Welcome to this edition of Writer’s Tips. I’ve come across a wealth of insightful articles these past few weeks that I’m happy to share here for writers and bloggers. In today’s curated articles there’s a plethora of information on everything from better writing tips, publishing with Apple books news, onlines tools for free, self-hosting vs. WordPress.com, editing tips, and how to get more viewers for Youtube. Also, Harmony Kent has been running a series at The Story Empire with a detailed description on how to load our books on the Amazon platform. Check it out!
Author Meghan Ward is guest writer at the blog of Anne R. Allen sharing a wealth of tips of how to keep the action alive in our writing.
Last, and far from the least, Harmony Kent has a writer’s help series at the Story Empire where you will find all the links to each article in-depth on how to publish on Amazon. Below find the first part of the series:
Today’s post is about sharing – not just sharing on blogs, but sharing from just about any page you come across on the internet and find an article of interest you’d like to share or capture to potentially use in a blog post or social media. The two options I’m going to write about today are the ‘Add Any’ Chrome extension and the ‘Press This’ marker.
I know I’ve written on these topics before, but it’s come to my attention many times through the years that some bloggers are still not aware about how to use these must have tools to capture reblogs and/or any articles from anywhere on the web, as well as to be able to share an article from any page – including articles that don’t offer share buttons on their posts.
Add to Any
Let’s start with the Chrome extension. So what is that? On the top right-hand corner of your computer you will find the 3 vertical dots. If you click on that you will get a drop-down box. Move your mouse over ‘more tools’ and you will see the option to click on ‘extensions’. You will now be offered a list of extensions you can add, and the one you want to click on is the ‘Add to Any’. If by chance you don’t get that option, just type it in the above search bar. Once you’ve downloaded the extension, you will then discover the tiny blue blue icon with a plus sign in the middle, now resting on your top right-hand corner of the page. By clicking on that icon you will get a long drop-down box of social share buttons you can use from anywhere on the internet to share the current page you’re on.
I find myself using the ‘AddAny’ extension multiple times a day on many sites I visit – especially blogs. With the advent of the new Gutenberg editor, which I still haven’t endeavored into switching over to, I have noticed that approximately 40% of the blogs I now visit no longer display a Twitter share button to me. I’ve questioned many of my blogging friends about the missing button, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s me, not their blog that no longer can see a tweet button, and in some cases even a Facebook share button has gone missing.
Enter the ‘AddAny’ extension. With this extension I now have the ability to click on the little blue icon and share that blogpost via the extension to any social media by clicking on. The only drawback I find with using it is that it doesn’t tag the author of the post as it does from clicking that share button directly under a post. So what happens is I have to either remember that blogger’s Twitter handle or hop over to Twitter to obtain their handle. This is a bit of a time suck, but still a great sharing option. I can share to anywhere with this extension whether I choose to add a tag or not, which is a huge help for me when reading articles I wish to share from anywhere. I love to share posts and articles I read to various platforms so this little tool is invaluable for doing so.
To give you an idea of what your top tool bar will look like after you’ve added these extensions, I’ve captured a screenshot of my top tool bar. Notice the ‘press this’ I have there for easy access at top left, for when I want to capture something to reblog. On the top right is the blue ‘addany’ icon for sharing on social media when there are no share buttons offered. And at the very top right are the 3 little dots you can click on to add the extension. (Note: you will have to enlarge the toolbar to see as I couldn’t enlarge the screenshot itself.)
The Press Thistool is another invaluable tool we should all have access to, especially for reblogging someone’s post and there is no reblog button offered under the post. This happens mostly when I’m on self-hosted blogs like my own, where we don’t get an option to add a reblog button (more on this later). This saves a lot of time from having to open a new post in your dashboard, copying a link to a post and having to copy and paste everything over to that post.
When you download the ‘press this’ marklet from your blog’s dashboard in ‘Available Tools’, it will send an icon to your top toolbar for easy access when you’re on any web page and wish to reblog it. You only have to click on the icon and a draft editor will open up with the link to the post you wish to reblog. Once it’s opened you have the option to type whatever you want to the draft and hit save, or just hit save with the link to the post embedded. This will now become a saved draft in you dashboard. You can also hit ‘publish’ right away in that draft box, which I prefer not to do because I’d rather save it and be able to elaborate on it before publishing.
