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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pros and cons to Instagram and Pinterest



I just pinned the last post onto my board.   It looks like this: 

My blog pin board (c) 2015 Pinterest.com.
Photo by P.Lynne Designs
Simple, right?  No so fast, and there are pros and cons to Pinterest. Some facts about the two websites:
1.      Did you know that not everyone is a willing participate?  Shocking but true.  There is this annoying law throughout the land called a copyright law, but in some cases, it can be very helpful, especially if you do not want something to be shared.  It is now required that all sites like Pinterest to have a code, that the person can place on their page that prevents another person from sharing that site’s images. 
2.      This from the Digital Marketing:  There are 70 million users on Pinterest (including yours truly), 85% are female, and 42% are adult women.  So if you are wondering how and who to market to as well as where to market at on social media, there you go.   But not so fast.  The numbers for men are growing.  In addition to those stats, keep this in mind as well:  4.8% are Americans who use Pinterest during work. The average time spent on Pinterest:  14.2 minutes.  So for marketers looking to engage in this group (and a few bloggers), you have 14.2 minutes to impress someone to pin your photo and read your post or ad.  That is a monthly average of 98 minutes. 
3.      Pinterest is very easy to use.  You set up an account, set your boards, and start pinning.  You fill out an application with all your info (except your street address, which I do not recommend you do, unless you order something and have it delivered), and you ready to start pinning.
4.      Time waster.  I will save this for later when I conclude all of the social media platforms, but, yeah, Pinterest is up there with Facebook as one of the biggest time wasters.  You can sit there, pin one or two ideas, and 30 minutes have gone by.  If you are that person, who can sit for hours and pin, set a timer on phone.  When those minutes are over, please stop, and resume your scheduled activity.  If this becomes a problem, I suggest you take a time out from the social media.
5.      It's your style.  I do not have to say that you need to have your boards like mine, because if you do not like my tastes, that is OK. 
Instagram pros and cons

1.      Facts: it one of the favorite social media among millennials (18-30). There are 300 million monthly active users, amongst those numbers, there are daily users of 70 million.  Surprisingly, 9% of teen girls have said they have been cyber-bullied through Instagram.  26% in the US use Instagram.  Among adult males and females, only 15% (male) versus 20% (female) use Instagram.  So again, thinking about this as you write your posts, and there is a way to get readers through Instagram.
2.      It is the best social media platform for sharing photos, next to Pinterest.  You can share what you ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a movie you just saw, a craft project you just made, your child’s reaction to the latest movie trailer, a sunset…anything.  BUT…there is also this thing called over sharing. Please, for all things good and just, as must as people love Instagram, enough with the food porn.  If it is a great recipe you have tried to make, fine.  If it a new restaurant that you want everyone to try, good.  BUT, if it is your normal everyday routine of cereal, toast, and coffee, and you shared it for the 9th time in a row, please stop. Not everyone is that into your daily routine.
3.      Instagram is private.  Please when you sign up for your account, do not put your street address.  You are not ordering anything, so therefore, they do not need your street address.  If you must put an address, please use city and state (no zip).  Otherwise, they do have privacy settings.
4.      Instagram is a positive influence.  I can hear the grumbles, but hear me out.  When you post a picture on Instagram with a positive message, you can generally “likes”.  It can brighten someone's day or life.  It can make a person feel good about themselves.  I have a whole subject to talk about this, but this is the very reason why a person should not cyber-bully.  Now who wants to see a picture of a puppy?
5.      Tagging a location.  If this an account for a minor, and I do not believe in anyone under the age of 18 having one, because of child and teen predictors,  but that is my opinion, please do not put even the city and state on their account.  Please educate your child on what to do, and how to it, if someone approaches them.
Some may wonder why I did not include you tube.  These two Social Media platforms are different than YouTube, which is in a whole different platform, since it is a video sharing program.  I will have something to say on this one.

