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Al Graham

Author & Blogger

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Internet

My Blog is dead

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Less than a week ago, my blog stats were booming.  My readers were reading what I had written.  Liking what I had to say.  Commenting on my posts.

A week later.  Nothing.

The stats graph on my WordPress App shows nothing more than a roller coaster that peaked a week ago.

The truth is, I’m back into reality.  A week ago, I was on holiday from work and I had far more free time to sit and write.  I was relaxed and my ideas flowed from my mind, down my arms, into my fingers and ultimately onto the key board.  It was a great week.  I was feeling confident about my blog.

I went back to work and within two days, my desire to come up and sit and post anything onto my blog had withered.  I worried that I was losing interest and all that hard work last week was a fluke.

I had to remind myself that the desire to be a writer has always been there and always will be.  Realistically, to have any success as a writer, I’ll need to work hard on the balance of ‘real life’ and the life of me, ‘the writer’.

It’s amazing how hard it can be to get yourself back into something that you know you love, yet, the reality of working to live can overpower the desire of writing to live.

However, I will not be beaten.  I mean, Ive posted 2 blogs already tonight.

My blog isn’t dead.  It was merely resting.

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The ‘likes’ & ‘views’ Roller coaster

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My blog is fairly new.  In fact, its very new.  Like most people, I’m using it as a vessel to get my writing out there, to showcase my abilities and share what I have to share.

I have the WordPress App on my iPhone, on my iPad.  I sit in front of the iMac at night, as I am now, and I look at my stats, I study what has been read, what has been ignored.

I find that it bothers me, when an article is viewed, but, has not been liked.  Which is ridiculous, because not everybody will like what I have to say or what story I like to tell.

Some mornings, especially after posting a blog, I’ll wake up to notifications galore, likes, followers and comments.  Some mornings, there’s nothing.

Before I go to bed, I’ll look at my stats and wonder why I’ve only had 3 visitors and 5 views all day.  Other nights, I can’t believe that I’ve had 15 visitors and 30 views in one day.

If I have a ‘bad’ day, statistics wise, I find it motivates me to get back in front of the keyboard and batter away at a new article.  Other times, I feel disheartened and steer clear of the keyboard.

I’m not criticising my readers or my followers.  I’m criticising myself, for being too critical on my work and my blog.  But, when you want to succeed at something you love, its impossible to switch off.  You constantly raise that ‘barr’!

Until tomorrows view count and like counter…

 

That really gets my goat! Part 2: Gumtree Goons

Goat 1

Its said that the average household has around £1000 of unused and unwanted goods, gadgets & furniture lying around.  TV’s in the attic.  Mobile phones in drawers.  Furnitutre in the garage.  Sometimes, old cars sit feeling sorry for themselves on the drive, having never been driven for years.

If you ever found yourself strapped for cash, it is almost certain that if you looked hard enough around your home, you could easily rustle up enough cash to fix the car, upgrade your TV, finally pay Mum & Dad back or, in my case recently, add it to moving fees and to the baby fund.

I can say with confidence, that I am a dab hand when it comes to selling on gumtree or eBay.  Not without several years of practice, mind you.  How you describe an item, the way you photograph it and even how you title it, could be the difference between collecting cash, or collecting dust.

Many of my gumtree transactions have been smooth and successful. Ive sold items as big as caravans and items as small as camping chairs.  Most gumtree shoppers are easy enough to deal with.  They browse their local area for a particular item, and if you’re lucky enough, they’ll spot your amazingly written and photographed advert.  Once they have read the description, they get in touch with you and arrange a suitable time to come and view (and hopefully buy) your unwanted item.  Its generally a pleasant experience.

However, more than often than I’d like, a Gumtree goon comes into my life and really, really gets my goat! Let me explain why.

In my adverts, I carefully take photos of what Im selling.  I write a short paragraph, describing the item.  I’ll list any flaws, dimensions, missing parts and any broken bits (if necessary).  Then, I’ll list my terms of the sale.  By this, I mean how I’d like to be contacted.  I explain that texts will be ignored, please email me or call me during business hours, and please do not contact me with insulting silly, silly offers.

You can imagine my irritation levels when I received a text from an unknown number at 10:30pm one week night.  Yes, this was a gumtree goon, interested in a computer desk I had listed for £20.  The text messaging tennis between myself and this unbelievable duck egg, was astounding, if not unbelievable.

Goon: Do you still have computer desk?

