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.

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!

‘Keep an honest, unpublishable journal’ – Madeleine L’Engle’s advice to writers is epic!

We’ve seen a lot of advice to writers so you can trust us when we say Madeleine’s advice is epic. It is in three folds and we’d just highlight them properly. 

On keeping an honest journal. 

‘If you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair.’

We totally agree. One of the reasons why we are lacking original content is because everyone is churning out what they think people want to read people or are copying what they see from other writers and as a result, there’s just a bunch of duplicated copies of art, content and truth. It is time writers wrote out their true feelings, the deepest, and most vulnerable. Keeping this journal will help to keep that truth alive.

On why reading is and will always be important

‘You need to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. It’s the great writers who teach us how to write.’ 

As a writer, you must be someone who loves to read. There’s nothing more to add to this. 

On why writing every day is still relevant 

‘The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s for only half an hour — write, write, write.’

Because in the end that’s why you are a writer, to write.

#WordOfTheDay – Find out what inveterate means

 

We love it when we have the opportunity to learn new words. It is even better when we get to share those words with you! It’s time for our #WordOfTheDay on The Sparkle Writer’s Hub.

Today’s word is ‘inveterate’. Inveterate is an adjective that is pronounced /ɪnˈvɛt(ə)rət/. Ever heard of this word? 

It means to have a particular habit, activity, or interest that is long-established and unlikely to change. 

Look at these examples:

Politicians are inveterate liars.

I am an inveterate writer, what about you?

Find ways to use this word in a sentence this week. See you next week when we will have a new word for you.

#GrammarSeries – The difference between burnt and burned

Hey, Sparkle Writers.

Have you ever burned/ burnt a meal before? How did you relay the information? Most people still do not know which is correct. Burned or burnt?

If you read this post till the end, you will find out. 

Burned and burnt are both acceptable past-tense forms of the verb to burn.

While ‘burned’ is more acceptable in the United States, ‘burnt’ is more acceptable in the United Kingdom. 

So for example, you’d say  

Mom burned the cakes (if you are using the American standard)

Mum burnt the cakes (if you are using the British standard)

In addition, the dictionary of Modern English Usage says that the two forms can have slightly different meanings. For example, if you say a house burnt down, that implies it happened quickly, but people are more likely to use burned for something that took a long time like ‘the fire burned for days’. But this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule.

We hope this helps! 

 

Culled from GrammarGirl

 

#WordOfTheDay – Here’s What ‘Propitious’ Means

It’s time to learn a new word on The Sparkle Writer’s Hub!

The word we have for you today is ‘Propitious’.

Propitious is an adjective that is pronounced, /prə-ˈpi-shəs/. Derived from the Latin word, ‘propitius’, it means to be favourably disposed or giving/ indicating a good chance of success.

Here’s how to use ‘Propitious’ in a sentence;

1. Now is a propitious time to start a business.

2. The success of the first big movie in May was a propitious start for the summer season of blockbusters.

We hope you will use this word in a sentence soon. 

What to know before you create a social media page for your blog

Hello Sparkle Writers. Last time, we talked about the difference between getting traffic and building an online community. Since the post was such a hit we figured we would do a sequel on what you need to put in place before you think of building a community. Grab your notepad because there’s so much to learn!

It is a lot of work.

Make no mistake about it. Opening a Facebook page, WhatsApp group or any other social media platform for the sake of growing your online community is a lot of work. If you are not ready to commit to doing ALL it takes, it is better you don’t start. There are too many abandoned pages on social media. Yours should not be part of it.

Your followers won’t increase overnight.

Those popular bloggers with one million views on Youtube have put in several months and sometimes years of work to get to where they are. Do not expect that in three weeks you’d achieve what they have in three years. Your followers will grow, it will just not be overnight.

You need to be consistent.

If you want to post three times a week then do so. Whatever frequency you decide to go with, make sure you follow it diligently. Remember you are managing a page. You can’t afford to go silent on the group and allow members to do what they please.

Giveaways alone don’t cut it.

Don’t misquote us. Giveaways are good, not just good, they are great! But if that is your only strategy to increase your readers then you’ve failed before you even started. Your content is KING and that’s one sure way of gaining loyal followers giveaway or no giveaway. Many people will like your page, follow you on Instagram and share your post because they want to win.  What you post afterwards determines where they’d stay.

We hope this helped!

#WriterSpotlight – “A writer is a prophet sent to minister to the world.” Maryam Afolabi

We love it when we have interviews with writers who remind us how blessed we are to have this skill. Maryam Afolabi is simple yet profound. We love the way she talks about her love for writing and writers. You will love it too. Enjoy our interview with her. 