The next post will focus on how I use these platforms to gain likes and traffic.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A picture is worth a thousand words: Pinterest and Instagram part 1


 
Pinterest Logo (2015) Pinterest.com.
Instagram logo (2015) instagram.com
In continuing with this series of mine, which is all about social media and how I personally use them, I made an executive decision to spread it is out over a course of a few weeks, while keeping up with the rest of my posts.  The reason for it is so you can digest what was given to you, and if you are interested in learning more, I will not overwhelm you with information.  I also do not want to give you a whole bunch of fluff.  If you are the same type of learner I am, you would appreciate my teaching technique of “slow and steady wins the race”. 
I hope you were able to get the jest of Twitter in the last couple of posts.  I will do a recap at the end of the series for you.  Today and tomorrow, I will cover both the basics of Pinterest and Instagram.  The reason for me covering both at the same time is to me, they both do the same thing.  That is, they allow people to post photos to share (and share and share).   I have you know that these two are my absolutely favorites of all the social media, because I do not have to say but one or two sentences on what is going on in the photo.  Not only that, but if you are computer savvy enough to link a picture from Pinterest to a blog article or post you have written, your traffic will increase.  I have seen the numbers on my own posts.  I am starting to grow in this area, so it will take a while to get the traffic numbers I want from my blogs, but for the moment, I am happy with the results.  If you do not have a website or blog, do not worry about this portion, but I know you will benefit from what I have to say.  First off, Instagram.
Instagram is one of those apps that is strictly mobile.  With an Instagram app, you can take a picture, post it on Instagram, and bring people into a portion of your world.  I have shared family photos, work photos, even photos of what I have eaten.  The problem you have to watch is like all social media, you have to be very careful of how many photos you share and how often you share it.  My tip for you is to space it out, no matter if this is a personal or business share.   Again, you could be accused of over-sharing or spamming.  Make it short and sweet, but make it likable.
Pinterest is sharing what you like.  It could be a decorated living room, advice on how to save for a vacation or getting out of debit, a product idea, recipe, or a DIY project.  You like it, and you want to share it.  Simple, right?  No so fast, and there are pros and cons to everything, including Pinterest.   Those pros and cons will be talked about in my next post, but for now, you have to be very careful on what you share on Pinterest.

So this ends my post for now.  Next, I will discuss the pros and cons of both Instagram and Pinterest, followed by how I use each of them.    

Friday, April 10, 2015

Find your why.