Me: Yes.

Goon: What size is it?

Me: Dimensions are in the ad description.

There was a short pause.

Goon: How much do you want for it?

Me: As it says in the ad, £20.

Goon: Offer you £5?

Me: £5?! its listed at £20.

10 minutes passed by.

Goon: £5 and an unopened litre bottle of Perno?

I didn’t respond.

Another 10 minutes passed by.

Goon: Thoughts?

Me: Please delete my number and do not contact me again.

I broke my own rules that night by actually responding to the text.  But, the desk was taking up valuable space in the freshly decorated nursery and had been listed for over a week.  I wanted it gone.  Gone for the price of £20.  Not £5 and a bottle of gut melting liquor.

Other similar experiences have included phone calls about a mountain bike I’d been selling.  One merry gentleman rang me and asked for the bikes frame size.  It was written in the bloody title, you know, the one he had to click on, to read my advert!

An older lady once called me, enquiring about an old Peugeot car I had spent a few weeks fixing up for sale.  She wanted to know what colour it was.  Now, I was certain that the coloured photo on the listing, would have been enough.  Was she colour blind? I don’t know, but, she wasn’t illiterate, and for good measure I had written the colour in the advert description. Green!

A foreign gentleman called me late one evening.  Reluctantly I answered.  He was enquiring about a caravan I had for sale.  It turns out he was very interested, but lived five hours away.  He was so interested, in fact, that he packed his wife and child into the minivan and drove through the night for five solid hours to my front door, arriving a little past eight in the morning.  When he arrived, he spent less than ten minutes examining the caravan, to then offer me less than half of what I was asking.  When I declined, he got upset and pleaded with me because he had come so far.  That was his problem.  Why on earth would you travel that far to buy something you hadn’t even seen?  Needless to say, he left and the caravan remained with me, taking up valuable space on my drive.

It could be enough to put you off private selling.  However, the money that can be made and the satisfaction of sending an otherwise unused item back into use, is far too great.  So, I have compiled a list of some top tips to gumtree goons everywhere, to ensure you stop wasting precious time and save yourself needless embarrassment.

1. Please read the advert and the description.  Follow the sellers instructions.  If they ask you not to text, don’t text.  If they ask you to call during business hours, please do so.  By sticking to the sellers terms, you save any unnecessary hostility or shirty replies when you do get in touch and the seller reluctantly responds to your text or answers you call.

2. Can you actually afford the item? Then please do not contact a seller.  Stop asking for an 80% discount, offering your hamster as a swap for a Range Rover or being so arrogant, as to believe that just because you offer ‘cash’ and will ‘take away today’, it will change the sellers mind and will accept your insulting, embarrassing offer.

3. Read what the seller has written about the item.  Look for sizes, colours and conditions.  Carefully look at the photos.  Do not glance at the advert and ask questions that have already been answered.  You could save yourself masses of time and further shirty responses.  If its not written in the advert, however, then ask away.

4. Stop time wasting.  More than I’d care to remember, I have wasted mornings and afternoons waiting on gumtree goons who say they’re coming to view or buy an item and then never show.  It wastes time and money, as you stop any other potential buyers, because you believed the last idiot, who said he was coming.  Oh and he’s suddenly stopped responding to your calls.

To the goons who can’t read, won’t read or refuse to use the brain and eyes that god gave you, you are a small minority who are sucking the pleasure out of an otherwise productive and pleasurable pastime.  And you know what? That really gets my goat!

Goat has been got!

Did you enjoy this rant? Read Part 1 here, Cinema Commandos.

How did I achieve 17,869 views on YouTube?

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I’m not saying it was easy.

But, I was determined that I was going to get my work out there.

So what did I do to get my current total video view of almost 18k?  I’ll tell you more below.

Now, some of you may be sitting there saying, “Thats easy, I could easily get 100,000 hits if i posted the right video”.

I dont disagree.  I could have done that too, if I had re posted Gangnam Style, or rehashed a trailer of Die Hard or created a response video to Charlie bit my finger.  Instead, I chose to create my own content based on what stories or facts I wanted to tell or share.  That is when it becomes difficult to get your videos viewed and get yourself known.

So whats the big secret? No secret, just some simple steps…

1. Create quality content that is interesting and between 30 seconds and 2 minutes long.  Review an app, review a movie or film a fast, intense action scene.  Get straight to the point and make it visually exciting.  Learn more about this, here.

