Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to fall in love with Twitter again (aka how to use Twitter right, IMHO)

Twitter and I have an on-again, off-again kind of relationship. It took me quite a while to learn to like Twitter in the first place - I was "forced" to use it, initially, by a travel website I was working for! - and I still have waves of love and not-so-much-love for it. Just over a year ago I blogged about all the reasons I love Twitter and yet a few months ago I felt like I couldn't really be bothered again.

Now I'm back on the Twitter bandwagon again, and I wanted to tell you what got me back to happy tweeting. There's been a lot of discussion this year about how people miss the "old" Twitter - the Twitter of its first years where there was a lot of chatting between people, and a lot less of people just posting links to their blog posts or to other people's posts without much in the way of useful comment. And I realised that this was exactly the problem for me, too.

My tweets these days: links with comments, my thoughts, and discussions about wombats


How I solved my lack of Twitter enthusiasm

Once I'd realised that I missed chatting to people (one of my favourite parts of Twitter - not just "meeting" people but also getting involved in tweet-ups and tweet-chats) and I was sick of seeing endless links to stuff, then I decided on my solution. (Incidentally, I tried using Twitter lists as my solution, but this wasn't actually the answer I needed.)

I just had to go and unfollow a bunch of people.

So, over the course of a couple of months, I've been looking out for people who don't fit my requirements, and I've also used tools like ManageFlitter which can identify people you follow on Twitter who are spam, inactive, or various other undesirable categories, and my follow list has been cut down considerably. What a wonderfully cleansing purge this has been! Basically, I've unfollowed Twitter accounts which:

  • Only tweet their own blog posts (I like finding about your new blog posts. But not if that's all you tell me.)
  • Only tweet links - whether these links are their own or someone else's - and never have any comment to add to it. If you're going to tweet links, add a few characters so I know why I should read it.
  • Only auto-tweet stuff from Facebook. This is one of my true pet hates. If you don't have time to be on Twitter then don't be on Twitter! Facebook posts are so different to tweets.
  • Never have conversations with other Twitter users.  When I see a tweet that's just an unexciting link (especially if I suspect it's automated) then I click through to their profile - if their last few tweets are like that too, and no @ messages to other real people, then it's an immediate unfollow from me!
  • Barely ever use Twitter - because then they're unlikely to get involved "properly" too.
And it worked! 

The only problem now is that I am too tempted to spend too much time on Twitter, because it's so much fun. In particular, having nearly-live conversations with people (as in, you reply reasonably quickly) is fun. Fortunately I realised a quick way around this was to simply leave Twitter open in a tab while I'm at my desk, but click on the Notifications tab - then if I get replies a little number pops up, and I can hop in and reply when I have a spare moment between other tasks, but without getting drawn into the whole feed and discovering new conversations I want to have when I really should be doing something else.

Having the Twitter Notifications window open saves me getting lost in the Twitter stream
You can see in this little screen shot that the number of notifications shows up in the tab, so I don't even need to waste time clicking their to check - it automatically refreshes.

How are you going with Twitter?

What's your current relationship with Twitter? Do you love or hate it - and which bits do you actually like? Is there a way that you can set it up to only find the bits you love, like I have?





Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Thoughts on blogging after nine years of my travel blog: why you should or shouldn't start a blog

Last week my first blog love, my travel blog Not A Ballerina, turned nine. Yep, nine whole years have passed since I first sat down at my little desk in my flat in Germany and started a blogspot blog, not really having any clue about what it was all about, and even less clue that I'd still be doing it nine years later and that it would be starting to make an income. It was a big month for my little blog because apart from having a birthday, I also (finally!) had it moved from the Blogger platform to WordPress.

Back when I started, I hadn't even heard of WordPress, yet know it's the absolute platform of choice for serious bloggers, and I had been putting off this move for years. There are a bunch of things that I can do now that I couldn't do in Blogger (although, to be fair, Blogger has become much more robust over the years I've been using it) and I knew that it was really time. The blog got to have a bit of a spring clean redesign at the same time and I'm super-grateful to Kelly Exeter at Swish Design for making the change so much less scary than I'd expected!

The new look of my travel blog, Not A Ballerina

Blogging has changed SO much in these last nine years. It was really just a hobby for pretty much everyone when I started, or at most a place to showcase your work or create a bit of a portfolio. Now it's a whole profession. It's amazing! It's also one of the most exciting things I've ever had the chance to be involved in.

But of course, people still come along and ask me why they should start a blog. There are a lot of reasons to start one, but it sure isn't for everyone. Here's my take ...


Why you SHOULD start a blog


  • You are crazily passionate about a particular topic (and it doesn't matter if there are already heaps of blogs on your topic - in fact it's probably a good sign)
  • You quite like writing. It's easier if you LOVE to write, but not minding it at least is a good start.
  • You have some ideas for photos or other images you could use in a blog. These days a blog can rarely afford to be words alone. (PS: check out a site like Canva if you think you can't make cool images.)
  • You have or can create a few spare hours a week at least. Blogging is a relatively time-consuming hobby. (On the plus side, it's a relatively cheap hobby, so that's something.)
  • You can sit down and write a list of at least 20 topics for individual blog posts without thinking too hard. 
  • You have a plan: if you're hoping to turn a blog into a business, then you need to have a good think through before you start. Rather than, like me, blundering along for seven or eight years completely randomly before trying to be more strategic about it! (Better late than never, of course.)
  • And mainly: because you might really, really love blogging, get to meet lots of great people because of your blog, and have a true feeling of satisfaction and pleasure every single time you hit the Publish button.

Why you SHOULDN'T start a blog


  • You really hate writing. It is a real slog to write a blog (ha! that rhymes!) if the words part really doesn't come easily to you at all.
  • Just because someone advises you that you need a blog to help your business. Yes, a blog will very likely help your business, but not if you just get it set up and then rarely post there. You have to really want to do it.
  • You want to write down heaps of stuff about your family and friends. This will end in disaster. Blogs are meant to be personal, yes, but that doesn't give you a licence to divulge all the personal experiences of other people.
  • You think you can generate an income from a blog pretty much straight away and without too much hard work. You're better off just buying lottery tickets!
  • You have no spare time at all.
  • You don't even like using a computer very much.


Do you blog? Do you want to start one?


Bloggers: what do you think of my list? Knowing what you know now, would you still go back in time and start the same blog, or would you do things differently?

Non-bloggers: are you tempted? Do you have any questions about the blogging life?

Let me know in the comments!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...