(2013) P.Lynne Designs

So you decided to become a writer.  Good, congrats on selecting a potentially profitable career.  I do not often talk about this area of writing, because most of my posts are for people who just want to put pen to paper, or as I call it, fingertips to keyboard, and write.  I cannot say that writing is an easy job to have, but look at it this way:  You are informing people of the knowledge you have on a subject, you are the escape master (creative writing), or you are an inspiration to people who may want to go in a line of work that you write about.  Sometimes you a little of all three.
Some days, I am just write for myself.  Just me and my blogs, trying to make a living.  When you first get started, you need supplement income.  After all, a girl’s got to eat, and still exist in this world.  Your bills are not going to stop because you decided to work for yourself.  For instance, I have two other businesses while I am establishing myself as a writer.  I am a custom paper crafter, where I make custom scrapbook albums, greeting cards, invitations, notebooks, and stationary sets, soon to break out to include planners.  I am also in direct selling as an Independent Longaberger® Home Consultant, where I sell home products, such as baskets and pottery in a home or online party. Both of these jobs I find enjoyable most days, after all, it is what I asked for and are a few of my passions.   If you are looking for something to write about, write about your passion.  Do not just write it, for it may come across as forced and non-believable to your readers, but really show in your works that you truly have a passion for what you write about.  At the same time, do not come across as a know-it-all.  Do not be afraid to ask for help in areas of your passion.  You may learn something from the areas of your passion that you are the weakest at.
For instance, I just learned last week that there is a new crafting project called Pocket Letters.  It is a cool concept where crafters, especially those who paper craft (my specialty), form groups, and swap page protectors full of little trinkets or scrapbooking supplies, and encased within the items is a small note for the receiver to read.  I will have to research it further and write about it.  In other words, a review of a product or concept.  I also have to write about the new spring-summer catalog that just came out full of new and returning Longaberger products.  This is a form of advertising, to which I have a bachelor’s degree in.  I may find something new to write about Disney, organizing, or both.  Humm, “Organizing the Disney Way”? Now, that IS a new concept.
When you write for others, rather is it guest blogging, article writing, or researching for that client’s own passion, it is not about you anymore.  It is about what the client’s needs are, and how you can meet those needs.  Your writing has to come across to match the style of the client’s, as if they are writing as themselves on their blog or magazine.  It is called ghost writing. (Which also means giving up credit and their name goes in the byline instead of yours.) Sometimes you have to use their technical terms, while writing in your style.  No matter how you write and who you write for, you still have to find your why. “Why does the subject means so much to me?”  “Why do I want to research this niche?” These are some of the questions I ask myself before taking on a client. 
When I first got started writing for a client, I did not like the subject he wanted me to research, which was gardening tools, in particular weed whackers, lawn mowers, snipers, and the like.  I love gardening, but lawn care was a little bit out of my league, because as a child, I was not required to take care of the lawn.  That was my brother’s job.  I grumbled as I did this research, I wrote, and I think I even cried one day, until I told myself that this was not going on my blog.  I had a client who needed me to do this research.  I needed to put on my big girl panties and suck it up.  I also told myself to write it as if the posts were going on my blog.  At the end, my client loved the posts I wrote for me, gave me good reviews, and recommended others to me.  It was not about the money at this point. Ok, a little…maybe a lot, but the point I am making is that sometimes there will be subjects that you are not going to like writing about.  I also did not like writing about weight loss and those fad diet, which again, was through ghost writing. 

So, before you put pen to paper (or fingertip to keyboard), except a client’s subject, or even give them a quote detailing your services (another subject for another day), think about your why in writing.  Why do you write for yourself or others, and it does not matter if it is part of a Virtual assistant’s job, a blog post, your personal journal, or an e-book.  Have passion in your work, so others may know that you are worth every penny, which sometimes may be priceless.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

How I use my social media-Twitter part 2


(2015) Twitter,inc
Hello, and welcome to part 2 of the twitter portion of this series.   Yesterday, rather Monday, I refreshed some memories while introducing others to this 140-character Social Media Platform (SMP), which is represented in the form of a little blue bird.  You can read everything here, if you just joined us. 
Today, it is all about how I use this SMP, and what I feel is the proper way, but I am no expert on the subject, which is why this is just an observation or opinion of mine. 
As I have said in the first post, Twitter is a quirky little bird, and although Twitter is not going to say much in a way of do’s and don’ts, they still have their rules.
First of all, I retweet what I like, and what I think my followers need to read.  I do have a couple of rules on retweeting, and they are as follows: 1) Make it relevant, current, or trendy.  No one likes to read something that is even 2 minutes old in the Twitter world, except if people are still talking and retweeting about it.  You can tell if they are.  That is when the subject has a hashtag sitting next to it.  I will also check my left side of the screen called “trends”.  At the moment, I have mine set on “Columbus Trends”.  It is based on location, and I can switch back and forth between Columbus and United States trends.  2) Do not make retweeting your sole purpose on Twitter.  Retweeting is the same as “share”, and if you share too much, it can come off as being too spammy.  I look at it this way:  If they like to hear what you got to say, they will retweet it (rather it was retweeted before, or new content).
Next, if I like an article, I will tweet it, especially if it pertains to my interests.  This is how posts make it on twitter in the first place, right?  Tweeting an article or post does two things: 1) It brings traffic to that site and 2) you are sharing that author’s knowledge to your followers.  By the same token, tweet your own articles and posts.  This is how you build followers through twitter.  Do not just tweet other people’s content.  Again, this is how you gain traffic to your site.  You also sharing your knowledge with others.  Say you wrote a book on weight loss.  You have discovered a type of berry that would increase a person’s metabolism when this berry is juiced and drunk during your meals, and it actually have allowed you to loss over 30 pounds. Of course you want people to read it, but you do not know how to promote this book or your website.  You can turn to twitter for this type of promotion.   Just write a 140-character tweet about your article, which is about your book, like this: check out this new book “the Truth about the Acai Berry and Weight Loss” get it now. http://bit.ly/1yXnEwk (33 characters left).  Did you notice the garbed URL at the end?  I used a URL shorten tool to fit the website address within the 140-character limit, because Twitter does not have time for that.  You click on it, and it will take you straight to the article in the example.
Finally, I follow people, but I am also starting to use the list method more.   What I am discovering is I can follow more than the 2,001 people if I use a list, so I am starting to convert people who I follow not so much on a list, and still be able to see what they have to say.  There are some people who I have both as my followed people and on a list.  I will see how that works out for me.  The ones who I just want to have on a list, I will unfollow.

