where the gender of an unborn baby is revealed? Well my reveal party with the Lord was not so exciting – but it was revealing. Early in the morning, I considered skipping Mom’s Prayer group at my church so I could dive head first into my work. God had something to say about that. “Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.” Colossians 4:2 Spending time in prayer for families is a reward, not a distraction. That started my day, my week, on the right path.

The rest of the day though, God kept pointing things out to me about where my heart is, what I treasure – the distractions I can’t avoid. If you’re laser focused, work on one thing at a time, and are not crippled by distractions, this will make no sense to you, but distractions are my enemy. I kept thinking about 1Peter 5:8 “Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour.” Seriously? Pretty revealing isn’t it? I took out my notebook and started writing things that came to my mind that were distracting me from what I should be doing. Email, my cell phone, community interactions through Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn – you see none of these distractions are bad. They aren’t in any way immoral or corrupt. In fact given the right priority, they have value and even have virtuous implications.

Yesterday afternoon, I realized that I have some pretty serious idols in my life. In the proper context and given the right priority, things that distract me have merit and add value, but when uncontrolled they become a distraction, a clanging symbol, a disruption – all time I can’t get back. My great reveal? I asked for it, and God confirmed “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them.” Psalm 11:4 I sat down right then an prayerfully, open hearted, asked the greatest advisor of all to help me work out a schedule for my day to keep me on track and focused on the right things, at the right time, for the right reasons.

The time of yesterday – of all my yesterdays – can’t be recovered, but I am comforted by the words of Solomon in Proverbs 3:11-12 “My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” I can go forward and not repeat the sins of the past. What can we do with the past anyway? Not one thing – except learn from it.  So today, you’ll love this. I woke up earlier than my natural waking time of 4:45 am and these words were repeating in my mind like a track that replayed over and over. My child, if sinners try to entice you, do not consent! Proverbs 1:10 I wasn’t sure why so I got up to start my day strong. The first thing I did? You guessed it. Checked email. And remember those online communities that collectively post over a hundred articles every day? These two titles were like a magnet and everything in me wanted to click, read, and respond.

  • Where to get the knowledge you need ….
  • Is fear holding you back ….

Wait a minute! What does it say here in Romans 8:6? The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.

I’m not biting! If I still want to read those articles, I will, but not until 10:00 am when it’s time to do exactly that. Choose to read and respond to 2 or 3 articles —- in the time allotted for those tasks.

Well, daddy, God used a bigger brick, and it’s likely He will have to use it again, but I am taking Proverbs 1:23 to heart and responding first to God, then to articles. “If only you will respond to my rebuke, then I will pour out my thoughts to you and I will make my words known to you.

Yesterday was disappointing, but it’s gone, over, no more. Today is new, a blank slate, an opportunity. What will you do with it?  Ready team? Let’s get out there!

The Truth About Investing

I miss blogging. There I said it. I don’t count my followers. I don’t analyze the geographic locations of my readers. I have the smallest degree of popularity.God has a purpose for you  I love that people sometimes read and comment on what I have to say, but what I really miss about blogging is spilling out the contents of my heart because it’s part of who I am. I met up with a friend yesterday whom I had not seen in over 2 years. She needed a guest to join her on her radio show, so I helped her out – then we spent the next 4 hours in eye level communication, soul sharing, revealing life as we have experienced it since 2012.  “I miss blogging,” I told her. And instantly felt her response. “Why do you feel like you can’t spend time doing something you really enjoy?” That’s it! The enigma uncovered, deciphered with a few well-placed words.

Spending time. Or investing time? Is it just me, or does spending seem different from investing?

Investing is paying into something, expecting a profit in return. Investing is more purposeful, intentional, a personal commitment with promise of reward. Investing builds. Investing creates. Investing is discernment – applied to time, that means making choices which have discernible benefits.