Once you have that link in a blog draft, it’s easy to go back to your drafts and view. Just open the post, click on ‘preview’, then click on the link you’ve saved in that preview. Now the article you wish to share will open up for you on a new page. You can then copy and paste whatever you wish to share from that article back into the drafted post. And voila!
Now that I’ve alerted you to some helpful extensions to make your blogging and sharing life easier when you’re visiting other blogs, I’m also going to introduce you to another valuable plugin you can add to your own blogs to make it easier for visitors to share YOUR posts:
If your blog is a free blog with WordPress – meaning your blog’s URL address ends with ‘.wordpress.com’ then you don’t have the option for plugin add ons, but WordPress made sure they gave you a reblog button as a means for others to share your posts. But for those of us who are self-hosted or on the WordPress business plan, you have the option to add your own plugins. I highly recommend for those bloggers who don’t have the option for bloggers to reshare your work that you add the plugin ‘Add to Any’, which is available to install from your plugin page in your dashboard. You only have to open the page and click in the ‘find new’ search box and it will come up. Now you can add the ‘add any’ plugin and activate it. You can click on the blue ‘plus sign’ on the page and the drop-down box will offer you a multitude of share buttons you can add to your posts. And with that, I’ll now list some of the advantages and disadvantages you will encounter with these new sharing buttons:
Below is a video to demonstrate how to add the ‘Add to Any’ share buttons to your blog:
When someone shares from the ‘add any’ share buttons, the only disadvantage, as I mentioned earlier, is that the writer’s name of the post is not automatically tagged like it is with regular share buttons. So if you want the poster of the blog to be accredited and alerted to the share, the only way is to add their tag name manually – such @ so and so for Twitter. Still, at least a great option to share if you don’t decide to tag.
A great advantage of adding these buttons are that now people can share your posts to more of their social media outlets.
You will be able to add the ‘W’ button – one of the only means of having somewhat of a ‘reblog’ button for self-hosted blogs!
Yes, it’s true! I finallyyyyyy have a sort of reblog button now on my blog!!! So many bloggers have asked through the years why I don’t have a reblog button that has been out of my control until my recent discovery of the ‘addany’ button!
If you look at the end of my post, you will see my ‘follow me’ on social media buttons where you can visit my pages on all offered buttons. Below the ‘follow me’, are the ‘share this’ buttons which will allow you to share my post directly to your social media. BUT NOW . . . look just below those share buttons (I still cannot find a way to keep all buttons together) and you will see my new row of share buttons. Yes, Twitter and FB buttons are an automatic, so I couldn’t delete them, but look what I’ve got now! I’ve added a share to: Gmail, Amazon, Mix,, MeWe, plus the ‘addany’ button for any other social sites I haven’t included but you may want to share to, and most of all, THE W BUTTON! Yes! If any of you aren’t yet using the ‘press this’ method to share a post without share buttons, you NOW have the ability to share my posts by clicking the W (WordPress) button! I’m so excited! All you need to do is click on the W button and fill in the URL to YOUR blog when prompted, and voila, you can open a draft post (you may have to scroll to bottom like I do). The only thing I’d advise is to copy the link to the URL of the post you’re going to reblog or draft before clicking on the ‘W’ button as it does open in a separate window and it doesn’t grab any text without you entering it. So open the draft and paste the URL you wish to reblog inside, title it (you can always change later) and hit save. Now the post will be in your drafted posts and when you’re ready to reblog, just open it, click on preview, then click on that link you’ve saved in post and the original post will open. From there you can copy and paste back in your draft having both posts open to work easily. Then save or post as your heart desires.
I hope you found these tips valuable. If you have any questions about these excellent tools, please leave them below in comments and I’ll do my best to help you with these tools. Is anyone here today using any of these tools?
NOTE: After posting this article, it came to my attention that some were having problems accessing the ‘add to any’. Here is a link to the WordPress instructions for those self-hosted https://wordpress.org/plugins/add-to-any/ .
The video I posted above will demonstrate a visual for you to add from your dashboard plugin page. I’ve also added an easier method to add the ‘Add to Any’ marklet to your toolbar for easy access to share from anywhere. Just click on the link and drag the marker up to your tool bar
For this edition of Writer’s Tips, I came across some informative reads for more free images, an interesting concept – newsletter swap, tips and tools for bloggers, themes for your blog that actually work with Gutenberg, getting paid for writing, and some great additional links for writers. I hope you find them useful.
More sites with free images shared by The BookDesigner
My last Writer’s Tips post for 2018 offers some resourceful sites on bookmarketing, book trailer making, book launching, book editing and Twitter tips for authors – everything bookish! I hope there’s something for everyone here.
How today’s authors are launching their books, on the blog of Anne R. Allen
Do you follow the Bookdesigner? If you’d like to learn about what makes a good book cover, Joel Friedlander, a.k.a. The Bookdesigner has an open invitation for authors to submit their new book cover to be critiqued by him. I’ve learned a lot from him on what elements a cover requires by reading critiques of the books entered, and I’ve entered all of my own over the years. I will add that I tied for nonfiction winning book of the month a few years ago with my book – Words We Carry, and happily settled for the Gold Star for a close second.
This Friday blogshare has some interesting and informative links from the big change coming soon with your WordPress Editor, Joanna Penn talks about writing with dictation, David Gaughran talks about the differences between publishing paperbacks on KDP and Createspace, and an interesting post on memoir writing.
Gutenberg is coming, supposedly at the end of August! Your WordPress editor is about to change!
You may have seen some articles around the internet speaking about the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) law that comes into effect May 25th, 2018. To be quite honest, I’m still trying to grasp all the rules involved with this change and have read quite a few articles about it, which I will share here with you.
This law has to do with the privacy policies used with shared data accumulated by having people sign up to our blogs and websites. The law was written for EU citizens that visit websites and fill out their information to sign up for updates and also just to be able to comment on blogs. The catch is, even if we are not from the EU, as long as we have visitors to our blogs from those countries, we can be held responsible if our privacy policies are not clear. And from what I’ve read, there can be heavy fines for those who do not comply.
I am far from knowing everything as the reading about all this can be quite intensive, but I’ve learned that the bare bones of this is to do two important things: Make sure you have added the GDPR addition clause on any campaign emails you are sending to your readers by email. That way any new subscribers to your blogs and websites will automatically have signed and ticked off the appropriate boxes on the form when they sign up to receive your emails. Make sure you’ve added the new GDPR policy to your existing outgoing campaigns and any new mailouts by inserting it into the form on your provider’s page (I use Mailchimp). Be sure to send out a separate campaign to your current subscribers to allow them to re-confirm they have signed up to receive emails from you.
There is also a WordPress plugin we can add to our blog sites available that will get permissions before bloggers comment on our blogs. For those who are not self-hosted, I should think that WordPress will implement this plugin with their updates, but you should still get some sort of a notification.
I have created a new email campaign that will go out this evening to my subscribers of this blog. I would appreciate that any of you who have previously signed up to receive emails from me will comply by clicking on the ‘update’ button at the bottom of that email, which will enable you to continue receiving posts from me as I will be doing for those same emails I’ll no doubt be receiving in coming days and weeks from many of you.
The buzz is just starting to get more attention on the internet as the compliance date nears into effect. Like I said, I still don’t know the nitty gritty of all of this but I am going to share some very helpful links I came across where tips are offered on how to go about adapting to these changes.
Note: – If you are using Mailchimp, they have a preset form with GDPR compliance request inserted in the post you can send off to your current subscribers. Many popular email services have this ready for their subscriber lists, but it’s up to us to send them out.
Here are some links that will explain GDPR much better than I can:
I think my job is not yet complete after updating my mail out forms and adding the above plugin which should now ask readers to tick off a compliant box before commenting. I have seen a ‘Cookie’ banner pop up on many blogs I follow, regarding the policies used for cookies on a blog. Most of the plugins I’ve read about installing ask for some ‘techie’ tweaks to be done that I have no clue about. If any of you added that policy to your blog, would you be kind enough to share which plugin you used. I have just downloaded this one:
We bloggers all need to work together to help each other to stay informed of what we’re learning about this new law. If we don’t comply the fines are staggering amounts as you will read in the link above – Great up-to-date info for bloggers.
I hope I’ve helped here in some way and if any of you have any knowledge to contribute here, I welcome it in comments. 🙂
Author/editor Jeri Walker has a great post for writers with a complete checklist of what your blog/website should have to make it most efficient for readers to navigate.
#BlogTip: An Author Website Checklist
by Jeri Walker
In the search for potential editing clients, I visit a lot of websites. That effort has culminated as an author website checklist. It never ceases to amaze me how many authors don’t provide a way to get in touch, whether via a contact form or an email address. That’s just the tip of the iceberg though. In this day and age, an appealing and user-friendly website is a must. As an author, you might not be a tech guru, but that’s not an excuse for a lackluster website. I am by no means an expert in web design, but the information provided here can serve to light a fire toward whipping your website into shape.
An Author Website Checklist
This post serves as an author website checklist with helpful links added where appropriate. The five main categories progress from the macro to the micro level to reflect how users typically engage with content. This is not a how-to list. Rather, this list can help pinpoint areas you may need to improve on your author website, whether by learning how to do it yourself or by hiring a webmaster to do it for you. Many pressing issues can be alleviated by starting with a professionally designed theme. Word Bank has used the Nexus theme from Elegant Themes for a couple of years now, and I have been pleased.
At first glance, the visual appeal of the blog appears to complement its intended message. A new visitor can quickly surmise the site’s main focus. This author website checklist for visual presentation includes:
First Impression: How inviting does the site appear? Does it seem too bland or too busy? Does the design fit the your primary genre?
Dates: Is the content consistently dated or undated? Formatted for target country?
Mobile-Friendly: Is the site optimized for viewing on SmartPhone and tablets?
Pop-Ups: If an automatic opt-in box comes up, how distracting is it? Does it appear right away? In what location?
Colors: Are the colors used purposely? Do they complement each other or seem jarring?
Blog Name: What is the blog’s name? Is it different from the URL? Does it feature the author’s name?
Tagline: Does the tagline sufficiently hint at the purpose of the blog and its niche? Is the author’s genre alluded to?
Logo: How memorable is the site’s logo image? Does it have one?
Font Size and Type: Is the typeface large enough and dark enough to easily read? In general, black text on a light background is best for readability.
Theme Width: Is the main post area fairly wide, or is it too narrow?
Background: If an image, is it distracting in any way? Is it solid or transparent?
Landing Page: Does the choice of a dynamic or a static landing page seem appropriate? Is the author’s book(s) featured in a prominent spot?
Sidebar Widgets: Purposeful or distracting? Does the size seem right?
Ads and Affiliate Links: If present, are they relevant? Easy to read? Placed logically?
Organization and Ease of Navigation
The content is laid out in a logical way that anticipates the user’s needs. If appropriate, information can be accessed from more than one location. This author website checklist for organization and ease of navigation includes:
Overall: Does the organization fit reader expectations? Does the content fit the structure? Could plug-ins, widgets, and images be bogging your site down?
Most Recent Post: Is it featured so the reader can easily identify it? If not, could readers get discouraged by trying to locate it from various categories?
Pages: Does each have a clear purpose and complete info? Could any be condensed? As an author website, there should be a page for books, about, contact, and appearances and publications.
Excerpts: Do posts on the main page appear by excerpt only with a “read more” link? Otherwise, a new reader has to scroll through too much information in order to quickly surmise the site.
Follow Buttons: Are social media buttons displayed? Do they open in a new window?
Search Box: Present an accessible? Do searches go quickly or does the site slow down?
Sign-Up Forms: Are email subscription forms in place and in easy to see locations?
Contact Form: Is the form present in the sidebar or a separate page? Does it work?
Sharing Buttons: Is it easy to share the page? Does the author’s Twitter handle show when the user opts to tweet the post or page?
Commenting Ease: How user-friendly is the comment process? Does the user have to sign up for a commenting services, or can comments be made in a commenting section native to the website in question?
Subscribe to Comments: Can commenters receive email notifications to follow the discussion? Is a box automatically checked to subscribe to new blogs posts? Please be aware it’s better practice to let potential new readers check that box rather than setting it to be pre-checked. Continue reading . . .