So that is it for the Twitter side of the SMP.  Just remember these tips, and to show love, but not to the point, where you look like a spammer.  One tip I do want to point out.  You can link your Twitter account to the other SMP, just remember, to only share the article once, or you will get what I always get, the same post appearing more than once.   Do link your twitter account to your blog or website.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tech Tuesday: How I use my social media-Twitter part 1


(c) Twitter, Inc.
I rarely post a series on this blog.  Most of the series I do are on my other blogs, such as an organization series.  This year, I will be doing a lot of them on all of my blogs.  For this series, I will be talking about social media, and I thought I would address how I use them, and any pointers I have for you.  I am not an expert on the subject, yet, but I have been on them enough to know the ends and outs of navigating them.
First up is Twitter.  Unless you have living somewhere void of the internet, or interwebs as I heard one person say, Twitter is a Social Media Platform (SMP), which allows:
·         140-characters in a post
·         #hashtags.  They started this fun, but confusing system.
·         @usernames.  Mine is @tricia721
·         Followers: 2,000-no exceptions to the rule. (Actually it is 1,818 people with an overage of 182 people to follow, giving an actual number of 2,001, which I have topped too many times.)
·         Lists: unlimited users in each list.  You do not have to follow the user in the list.  Great way to follow someone without jeopardizing your 2,001 followers
·         If you want to get a Millennial’s attention, please use this service.  It is like texting. 
·         Best times to tweet- Monday to Friday for Business to Business (B2B) and Wednesday to Sunday for Business to Customer (B2C); 5pm for retweets, 12pm and 6pm for fresh tweets.  This is according to Neil Patel on QuickSprout.com. It does not mean that you cannot post during the rest of the day or night, these are the times that you can have the most readership and traffic on your tweet.

