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Monday, February 24, 2014

I'm Not Minion Material

Sometimes I see people call their followers/fans: minions, tribe, or street teams. Tribe or street team isn't too bad, but minion annoys me. The one I hate the most is when they call their followers 'bitches'.

In what world is that okay? Where I come from we treat the people who love our work or follow us loyally like friends--treasures. They should be esteemed, not relegated to grunts who rise up at the call of their master.

I realize some people use this ploy to be funny but it's always had the opposite effect on me.

Maybe I'm too old. Maybe I lack a funny bone. Well...too old anyway.

Attribution to Gentle Giant

It's all perception, I suppose. If I follow an author, blogger, or artist, it's because I'm an aficionado of their work. Don't treat me like a flying monkey. 

Remember, flying monkeys can poop on your head.

Has a label ever bugged you--even if it was meant in jest?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Old Reader Resurfaces

Let's all bow our heads in remembrance of Google Reader. Nothing else has come close to its simplicity and efficiency.

The mantle was taken up by Old Reader, Google's original reader, but now it too is being revamped so as to earn revenue.

Old Reader is charging for anything over 100 blog subscriptions. The fee is pretty reasonable, but I still hate the idea of paying.

I use Feedly as my main reader, but I like Old Reader for reading blogs on my smart phone. Since Old Reader will suspend service for anything over a hundred blog feeds, I decided to do some serious demolition work.

I had over 900 blog feeds on Old Reader and I hacked away until there were only fifty. Who was left?

Mostly friends' blogs, and blogs that contained useful information that was presented in a casual conversational tone.

I spent hours deciding who would stay and who would go. In the end, it all depended on how human they sounded. I was surprised how important that was to me.

People who ranted, whined, or were long-winded were deleted immediately. If I'm reading on my phone it's because I'm away from home, waiting for my turn in a queue. I don't want to be bored or annoyed on top of being inconvenienced.

It was such a relief to chip away all those excess blogs, I might use next Sunday to delete blogs from Feedly too. 

Before I deleted anyone, I scrolled through a list of a dozen+ posts for each blog. If most of their headlines started with "Release", "Queries", or "Buy My Book", I deleted them. It was tedious, but I didn't want to delete anyone just for having two or three bad posts in a row. You can't be sparkly every time.

Do you use a reader for your blog feeds? Are you happy with it? I've never been able to load Feedly on my phone without adding blogs manually--and I'm not going to do that!

Monday, February 17, 2014

We're Getting Closer

BBQ, pushy as always

Lucy, 4 months pregnant
This time next month, (God-willing) we should have baby goats. The girls are filling out fast. Even their udders are expanding. The term, I learned is called, bagging.

I want very much to milk them, (I have visions of cheese making) but not before I know the babies have had their fill. I could bottle feed them, but I don't think I want that much extra work.

I am terribly nervous about the upcoming births. I belong to an online goat group and to hear them talk, all kinds of terrible things can happen.

We've been lucky. The only casualty in our goat operation has been me. Last week, BBQ got me again. He was in a smaller pen while we trimmed the girls' hooves. As I walked by, I noticed there was an empty bucket in his pen and I wanted to pull it out before he trampled on it. 

He was at the far end looking away from me. The little pail was within easy reach, so I slipped my hand past the slats on the gate. That cranky, old goat did a 180 and smashed my hand against the gate panel before I could pull it out. I thought he had broken my hand!

Thankfully, it was just a bruise. My hand was small enough that when he smashed it, it collapsed into the grooves of the slatted panel protecting me from any further damage.

I can't win with that goat! No other animal in my lifetime has given me so much grief.

The Other Home Front: Preparing the other house to sell is going slowly. We got most of the big things done, but there are still so many little things to do and we can't seem to make headway.

I'm a big worrier and this has been weighing heavily on my mind. You feel so helpless when you can't physically go out there to get the job done. 

I'll be glad when we can put the house up for sale. That'll be another millstone off my neck.

Marketing Notes: For those of you interested in doing your own newsletters, I read something interesting the other day. The blogger suggested not wasting space on greetings or other fluff because the majority of people won't read it. 

That made sense to me and it's advice I plan to follow. I noticed when I peruse newsletters, I never read the fluff. I scan for items that might interest me and read only those things.  If the newsletter has some good articles, I save it to a subfolder in my email box. Otherwise, it gets deleted as soon as it's read.

For those of you who get newsletters: Do you scan them briefly or read them end to end?

*** is anyone taking side bets on whether I'll survive Greg's retirement? I'm wondering if I should lay odds. 

How about BBQ? The odds are better I won't survive him. Grumpy goat!

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Newsletter...Someday

If you don't know this about me already--News Flash--I'm a cross between Martha Stewart and Sheldon Cooper when it comes to how I do things.

Ask Greg. I don't do anything without exhaustive research and experimentation. And I never do reveals until I'm satisfied with the end result.

February saw me bite the bullet and I decided to design a newsletter for Book Cover Diva. I finished a dummy of the first newsletter yesterday, but I'm still tweaking it, trying to make it as lean and useful as I can.

But even then I won't release it for a while. Before it goes live, I want to write my columns for the next year. This way I'll always have good content without worrying about what I'm going to write about for the next issue.

I'm also designing a few freebies for anyone who signs up. I'm still brainstorming what other kind of giveaways I can do for later too. I'd like to plan all the details far in advance so I'm not doing a headless chicken dance later.

All this comes about after years of receiving countless newsletters, giving me the luxury of seeing what worked and what didn't about each of them.

Since this is a vehicle to promote my business, it's going to be less about showing off and more about giving an insight into the nuts and bolts of good design.

I think the content will be the real selling point. My mantra is to make it interesting and short.

And just to put it out there, I'm using Mail Chimp as the delivery system. But honestly, I don't find their web site all that intuitive. It's been a slow learning process. I'm still trying to figure out where the newsletter widget is hiding. I heard they did a recent remodel and moved some task tabs around.

Once I get the first one out there, I know the whole process will become second nature, but right now, I'm hunting and clicking all sorts of buttons. I wish they offered clearer instructions. (That's the Sheldon part of me coming out.)

If I were to predict the newsletter's official release, I'm going to say April. I like the idea of spring and and new beginnings.

Do you do a newsletter? Do you use Mail Chimp? 

I'll be brave and say I think you're going to like this newsletter. I'm designing it as if I were the recipient, filling it with tips and ideas authors might find useful.

Come April, you'll have to tell me if I did all right.

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Productive Weekend All Around

On the home front, we prepared for another cold snap. I wish Canada wasn't quite so generous with their winter weather. I'm not complaining. They have it far worse, but it's a lot of work for me to drain the water lines and water all the animals by bucket. At least Greg was here to help me before he left. 

Over the weekend, we made a little pocket money too. I put a Craigslist ad for the Marans chickens and sold almost all of them. We still have 5 roosters left, so they'll be going in the pot. And at the last minute I decided to keep two of the hens.

We had a lot of calls and the hens went fast! I think posting a picture of the dark brown eggs that a couple of them are already laying did the trick. 

I don't run Craigslist ads unless Greg is home just to be on the safe side. You never know what to expect. But mostly we ran into people like us, retired and doing a little homesteading on the side. It was nice to talk shop and compare notes. 

We got a lot of clean up and repairs done on the property so it was a pretty productive weekend. 

I think most people in the US were watching the Superbowl, but I'm not a sports fan, so I don't have a clue what went on Sunday. The only thing I look forward to are the commercials. Budweiser almost always hits its mark, but this year Kia and Jaguar produced some spectacular commercials too.

How was your weekend? Did you do anything interesting?