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

I am a jovial free spirited lady. I love to be around people to share their stories and experience.

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

I’ve always had this passion for reading literary works especially novels since I was young, but I started composing poems when I got to 300 level in college.

Can you tell us what you love most about writing?

 I love the feeling I get when I come back to read some of my works after some time and it made sense.

What is the most important lesson writing has taught you?

Writing has taught me how to lock down my thoughts and experiences in words.

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

I am a fan of many authors but I would really love to meet Tunde Leye and the delectable Chimamanda Adichie.

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

There are times when I get too tired or too busy to write but I’ve never been frustrated to the point of giving up on writing.

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

I find inspiration in many things, from novels, conversations, music, and even from my imaginations. But when I have a theme or topic to write on, it makes it easier for me to focus.

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

My biggest achievement was when my poems and articles were featured in the NYSC magazine.

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

Apart from being a writer, I’m also a reporter so I would like very much to improve my writing and I would love to write and publish books.

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

A writer I believe is a prophet sent to minister to the world, so it’s now left to the individual writer on how they want to utilize their gifts. Therefore writers should be free to express themselves because you can never tell whether what you are withholding is what will change the world for better.

 

 

 

Read this and you’ll never run out of ideas (at least for a while)

We get asked this question a lot of times; “What can I do to never run out of ideas?” We figured that since it is so important to you, we should provide you with the answers you need and help you to be a better writer.

Most writers are scared that if they use up all the ideas they have, they will not get any new one soon. Others are wasting time deciding whether or not to blog because they are not sure whether the idea juice (yep, we formed that word) will keep flowing.

This should not be an issue and we’d show you why.

If you write about what you love you’d never have to search for topics to write about. We are not saying there won’t be days when the ideas may seem to be far away from you but eventually you will get something because you are writing about something you are passionate about. There will always be something new you have learnt or something fresh you experienced. That’s your story idea right there. Write about it. Don’t wait till something ‘big’ comes up before you write. That little thought circling in your head is worth it so put pen to paper and write. There is no big or small idea.

Here are some tips that will help you to keep ideas flowing;

Pay attention

Ideas pass through our noses every day and we don’t SEE them because we are not paying attention. When you read books, you get tonnes of topics to write about but you have never noticed. When you talk to people more ideas which you could write about would have come to you but they didn’t seem important enough. It is time to start paying attention. 

Lower your standards

Before you crucify us, read everything we have to say about this. Don’t try to get everything right the first time. Perfection can sometimes be a barrier to progress. Get the basics down first.  You can worry about the rest and how to fine tune it later. 

Believe in your work.

Stop thinking everyone is better than you. Stop thinking your idea isn’t good enough. Believe in what you write and push to become better. True confidence means pushing boundaries, failing miserably, and having the strength to stand back up again.

Our conclusion is that ideas are all around you; every minute every day? Are you eyes open to see them and are you bold enough to take hold of them and turn them into words?

The difference between getting traffic and building a community

Hey Sparkle Writers! There is something we would love to share with you today and we know you’ll find it very useful. Before we go on, we’d like to ask a question; do you know that there is a difference between building an online community and getting blog traffic? Yes, there is and we will explain the difference. 

Traffic is the amount of views you get either on your blog or on a particular post. These views come from different sources – Google searches, Facebook, Instagram. Every day on your blog, you get will get a varying number of readers. This traffic your blog or a post on your blog gets cannot always be controlled by you. 

There are times people stumble on your blog as a result of a post or a link shared on social media, but they don’t stay or return. You can call them one time visitors. Sometimes, an unrelated search result may have brought them to your blog but they can easily go away after reading that post, especially if there’s nothing compelling enough to keep them coming.

A community, on the other hand, is very different. Your community consists of a group of people whom you have groomed through conscious and concerted efforts. You can build your community through several social media platforms; an email list, a Facebook page, Whatsapp group etc. The people in your community genuinely love you (or at least they love your blog), what you do and have chosen to hang out with you because of what you have to offer.

Remember that since it is a community, you have to interact with the people in your tribe. Don’t expect to get so many people in your email list one month after setting it up. Bloggers who have a large following in their tribe have built it consistently over a long period of time.

Growing a community is not easy but is very rewarding. Give the people in your tribe value. Respond to their comments. Get them involved in your blog one way or the other. This could be either through features, guest posts of even giveaways. 

If you ask us which is more important we’d say growing a community; just because it is long term and the benefits are immeasurable.