First things first, tweak your list…

I had this account since 2008, so in Social Media life, it is old.  Twitter has changed.  I used to think that it was a joke to type everything within 140 characters.  I still think so, because I am a long winded person. Not bad for an introvert.   You should see my Facebook status posts.  It is one of the reasons why I have blogs.  OK, so I am an introvert with extrovert tendencies.  (Hmm, maybe there is a blog post in there somewhere)
Anyway, back to twitter…I have maxed out my followers 3-4 times since I got the account, and it is nearing the 2,000 follower mark again.  One day, I will separate my business and personal accounts, for right now, they are combined.  I have found out some truths about Twitter….
1.      They are not going to change that 140-character limit.
2.      They are not changing the 2,000 follower rule.  They say it is embedded in Twitter’s Algorithm.
3.      If your account looks like that you have mostly business followers, and mines is about 50/50, they will push Twitter for Business on you.  
Looks like Twitter’s CEO has been talking to Mark Zuckerberg again.   So, how to you keep your lists fresh and updated.
·         Do follow people in your area of expertise, your interests, and your passion. 
·         If you do have a combo account (mixture of personal and business follows), make lists.  In fact, make lists anyway.  I am learning the hard way.
·         Your friends are not on Twitter.  I found that out when I did a poll.  When I say friends, I am talking about those people who you see in the flesh, not some random person who says, Follow me. This is different from my fact statement, “Millennials use Twitter”.
·         This is my pet peeve…Do not follow for a follow.  What is that?  Say that you like what I had to say.  You retweet, and you may actually start following me.  If I do not respond with a follow back or do not get to my twitter account within 24 hours, do not unfollow me.  Everyone has reasons for not watching their twitter account every second of the day.  People are busy doing other things, and just because one person has plenty of time to kill on their twitter account, that does not mean that another person does not.  In my case, I use my account for linking purposes.  It is linked to my Facebook account, my YouTube account, my LinkedIn account, my blogs, and my Pinterest account for starters.  Very seldom do I actually post on my Twitter account.

Second of all, Hashtags are your friends…

Hashtags matter, and they matter a lot with Twitter.  After all, they started the system.  Please do not have this:  #IamSoSickOfThis.  That is Facebook’s version of the hashtag system.  To twitter, hash tagging a sentence is so passé, in fact, it has been said that Facebook ruined the hashtag system.   Use the hashtag system this way: #oneword, as in #Longaberger, or #twowords, as in #LifeMatters. No more than three words, as in #AllLifeMatters. 
Some final words:
·         Shorten all links
·         Do not follow someone just to get more follows.  Show interest in what that follower has to say.
·         Retweeting is your friend, but do not over retweet. 
·         Share new and original tweets
·         Use three or less words for hashtags.
·         Create lists of people to follow
·         Remember you can only follow 2,001 people.   


Tomorrow, I will show you a tip on how to best use twitter from my standpoint, and use it effectively.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

3 reasons to explore your craft…

(2013) P.Lynne Designs


It seems lately, everything is up for new things to explore.   A baby taking their first steps, a teen learning how to drive and to explore the adult world for the first time, and a couple exploring what it is like to get married by living together.  This world is up for exploring whenever a person visits a new country, tasting new foods, and going after their dreams.
In 2001, I decided to explore into the world of direct selling by selling for a company called The Longaberger Company.  They sell baskets, pottery, and wrought iron.  In other words, home goods.  A few years before that, I decided to explore into the world of papercrafting, by creating a scrapbook for my newly born nephew, who is now 19, and is doing a little exploring himself by learning how to drive, tasting coffee, and being a doggy daddy.  He is still exploring the idea of going to college.   In 2009, I decided to explore into the possibility of going into the world of creating customized scrapbook albums, greeting cards, freelance writing, and other stationary areas, such as invitations and note cards.
As we all are trying to find and make our own path in this entity called life, a person will find out that a lot of it is nothing more than trial and error.  At the end of the day, some of it is successful, while others are duds.  Some are “glad I tried it”, while some are “I will never do this again”.  Again, at the end of the day (this time, I am talking about the end of life), when eyes are closed for the final time, a person should be happy with most of the choices made in life.
Now you are wondering, what does this have to do with crafting, especially scrapbooking.  It has to do with remembering to explore and to capture that moment, like when a child takes that first step, when a teen goes on their first date to the prom, when a person gets married, has a baby, and so forth.  Document (journaling) is a great way to hold on to those memories, taking pictures is another.  Once all that information is gathered, it is time to inform the younger generation about these happenings.  It is called heritage, it is called growth, and it is called learning about your past in order to understand your future.  Scrapbooking is merely a book of memories, no matter how pretty you make it. 