Spending is often frivolous, impetuous, and done without thinking. The damage done by a mindless spending spree can be financially devastating. Spending money or spending time, expends energy and depletes resources without regard to replenishing. I’m a little slow on the uptake and sometimes God has to grab ahold of my head and point my face in the right direction. I couldn’t sleep all night so I started praying then I started web surfing and that always brings me to BibleGateway.com.  I read 1Peter 4:10 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”  I may not be a gifted writer, but God has given me a love for writing and that is the gift. It’s OK to invest time in writing; in fact God says each of us should use whatever gift we have. Why do I tell myself blogging is spending time frivolously? God says I’m not spending my time, I’m investing it. He gave me the love of writing. It’s a gift.

This tiny lesson was a revelation in other ways too. In January, I decided to join the one-word-to-live-by club. I call it a club because it was hot for a few weeks and, well, it’s a club that evaporated quickly like 3 week old resolutions. Take a trip over to Twitter and look for hashtag #word365 . . . Point proven.  My word though, which I adopted and still invest in is ‘discernment’.  What should I be doing right now invades my thoughts so often I recognize that I am spending too much time deciding and too little time investing in what I should be doing right then. Things like organizing only to reorganize.  Reading too many books simultaneously leads to spending time, instead of investing quality time in one or two books.  Spending countless hours online reading and following blogs to learn from the masters and absorb their knowledge. All GOOD, but am I intentional and investing wisely?  I see some flaws in my investment strategy.

Whether spending or investing, being human automatically qualifies us to experience disillusionment with our choices. Humans are the only species with cognitive abilities and minds capable of reason. We are practically licensed to feel exhausted from the myriad of choices we must make! Here’s a little hope for those overwhelming responsibilities. Bring on Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

God comes along and promises that our efforts will be rewarded if we invest our time wisely. We might have to be stubborn toward our wandering minds to be staunchly disciplined in constructing our days.  And those of us who are certain we’ve been touched with ADD need a significantly stronger behavior pattern to assure we are investing in our gifts that will reap rewards. 2 Chronicle 15:7 says “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”

How about you? Are you spending or investing time for a profitable outcome?  Deciding what to do with the hours in our day is like a roller coaster running inside a maze. Sometimes couldn’t we yell, “Stop the world and let me off. Just for a little while.”?  Instead God gives us gifts that bring us pleasure and he says, use them. Spending/Investing. Make wise choices.  Isaiah 65:22 comforts us when God says, “For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.”

Treat yourself to joy today!

Changed – Becoming who I was meant to be.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk1bstD4nY8

Google Doesn’t Know Everything

Good workI received this comment on my blog:  I see a lot of interesting posts on your website.  You have to spend a lot of time writing.  I know how to save you a lot of work. There is a tool that creates unique, google friendly articles in a couple of minutes.  Just type in google ….  And it came from someone calling themselves ‘Chairman’.

I don’t know this person’s angle and surely they don’t know me. All of you experienced bloggers out there are going to say, it’s spam, just delete it.  Of course it’s spam and it’s already deleted, but that’s not my point.  There’s a lesson here.  There are good reasons to reject assistance and invite compromise. What do you think?

Let’s put this idea into the perspective of being authentically who we are, engaging in activities we enjoy, working in a vocation we love, and relentlessly practicing our craft, while learning from the experience.  In our quest to develop expertise and strengthen our affinity for knowing what we were born to do, we cultivate the cycle where our interests match our skills, match our abilities, match our responsibilities, match our aspirations, mastermind our vision, and through rigid determination create inspiration to press on, keep learning, keep striving, and never giving up.  There is no free pass to carry us without effort into becoming the authentic person we were meant to be.  Listen in while I explain all that to Chairman.

Dear Chairman,

Thank you for your interest in the content you found on my website.  We agree on one thing. Every word written was by my hand, from my thoughts, and with a fair amount of effort. Yes, I spend a lot of time writing and it does take a lot of time.  But Chairman, for me to stop writing is to stop breathing. I have never sold even one paragraph of my writing. You see, I don’t blog for income; I blog because I love it.  It’s a simple exercise that grows my writing skill and allows me to encourage readers by conveying comfort, motivation, and joy for their day through the way words are strung together.

