How to use polls to engage your blog readers

Hey blogger!

Have you ever used a poll before? If you’ve not, today’s post is perfect for you. 

Polls are a good way for bloggers to find answers to questions, try out new things or just feel the pulse of the online tribe.

Here are a few ways you can use polls for your blog.

To try out a new blog segment

Are you thinking of introducing a fresh segment on your blog but you are not sure how your audience will take it? Try taking a  poll. You can do a pilot post on your blog and create a simple poll asking your readers to vote for or against the new segment. This is a bit better than asking them to leave a comment because it gives you the results without you having to count manually who is for or against the addition. 

Top notch ideas on how to improve the blog

Tired of second guessing or doing it on your own? Ask for help. Ain’t nothing wrong with that! If you need ideas on how to improve your delivery, design or approach you can create a poll to ask your followers. Most of them would gladly chip in a thing or two. Besides your audience’s advice is priceless especially the honest and sincere ones.

What you should remove from your blog

This may be a bit painful especially if you do not agree with some of the suggestions but honest and sincere answers never hurt anyone right? The worst that could happen is that you’d reject the suggestions and move on. On the other hand, you may be getting valuable feedback on how to make your blog more likeable. 

Either way, polls are a great way to engage your audience in a fresh way.

All the writing events you can attend this weekend

 

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Hello, Sparkle Writers! There are a number of amazing events holding this weekend.  Check them out.

The FCT Book Fair

It is the first of its kind in Abuja so apart from getting the opportunity to hangout with book lovers, buy good books and have a great time, you’d be part of history. Is that not amazing? 

The Book Fair will feature a picnic, games like scrabble, monopoly and chess. There would be toys and bouncing castles for children. Authors and bookstore owners will make sure to bring great books you can buy. We think this would be a good way to have wholesome fun with your family and friends.

The fair would hold Sunday, August 27, 2017

The venue is Event Centre, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti Street, Srea 3 Garki Abuja.

Follow @FCTbookfairNg on Twitter for details. 

 

Tomi Adesina’s Book Launch

 

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Whoop! If you have been following us for a while then you’d know that we have featured Tomi on our #WriterSpotlight.

It is with great pleasure that we announce that she is launching her book George’s Pieces Of Me. 
The launch date is Sunday 20th August 2017  by 3:00 pm.

Tomi writes so beautifully you’d love her event.

 

If you want your event for writers to be featured on our blog, please send an email to thesparklewriters@gmail.com.

#WriterSpotlight – Sholape Abidakun is pursuing her writing dreams one article at a time

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One of the reasons we started our #WriterSpotlight series was to encourage and celebrate writers all over the world. We are always happy when we come across writers with outstanding talent and passion. Today we have Sholape and we had a great time getting to know more about her love for writing. We hope you’d enjoy her interview with us. 

Hello Solape. Can you please describe yourself in a few words?

My name is Sholape Abidakun, @desolape on Instagram. I am a lawyer, aspiring arbitrator and writer.

When did you discover that you had a passion for writing and why did you decide to follow this passion?

I discovered it when I was really young. I would write letters to my mum, giving detailed descriptions of what the house help did, what she wore, my entire day basically.

Can you tell us what you love most about writing?

The ability to put my thoughts and feelings on paper, bringing them to life. I also love that my writing connects with people in different ways and on various levels. It also serves as therapy for me.

Which author (dead or alive) would love to spend a day with if given a chance?

Stephen King (Alive).

Have you ever reached a point where you wanted to give up on writing?

I have never reached that point, and I sincerely hope I never do.

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When you are struggling to find inspiration, can you share some of the things that you do find that inspiration to write?

I usually listen to music, or I just read. I turn to blogs, articles, the Bible (lots of stories there). Sometimes, I discuss with family or friends. I watch people and make-up stories about them in my head. I find inspiration in different ways.

Do you think you will ever retire from writing?

I hope not!

What will you say has been your biggest achievement as a writer so far?

I have never been as committed to writing as I have been this month, so I think my biggest achievement at the moment is staying committed to it.

Where would you like writing to take you in the future?

I want to publish books, hard covers and e-books. I would like to coach budding writers (like myself, at the moment).

What advice do you have for people who want to hone their writing skills and become renowned writers one day?

Be open. Share your work with people who are skilled in writing and listen to their criticisms, if any. Attend writing classes and workshops. Read different forms of literature. Engage in writing competitions or challenges.