So, take out your papers, your glues, and other things to help embellish your albums.  Make them fun and inviting to other people, who do not mind looking at your family, friends, and events.  These are worth sharing.  They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but when family and friends are in it, they are priceless.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Photo of the Day: My desk



(c) 2015 P.Lynne Designs
I do not often talk about my desk.  It has changed over the years starting when I was 12, and I had one of those white Sears desks from the 1970’s.  In fact, I had the full-size bed, and the dresser to match. I wanted a set after seeing my cousin’s bedroom set.  Next, came the rinky-dinky desk, where I had my first computer on, in my room.  It did not last long.  My next desk was to me state of the art for its time.  It was oak stained (no telling what wood was actually used) desk, and it was the first piece of furniture I bought with my own money (actually with the help of my Sears store credit card) for my first apartment.   I loved it, because it had so many places to put stuff, and it really served its purpose when I moved into my current place.  I was able to do both my paper crafting and my computer work there.  In fact, it was the desk that I decided to start blogging at.
In 2013, it was time to say goodbye to that desk.  My father thought it would be a good idea to get me new carpet and paint my walls on the first floor of my condo.  I concurred, because I am not a white wall person, and I had been begging him to get a guy to paint them for me.  Well, that meant that I had to change some things, including getting rid of my much beloved desk.   When it came time to dismantle the computer desk, I wanted to just take each screw out bit by bit, and save the desktop and use it for something else.  It was like marble, although it was made out of wood.  My brother had other ideas, and after he and my nephew took the hutch off the desk part, he took his foot, and smashed it into the hutch, breaking it in two.  Then he took the side of the desk, turn it on its side and smashed it in.  So much for keep a part of it for sentimental value.  We (my parents and I) went to the store and I picked out this desk that was a two-piece, because I was asked to look at them, and pick out what I felt was my style.  When I showed it to my father, I was told that he had a budget, and the one I wanted was too high (how was I to know).  Anyway, I picked the one I am typing at now, and I love it.   The best feature of this desk is I can hide cords.   We all know that the computer, even though the trend is to move away from the cord, has a ton of them.  Cords from the printer, the monitor, and maybe an external drive can be cumbersome to say the least, but it is contained.
So what is on my desk?

(Warning:  May be Affiliate Links ahead)

I am an Independent Longaberger® Home Consultant, as well as a freelance designer of scrapbooks and cards, and a writer, so I have a couple of baskets, the Handy Basket, and a small basket.  In the Handy Basket, I have markers for my Cricut™ Explore, a couple of stencils, some commonly used small tools.   In the small basket, I have a Sharpie™ that should be in the Handy Basket, 4 stamps, and an extra blade for my Fiskars paper cutter. 
I also have an invoice from a recent order, as well as a bill statement and folders on my desk.   As for equipment, I have my computer, a Dell Inspiron 20 All-In-One computer.   It is basically a monitor with stuff inside. (DVD, speaker, and internal drive is built in,).   A big difference from the tower I had for the past 5 years.  Oh, I have an external drive lurking in the back, hooked up, but not working.  It works, but the computer is not and will not read it.  I bought it in 2011, when I had the previous computer.  The back story behind it is when I bought the previous computer, it had Windows Vista built in.  I got sick of the OS (operating system) and upgraded to Windows 7 in 2013.  That is when the computer (Inspiron 1520) stopped reading the external drive, even though the instructions said that the external drive was compatible with Win 7.  When I changed computers in May 2014, I was told that this computer (All-in-one) could read the external drive.  The computer only read it for 30 minutes then quit.  The computer has Win 8 when I bought it, and upgraded to 8.1 a few months later.   I am on the fence of upgrading it to Win 10 when it comes out. 
I always have both phones (smart and home) phones on the desk.   I also have a random ink pad and of course a lamp, which rounds out the items on my desk.

Overall, I have a typical desk.  It suits my purpose, which is to have an efficient, working business.  When I am done for the day, whatever I stop with, I leave it on there.  That is the single life with no kids.   That will change when a little one arrives, and demands her space at my desk.   Then again, I just may have to buy her a desk of her own.  No need to bother mommy’s things.