Letting Google create my articles robs me of the opportunity to learn by doing.  Google doesn’t know my heart and can’t empathetically impart concern for a hurting soul or confused person struggling through discouraging circumstances.  Google is a goldmine for information seekers and I don’t doubt the power of your suggested resource, but Google can never replace the sentiment of a sincere message from my heart.

I don’t mean to sound disrespectful, but Chairman, to follow your suggestion cheats me of the opportunities to be creative, increase my value as a writer, multiply my capacity, and expand my proficiencies, and sharpen my aptitude.  When I’m not writing I feel my talent diminishing and competence evaporating.

You’ve expressed concern that I am working too hard.  I love writing so much, it is not work at all.

Wishing you a day blessed with authentic joy, and work that doesn’t seem like work.

 

 

 

 

The gift of social media

I was talking with friends at dinner last night thinking how blessed we are to have friendships. Gathered around the table were friends who have shared the menagerie of life for over 20 years and others who merged transparently into our homogenous community of mostly retired motorcycle riders.  We talk, we laugh, we eat dinner, we talk, we laugh, we depart to meet again next week.  Some would ask if we don’t get tired of meeting every week or how do we keep other things from interfering.  Answer: No we don’t get tired of sharing Monday nights with friends and sometimes things do interfere and Plan A has to acquiesce to Plan B.

Recently I was reading Ecclesiates – you know where in verses 8-10 the writer brings in the truth about how life can sometimes get pretty mundane.  “All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.  Is there anything of which one can say,  “Look! This is something new”?”  There’s an old Country Western song that somberly talks about the same thing … “Life gets tedious, don’t it.”  I don’t remember the tune – in fact I don’t think there was a tune, but life gets tedious, don’t it?

Yesterday an organization posted on Facebook “Are Facebook friends really friends?” You can answer for yourself, but this is my take on that question. Just as there are very casual acquaintances, familiar friendships, and deep soul mate friendships, so are there levels of friendships through social media. Hundreds of years ago when families started scattering instead of staying in their home town forever, we had the pony express, then the U.S. Mail, then the telegraph, then the telephone — the links between friendships; communications bonding relationships.  Social media is a gift. This is the new way we stay in touch with people we love. It works!

When God created the heavens and the earth, when he created people in his image, he knew that we would be disbursed across continents. God knew that we would crave the relationships we shared with friends from our past and friends who live next door.  A lot goes on in social media that does not please God, true. The Internet can be a place of destruction to relationships.  But as with anything else, if there is good that can come out of it, capitalize on that good thing.

Is there someone you can encourage today using email, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, your own blog?  Social media is a tool and what are tools for?  To help us do things better and more effectively.  Tools are used to lift.  Tools are used to smooth things out. Tools are used to tear down the old and replace it with new.  What’s in your tool box today?  What can you use to clear a path and begin a new construction project to build someone up in their faith, encourage them on their journey, love them back to a peaceful life?

Some encouragement from Philippians 2 “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, any tenderness and compassion,  make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing…Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain ….then in faith, I will be glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

Ready for this day?  Get your joy on.  Let’s get out there!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhDrzTQ5rn0

The Metamorphosis of Intent

Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”  This verse was quoted in Sunday School yesterday by our teacher Clarke Holtzberry. I woke up this morning with this thought. Share it! And here’s the rest of the story.

I’m on vacation this week, so my schedule is going to be a little ‘off’ I already know that.  Sometimes off is good – but I must admit that there are unparalleled proficiencies in routine, in schedules, in predictability.  Going to work every day is one accomplishment.  I’m planning on a productive week but I predict that everything on my list of things to accomplish this week will quickly dissolve  if I spend as much time writing and playing as I prefer.  Still I want to say good morning – so here is something I’ve been planning to do for a while.   Long after I started posting good morning messages on Facebook, I started a blog.  http://talkkindnesstome.com It had one intent. Here’s the story on where the blog got its start.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the incidents of bullying and the ravages of cruelty in person and online.  I joined an online writing group through LinkedIn and within a few days, I witnessed extreme bashing and hurtful dialog between two members of the group.  I’m sure they didn’t know each other on a personal level.  One of the men asked for help with his grammar and was seeking resources.  The other man jumped all over him with a vengeance for using the wrong link in the group to ask his question.  I was appalled and I hurt for the man being bullied for no reason.  I also decided that even if the group had all the potential of valuable leads and support, I didn’t want to be associated with it.