2. Similar to your blog, upload videos often, but don’t overload your viewers.  If your audience enjoys your videos, they will want to see steady, continuous content from you.  If possible, pick a day that will be your upload day and stick to it.  Your audience will soon get to know your upload day and be ready to view your new video.

3. Return the favour and take time out to watch other YouTubers videos.  Watch, share, like and comment.  This is the real saving grace of your YouTube channel and videos.  By taking the time out and showing an interest in other peoples work, means they will soon do the same.  Don’t underestimate how important this part is.

4. Create a Facebook fan page in relation to your YouTube channel.  If you have Twitter, link it to your Facebook page.  Then, share your videos.  In time, when looking at your video stats, you will notice traffic coming from your social media sites.

5. Don’t give up.  You will only get better and your video content can only improve.

“Thats it??” I hear some of you say.

“Pretty much” I say.

The above 5 points may seem obvious or vague.  However, you will be amazed at the amount of people that think making a half baked video and posting it onto YouTube means 10 million views.  Like anything else in life, you have to work and work hard for it.

I have religiously lived by the above five points for many years.  I have Experimented with them, tweaked them and tried other methods.  But, just like your Blog, if you write interesting content, interact with your readers and post often, you gradually build a loyal following.

How to Earn from Blogging, there’s no secret

There are many articles on the Internet and perhaps on WordPress talking about ‘how I made $3000+ in a month’.  This may be so and is all very well and good, but how do YOU actually make money on the internet, via your Blog and continue making it?

If you are reading this then you are either a current Blogger who’d like to earn a little cash from doing what you love, or, you’re a new Blogger and interested in creating something with your blogging skills that could be of interest to your readers, while earning you some cash.

Aside from WordPress, there are many Blogging sites available to you, where you are free to make an account and Blog until the cows come home.  Some are more suited to, and encourage you to earn from your Blogging.

If you are in the hope of earning hundreds of pounds (or dollars) through Blogging, then WordPress or this article is most likely not for you.

So what are the best sites and how do you get started? Below, I have shared two sites that I have used and been very successful with.

Firstly, sign up to http://www.xomba.com
Xomba is a community and much like WordPress, we are all here to help one another.  You help one another by reading, sharing and voting for each others articles.
Once you sign up for Xomba, you need to sign up for a Google adsense account. Again, this costs you nothing and it is fairly simple to do.  For those of you who don’t know, a Google Adsense account is linked to your blogs with links that are of the same subject or interest to your blog or article.  You are paid by Google per click.

The next thing you should do is sign up to http://www.firstwriter.com.  This site is a fantastic place for all new aspiring writers. There is a world of information, contacts and competitions available all the time. This will assist you in keeping your writing fresh and giving you the necessary exposure you will want and need, as you work to earn on Xomba.

Okay, you’ve set up your Xomba account and you’ve setup your ad sense account after reading Xomba’s help guide. So now what? Simple. You write and write. You write well and you write lots and lots of articles. Sounds easier than it is, but it all depends on how much time you have or are willing to spend on writing articles. If you are here to make a few extra pounds (or bucks!) then writing a few articles a day or a week should be sufficient enough. Any of you who are here to make hundreds, then you need to write hundreds- literally. You can read my top tips on becoming a successful writer, here.

So what do you write about? You should write about what interests you. You do this because you will enjoy writing about it and you will be knowledgeable on your chosen subject. The other side of the coin of course is, you should write about what interests your audience. This is a little more tricky, but it can still be done:-

1. Take the time to browse and read what fellow Bloggers are writing about.
2. Browse the web and look for interesting news stories that you could link to or write about in your own words.
3. Browse websites such as Amazon.com and look at what books, DVDs and gadgets are selling and write about them. Review them if you have read, watched or used them.
4. What’s on at the cinema? Did you just see the latest blockbuster that everyone will be flocking to see? Then review it and publish it.

There are no right or wrong things to write about. Remember, your articles will not make you money overnight and it may take a while before people start clicking into them. Some of your articles will get more clicks than others. Some will never get a click at all. But the best thing that you can do is keep up to date with what is going on in the world and write, write and write.

One last thing I suggest you do is build yourself an online portfolio. The chances are that if you are reading this, you already have a WordPress blogging site.  If not, however, sign up for free and start blogging.  This will become your online portfolio, and if your articles or blogs are interesting and current, you will create a following quickly.

Remember to keep writing and writing well.  That is the only secret.

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