Writing Quote – Writers get ideas all day every day

 

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“Writers get ideas all day every day. The FedEx guy delivers a package from Sears and the writer is thinking how it could actually be a ticking time bomb.” ~ Dan Alatorre

We totally agree with this. Ideas are flying around, your seemingly random everyday life can inspire the biggest stories. This is because human beings are the ones who read the stories and they are going through similar stuff in their everyday life.

Have you noticed that sometimes the best ideas come in the most unconventional ways? There is nothing wrong with actually writing about a delivery man bringing you a package and your mind is thinking it’s a bomb. If that’s the idea that comes to you then write it. You’d be surprised that many other people are thinking the same things and would totally love to read your thoughts.

When those ideas come, don’t write them off as silly. Just write away!

#WordOfTheDay – Ever heard of Nimbus? This is what it means

Hello Sparkle Writers, we’re bringing you another word today. Our word of the day is ‘Nimbus’ which is pronounced as /nɪmbəs/. It means a luminous cloud or a halo surrounding a supernatural being or a saint.

Nimbus can also mean a large grey rain cloud. Have you seen one before?

These words are similar in meaning to nimbus; Aroma, atmosphere, climate, flavour, halo, karma, mood, aura, note, odour, smell. 

Let’s form a few sentences with this word.

There was nimbus in the sky, flying everywhere. Did you see it?

Fans are inevitably disappointed when the nimbus of glamour about their favourite celebrity turns out to be an illusion.

We’d be glad to see your own sentences, post them in the comment box.

 

#GrammarSeries – This is the difference between critique and criticize

 

Although it is not correct,  we have realized that some people substitute the words ‘critique’ and ‘criticize’ in sentences. Today, we’d explain the difference between these two words.

Critique can be used either as a verb or a noun. As a noun, it refers to a detailed evaluation of something.  To request for this formally you’d have to say, something like this;

Give me your critique.

As a verb, critique is the act of evaluating something in a detailed and honest manner. A critique does not necessarily have to be negative. 

To criticise however means to find fault with or to judge negatively.

Let’s see a few examples;

I asked him to critique my script; I was happy with the feedback. 

Mr King criticizes a lot. It’s not wise to speak to him

We hope this explains it. 

 

 

Your imagination has no limits when you have no critics

Hey Sparkle Writers, what do you think of today’s topic? We absolutely agree!

One thing writers over time have struggled with and present writers still struggle with is critics.

No matter how much we advise, some people may never know how to handle critics well. It’s okay. There’s no hard and fast rule to it anyway.

It is still a struggle for some writers to write their sincere and truest feelings because of the fear of what people will say. There are some people who write beautifully and just before they click publish they either completely delete the post or edit so bad that it doesn’t look like the original because they are not ready to face the comments.

But there’s one place you can write without criticism and restriction- Your Journal.

You don’t need anyone’s approval to keep a journal. You don’t need anyone to mark your ideas as good or important before after you write.

Use your journal to test out your wild ideas. You can shape them into more presentable suggestions when you edit.

But then again, maybe it’s better to be unreasonable.

You’ll never know if you don’t let your thoughts roam aimlessly on paper.

If you do this your blog will not grow

Every blogger wants a responsive, irresistible, if possible, money making blog. However, there are a few things you do that can affect the growth of your blog.

One of them is failing to promote your content WELL. Note that we didn’t just say failing to promote your content. Do you just send broadcast messages to the few contacts on your WhatsApp list and forget about that post? That’s definitely not enough. 

You need to ensure you add sharing buttons to your blog articles and share content at peak times of your audience’s social activity.

You may be wondering why. We’ll tell you.   

Blogging is a very time sensitive work. Don’t just think you can write, publish and share content whenever you want. You must be sensitive to timing to get the optimum engagement. 

Other important things you can do include:

  • Sharing your article on social networking sites with images (to make them more attractive)
  • Sharing content multiple times on social media sites
  • Keeping up with your content by responding to comments etc.
  • Encouraging your blog authors, contributors, team members, friends and family to use their social networks to help share your blog content.

For your blog to grow, you need to be intentional about it. Put in the work and you will see the results. 

#WriterSpotlight – “I think it’s important for us as writers to risk ridicule and bring truth to life.” Tolu Oluwaseyi-Daniel

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Hey Sparkle Writers! It’s time for another #WriterSpotlight. Today we have Tolu Oluwaseyi-Daniel, popularly known as L’Queen. She is an author and blogger and she has some great advice for writers who want to publish books and write stories.

We can’t wait for you to dig in!

Hello, Tolu. Can you please describe yourself in a few words?

Hi, my name is Tolu Oluwaseyi-Daniel, also known as L’Queen. I’m a purpose driven person who loves to be a source of joy and motivation to others. I am a writer, blogger and public speaker.

At what point did you discover that you had a passion for writing and why did you decide to pursue this passion?

I fully discovered my love for writing in 2012, when I started my blog LQUEENWRITES.COM. Although before then I knew it was something I had a flair for. I’d always been inspired by books, every writer I know is a reader.  Growing up, I was surrounded by books. My parents read a lot so that probably birthed my interest. Somewhere along the line, I knew that someday I would have to share my own stories both fiction and nonfiction.

You recently published your book, ‘On the Ride’. Can you tell us what inspired you to write it?

Growing up, I saw a lot of books that addressed issues regarding living life as an adult but there weren’t so many books that related to our experiences as adolescents and young adults. Issues relating to building confidence, overcoming low self-esteem, mood swings, voicing out about abuse, bullying, the use of social media, grooming, utilizing talents and discovering purpose. Aside from my love for teens, I felt there was a need to put the right words to the shadowy corners in the lives of the younger generation so that definitely inspired me to write, On the Ride.

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We know you shared a lot of your personal experiences in the book. Was it easy for you to do this?

I think the true reason why God allows you go through things and survive them is so that your story can reach out to others and give them hope. It wasn’t easy putting myself out there but it was very important for me to share those experiences to help someone that might be encountering similar challenges.

Why is it important for writers to learn how to be vulnerable when they write?

Vulnerability as a writer is one way to make your readers connect with you. It sparks emotional feelings and gives them a more detailed knowledge of you as a person not just for the words written but because they can relate to your own personal experiences. Writing to me is a generous act so I think it’s more important for us as writers to risk ridicule and bring truth to life.

Let’s talk about publishing. What challenges did you face in writing and getting your book published?

One of the major challenges was finding a good publishing house to work with. I called several publishing houses but when it sounded like I wasn’t getting what I wanted from any of them I became a little frustrated. Fortunately, I found Winepress Publishing and they were just in sync with the ideas I had for the book. They did a good job ensuring that the manuscript was well edited.

Many writers find it difficult to finish writing a book and get published. What tips do you have for such writers?

I think the most important thing is to know that there’s a story you must tell, there’s someone out there that your story is meant to reach out to. There would be days when you don’t feel inspired to write but you have to constantly remind yourself that you have to get it done. Have a total word count in mind, have people you are accountable to, set a deadline and stay focused on the goal.

With the right amount of commitment and motivation, one chapter at a time you’ll see your book finished in no time.

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In what ways has your writing grown and evolved since you started writing?

With each article and short story I have written, my writing has greatly evolved. I have learnt to be more descriptive, my vocabulary has expanded and I have gained a better understanding of my audience.

Where do you want writing to take you in the next five years?

Well, my goal right now is to take more writing courses and develop my writing skills much more. I’d like to write more fiction stories and gain more recognition as a writer.

I’d like to explore the world, meet more people and have more experiences to write about.

Most importantly, I want to be that writer that blesses lives with words.

What advice do you have for people who know that they have a message to share but fear keeps holding them back?

Fear would always keep a person under because it limits their capacity to become more. I would encourage such people to rise above fear to a place of courage. The message is always bigger than the messenger so they need to come out of that place of hiding and unabashedly share their stories with the world.

Important writing lessons you need to be reminded of

Hey Sparkle Writers!

We stumbled on this insightful article on Bryan Hutchinson’s website and we just had to share it. It’s about the 17 lessons The Magic Violinist has learnt from writing. 

Most of these lessons resonated well with us and we think you would relate too. There’s so much to glean from it. 

  1. Write for you.

This was the first thing I wrote about for “Positive Writer.” Don’t try to please everybody else. You’ll just make yourself crazy. Write what you love and write for you.

  1. Write every day.

On days with more free time, write pages and pages. On busier days, a few paragraphs. On the extraordinarily busy days, a sentence. That’s all it takes. Just a few taps of a keyboard or scribbles of a pencil every day to stay in the habit.

  1. Don’t compare yourself with others.

Your personal goals are different from the goals of others. Your capabilities, circumstances, habits, all of those things will be different. If you’re over the moon because you finally filled a page but somebody else wrote fifty in that same amount of time, don’t let that get you down. If your accomplishment makes you happy, you did something great.

  1. Try writing in different genres.

You never know what’ll spark your interest. Maybe poetry was never something you thought to try. Write a few stanzas. Who knows? You might have an affinity for it.

  1. If you’re going to procrastinate, use that time wisely.

We all procrastinate. Don’t try to deny it. Some of us may do it more than others (I certainly procrastinate more than I should), but it happens to all of us. When you do procrastinate, though, do something else that’s productive. That means closing Facebook and Twitter and picking up a book or taking the dog for a walk.

  1. Reach out to writers and authors online and in your community.

Find a critique group at a local library or coffee shop. Say hi to that blogger you admire. Writing can be a solitary or even lonely activity, but it definitely doesn’t need to be. The writing community is alive and thriving. Make yourself a part of it.

  1. A critique of your writing is not a critique of you.

Once in a while, a critique of your work can sting a little. Or a lot. Especially if it paints something you thought was amazing in a negative light. The important thing to remember is that just because someone didn’t like something you created doesn’t mean they don’t like you. It also doesn’t necessarily mean you did anything wrong. And it certainly doesn’t mean everything you write will be horrible and you should give up now. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on.

  1. It’s okay to be in a writing slump.

You can’t always write the next bestseller. Sometimes for weeks at a time, everything I put on paper is garbage. I might hate my current work in progress. Nothing I do keeps my interest. All of that is perfectly fine. Just put something on paper. Hate every minute of it, if you must. The only way to get out of the slump is to claw your way out, word by word.

  1. Read, read, read.

Read widely and read often. Read good work and terrible work. Read classics and poetry, but also read children’s books and whatever’s popular. Read something short and something long. Read articles and fan-fiction. Re-read your favourite book. Read something in your genre. Read, read, read, and learn from it.

  1. Your writing will not be loved by everyone.

Don’t send yourself into a never-ending spiral of negativity by trying to please everyone. You won’t. Some people will hate what you write. That’s okay. Don’t some people hate your favourite book? Of course they do, but their dislike of the book doesn’t diminish your love for it. Your writing will be loved by those who need to read it most.

  1. Good work takes time, energy, and multiple drafts.

My best writing has come out of the projects that have been hardest for me to finish. It could take years of effort to complete something work sending out into the world. It won’t always be enjoyable trying to polish something up, but it’s always satisfying to make progress. It’s worth it in the end.

  1. There’s nothing like a little music to get the creative juices flowing.

It doesn’t matter what kind of music so long as it inspires you. The lyrics tell a story. The composition tells a story. Sometimes those stories are the hidden, not-so-obvious ones. Tell those stories.

  1. The best ideas come to you when you’re supposed to be doing something else.

Don’t necessarily take this advice, but reassurance. If you feel like your work is stale and repetitive, don’t worry. A new and interesting idea will come to you eventually. It just might happen while you’re doing the dishes or homework. Make sure you always have pen and paper nearby for those situations.

  1. You will make mistakes, but you’ll learn from them.

I won’t even try to list possible mistakes because there are so many, but you’ll make at least of one those. It won’t be fun, and it might take a while to stop obsessing over it, but you’ll move on and learn how to avoid making that mistake again.

  1. Be on the lookout for opportunities and go after them, even if you think you don’t have a shot.

I got my first regular writing position at twelve. When I applied for the job, I didn’t believe my age would be an issue, because no one had ever told me it could be. Now, I was lucky to have supportive parents who never tried to discourage me, even if they might have thought I was a little young to do what I was trying to do.

If you do have those doubts, whether they stem from yourself or others, try your best to block them out. Apply for internships and enter writing contests. Sometimes your greatest achievements come from those you thought were least likely to happen.

  1. Have other creative outlets besides writing.

It’s important to stay creative and keep thinking like an artist, even if writing is going so well for you in the moment. Have something else you can turn to during those times. Sing, dance, act, draw, knit, sculpt, sew, paint, cook. What interests you?

  1. Your writing is better than you think it is.

We are our own worst critics. Our writing might bore us sometimes because we’ve been working on it for such a long time. The plot twists seem predictable because we came up with them. Our characters aren’t interesting because we have to spend time with them day after day after day. As scary as it can be, sometimes showing your writing to a trusted friend is the best thing you can do for yourself.

You have people in your corner cheering you on, and those people love nothing more than to read what you’ve written and shout from the rooftops about how talented you are. Your work is not as bad as it seems. Take a step back and really look. You created that, and there are so many great things about it.