This blog is intended to spread kindness – support, graciousness, and a kind word.  That’s all you will find here. If that doesn’t interest you, I invite you to seek another blog more in tune with what you’d rather read.  The intent of this blog is cement: Talk Kindness To Me

As with everything else, intent in the beginning can sometimes morph into something quite different. I don’t remember when I started combining the blog with my Facebook Good Morning message. That’s not important.  I don’t know who reads or how many. Whether you read the blog directly,  receive it in email, get to it through Twitter, or simply read it on Facebook – Thank you for reading.

The changes from the original intent and the current form are subtle. Somewhere along the line I realized that the scripture I woke up with in head was the basis for what I was writing that day, so share it. That’s the metamorphosis of Talk Kindness To Me – the way I began to share not just the words that came from my head, but also the spiritual encouragement God placed on my heart that day.

I have a folder of topics to write about in the future. I love to pick a theme and just write about that. I love doing that same thing at work – find topics that needs to be documented and write!  Writing does not feel like work to me. I know. Crazee – but now you know. All those topics are waiting for the time when God says, “Today. This is the day to write about  ‘that’. “  If you’ve read this far, now you know the rest of the story.  Let’s end with this comforting scripture from Lamentation 3:22-25 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.”

 

Reading, Writing, and that’s about it …

About forty years ago a friend and I were engrossed in conversation and the topic of books came up. Being a voracious reader, I started rattling off all the books I’d been reading and all the ones stacked up that I planned to read and she floored me with one statement. “I only read the Bible.” What?!?! How can you only read the Bible? How will you learn anything?  At the time, I was a stay at home mom, with ambitions to read as many books as I could and learn as much as possible so I could make a difference. I rarely read a novel because they wouldn’t make me smarter.  Of course, I was wrong about that.  I’ve since concluded that well-researched novels, can certainly add knowledge to what I know.

At the time, I remember I was reading books like ‘Lord, Change Me’ – it didn’t change me.  I was reading ‘How to Talk With Practically Anyone About Practically Anything’.  Hmmm…..I still don’t work a crowd like a marketing pro – it didn’t change me.  I read ‘The Power of a Praying Wife’ – I didn’t practice it. I read ‘How to Win Friends and Influence Others’ – I have a lot of friends, but I didn’t win them because I followed the formula in that book.  Through the years I have read hundreds of books – some authentically valuable. Many of them gave me survival tips that helped me through some complicated situations.

To be effective, I can’t just read and forget, I have to put wise words into practice.  Look at a few of the Psalms with me.  Psalm 85:8 I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants and what about Psalm 86:2 that says Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God.

I need to know that God is guarding my life and strengthening my foundation.  Anxiety can so easily sneak in and start causing me to doubt myself and be fearful. Psalm 86:11 is the cure for anxiety.  Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

I am still a voracious reader – and 90% of what I read is intended to make me smarter. If I could define my perfect career, I would spend all day reading books, researching articles, and contributing to the success of the authors by giving them feedback and encouraging them by promoting all the good points of what they’ve written.  I know – I hear you.  That’s not a paying job.  OK – but I enjoy the whole process of reading, thinking, and I love writing and journaling.  Most of all I love to be the encourager.

This is what I’ve come to realize though. My friend was right way back in the early 70s. In all the reading I do, my foundation has to be the Word of God. Without it, I would be living in an anxiety factory. Life is uncertain and uncertainty breeds anxiety. Reading the Bible first and running to the words of the Father instead of the words of man, no matter how truthful they are, is the path to being free of anxiety. But reading the Word is only the first step.  Matthew 7:24-28 (NIV) “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.

Let’s encourage each other to build our foundation on the truth – so we can discern the other books we should be reading to help us be effective in whatever tasks are before us.  And while we’re at it – let’s practice, peaceful living.  Philippians 4:9  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZvZWUZFevI