My Blogging Secrets: Review

AmberForever is not the kind of blog I would normally follow but I can easily recognise the professionalism of what she does and therefore respect her advice.

And this book has some really great advice in it!

It’s geared towards bloggers who want to monetise but the first few chapters are all about making your blog good and serve as general blogging advice that anyone can follow.

The style of the book is direct and honest and reads like a pep talk. This is a million miles away from some of the “get rich blogging” nonsense that unfortunately floods the market and is an honest attempt by an experienced blogger to share some of what she has learnt.

I enjoyed reading some of the autobiographical details as well, and who can’t identify with going through at least one period in their life of hating their day job? (It is Amber’s theory that hating your job is one of the strongest motivators towards blogging for potential profit.)

One of the things I needed a reminder on was taking good photos. When I started out, I wanted to make sure that all my photos were original, but keeping to that has sometimes meant the odd lacklustre attempts just to throw something together to illustrate a post. Following her advice, I went through when the natural lighting was good and updated some of my worst photos. The following is a case in point…




Minimalist running shoes

This may seem like pretty obvious advice but it helps to be reminded by someone who writes so well, and really gets the point across.

I also learnt a few SEO tips such as being sure to add “alt texts” to all my pictures to make it easier for Google to index the images.

But I won’t give away everything that’s in the book; if you want something non-sensationalist and aimed at the newer blogger, you could do a lot worse than getting a copy.


Five random thoughts on blogging

Here are five random thoughts on blogging, and WordPress, in no particular order:

  • I have learned three new words today from reading blogs and comments. They are: sojourn, bellicose and oneirology. (The last one is so obscure that the spell-check is picking up on it as I write.)
  • Some perspectives that I have on things, which seem rational to me, get me funny looks when I express them out loud. But I often find that other people on WordPress have the exact same opinion. (It makes me feel that I am slightly less unusual.)
  • Related to the point above, there is absolutely no knowing what rabbit hole I will end up going down when I open up my reader. I like it that way.
  • It takes a lot of nerve to share something meaningful about yourself. There is an awful lot of sharing going on in the world of social media now but it tends to be careful image-crafting, often with a heavy emphasis on an abundance of selfies. Writing anything in long form inevitably gives away a lot about the writer and I find it a very brave thing to do. For that reason, I try to visit the First Friday post when I can and offer some encouragement or practical advice if I feel that I can add something to the conversation.
  • I am extremely impressed with people who manage to post everyday. I don’t know how they do it.

(A note about the picture: I have actually re-used this picture from my last blogging post. The gold-plated fountain pen was given to me by my grandparents when I said I wanted to be a writer. They have since passed away but the pen reminds me of them.)

The Versatile Blogger Award

I would like to thank Holly and Yuvi for their nominations, and I would encourage you to check out both of their blogs!

I lack the media-savvy to stir up controversy in the style of Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes, and get myself on all the front pages of the tabloids, so I’d better just play it straight and skip to the rules:

Rules for the nominations:

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Share 7 facts about yourself.
  • Nominate ten other bloggers of your choice.
  • Link your nominees and let them know of your nomination.


And so to my seven facts…

  1. I am English but I lived in Japan for a considerable length of time.
  2. I love music, and (directly linked to number one) karaoke!
  3. Like Yuvi, I enjoy drawing and pencil sketching. (I also like painting with oils but the pencil and sketchbook is a lot less hassle to set up.)
  4. Like Holly, I enjoy interacting with the blogging community, and enjoy browsing the Reader just as much as writing new posts.
  5. I have been playing guitar for about seventeen years and I’m still not very good!
  6. I am in my early thirties and I still can’t get over the fact that the nineties finished around the same time I got my first guitar.
  7. I am a pretty awful runner, but, contrary to the title of my blog, I have both of my gluteus maximus muscles thoroughly invested in my efforts!

And these are my nominations, which are only a small sample of all the great blogs I have seen on WordPress…

  • Olive Tree by The Sea – a beautiful website with attractive photography, there is a pervading sense of calm to this blog.
  • Spaghettihead1 – worth a visit for the name alone, this is a very brave site, documenting the trials of living with a borderline personality disorder.
  • thesm14 – this blog is a real life example of courage in the face of adversity. Be inspired!
  • Fantasy Road – this site is overflowing with hilarious banter! Considering the extent to which the self-proclaimed King Wrecket insults his readership, I’m amazed he has any followers at all.
  • I Run Elite – this blog is at the opposite end of the spectrum to my own. If you want some running advice from someone who actually knows what they’re doing, this is the place to go.
  • My Stories With Music – featuring short form fiction with bespoke evocative music to match, this is a highly original blog. I especially like the song that accompanies Wonderland.
  • Inexorable Spark – juxtaposing the profound with the prosaic, Nathi comes up with a range of thought provoking musings in the process.
  • The Real Stories – Yoly shares anecdotes from her life, which seems to be both fascinating and tumultuous.
  • cat h. bradley – writer/traveller/foodlover/yogi/runnin’ fool – this is the brilliant tag line to an equally brilliant blog – diverse and highly readable
  • The Payslip Pauper –  documenting one man’s quest to financial independence, this blog is well worth a read.

Thoughts on my first week of blogging

It has now been a week since I started this blog, although I wrote my first post a few days before actually publishing it, when I was still toying with the idea of blogging.

So I decided to take a little bit of time out from writing about running and do what I think is referred to as a “meta-post”.

This is because I wanted to share my experience so far with the WordPress community, which I have to say has been overwhelmingly positive. I have been working hard to get my posts out there and have had some really good feedback already, including well-intentioned practical pointers for improving the site. (A special shout-out should go to Raj of XDrive here, who reminded me to remove my social icon widgets until I was actually using them. This made me go through and check what other parts of the template I hadn’t personalised as well.)

I have also tried to make it a rule to check out the websites of bloggers who have expressed an interest in my site. (I’m curious to see who all these other bloggers are, and what they’re about.) This means I have read things, seen stunning photographs (and even heard music) I never would have come across browsing Facebook or the BBC news website. These have often been things that are quite removed from my own experience, and, without being too corny, I feel that my world has expanded just a little bit because of them.

Some savvy marketing people might say I have been networking hard.

But I don’t see it that way.

The trouble is, I hate the word “networking”, because to me it has always had that connotation of looking over someone’s shoulder at a party instead of really listening to what they’re saying. (You know, that clichéd check to see if someone more influential has just entered the room. It’s a trope that’s used in a lot of films, and for good reason – it’s a genuine satire on something that really does go on.)

In short, the way that networking has been explained to me has always made it seem highly disingenuous.

My friend summed it up very well in a text he sent me when we were at the same graduate recruitment fayre:

The joy and wonder of meeting new people reduced to a single word: networking

So perhaps it’s time we turned the concept on its head. To pull out another piece of business terminology, let’s give “networking” a re-brand. Let’s call it “engagement”, or “human connection”, because it just sounds nicer to me, and it removes that unwelcome sub-text of “I’m only talking to you to see what you can do for me”.

To me, the best part of engagement is that the interaction itself has intrinsic value: it enriches the lives of both people involved just that little bit, regardless of whether it opens up an opportunity to promote your own project or not.