Categories
Arts Life & Philosophy Writing

Writing helps you seek clarity

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via giphy
  • Change the font
  • Write freehand or on a different device
  • Use prompts to help you get started
  • Sit and think about what you want to say. No computer. No pen and paper.

Because writing requires daily practice, doing it can get boring and predictable. It helps to have a system of hacks to drive the writing habit along the way.

Whether you’re writing a book, a blog post, or in a journal, writing is the most efficient way to purge your thoughts from the darkest and dormant corners of the brain. Writing is like talking to your therapist, a bicep curl that strengthens familiarity with your mind.

“I find that by putting things in writing I can understand them and see them a little more objectively. For words are merely tools and if you use the right ones you can actually put even your life in order.”

Hunter S. Thompson

You don’t have to be a published or aspiring author to write, nor do you have to be a student. Writing is a system for coping with the vicissitudes and celebrations of life.

As David Ogilvy once said, “People who think well, write well.” People who write well think well because it’s hard to clarify thoughts. The writer’s main challenge, therefore, is to find ways to keep on doing it.

Categories
Books Productivity & Work Writing

Steve Hely: ‘Writing a novel is a pain in the ass’

Writing a novel — actually picking the words and filling in paragraphs — is a tremendous pain in the ass. Now that TV’s so good and the Internet is an endless forest of distraction, it’s damn near impossible. That should be taken into account when ranking the all-time greats. Somebody like Charles Dickens, for example, who had nothing better to do except eat mutton and attend public hangings, should get very little credit.

Steve Hely, How I Became a Famous Novelist
Categories
Blogging Productivity & Work Writing

How to set up a blog on WordPress Business

Pro Tip: Before we begin, if you just want to start creating a blog right now, get started with a free site on WordPress and be on your way to publishing in less than five minutes.


If you’re going to use your blog for business, then you should be using the most robust tool that powers 30% of the internet: WordPress.

Like most people, I set up a free blog on WordPress before upgrading to premium. However, I quickly realized that I wanted more advanced tools including unlimited storage to upload as many photos and videos as I wanted, built-in SEO, plus the ability to install third-party plugins like Google Adsense to monetize my site.

So I went all-in on a WordPress Business account and I’m never going back!

Note: If you’re still having doubts about paying money for a blog, especially if you’re just starting out, I would highly recommend you start a WordPress blog for FREE to see if it’s for you. Also, this post may contain affiliate links. Please see the disclosure for more info. 

Create a stunning website

“Everyone should write a blog, every day, even if no one reads it. There’s countless reasons why it’s a good idea and I can’t think of one reason it’s a bad idea.”

Seth Godin

Yes, a business account can be pricey (remember, you can always start with a FREE plan or the inexpensive personal plan on the pricing page) but upgrading is worth every penny. Here’s what you get with WordPress Business.

You get access to all the premium WordPress themes with the plugin customization of a .org account, along with your own custom domain name, site monetization, SEO tools, and simple payments. And if you ever run into difficulty or have any questions, WordPress live support is a chat button away. Seriously, I’ve contacted the priority support team on issues from design, to button creation, to slight tweaks on my sidebar widget to the smallest problems in spacing and the Happiness Engineers almost always have a quick solution. No waiting time!

If you’re SERIOUS about blogging and turning it into a legitimate business, then level up with a WordPress Business account.

Why choose WordPress over Squarespace, Weebly, or others?

I’ve tried all the writing platforms (Squarespace, Blogger, Tumblr, Weebly, Wix, etc.) but none of them were built for handling a ton of blog content. As bloggers, we need quick and easy tools to find and edit hundreds of posts. And there’s no better platform for cataloging all your posts than WordPress. Because us bloggers can get uber-detailed, you can also snag a .blog domain name instead of the usual “.com.”

WordPress also never goes down. It can’t afford to — it powers 30% of the internet! Like Facebook, rest assured that WordPress stays up all day and night so you won’t lose precious visitors or revenue.

Even more, WordPress Business comes with the Jetpack plugin, which among site stats and gallery/slideshow tools, also guarantees your site’s safety so it never gets hacked.

Jetpack also backs up all your content, plugins, and settings automatically with a Business account so you can rest easy. As an additional bonus, Jetpack uses advanced CDN technology to speed up site loading times for image-busy sites like mine. You don’t want people clicking away from your site because an image took too long to load! Video loading is speedy too.

Access to popular third-party plugins

My site is jam-packed with so some awesome plugins. Again, you can only get access to plugins as a WordPress Business account or you can go through the self-hosting route. Here’s a list of plugins I use every day and why:

  • Pretty Links: This plugin shortens your affiliate links to something short and memorable and on-brand. For instance, here is my affiliate marketing link for WordPress as processed through Pretty Links: https://wellsbaum.blog/Wordpress (it originally looked like this: https://wordpress.com/create/?aff=7193). Pretty Links also gives you click stats as well so you know exactly how many people are engaging with your affiliate links.
  • Mailerlite: Mailer Lite is free and an easy to use email software for up to 200 subscribers. It contains automation tools so you can email folks specific content after they opt into your email. You can also set up a pop-up via Mailerlite that prompts folks to sign up for your email.

My other favorite plugins include Ad Inserter for Google Adsense, Paypal Donation Pro, and the Popups Premium Plugin.

Conclusion

WordPress Business is a no-brainer for a professional blogger looking for all the features, especially when it comes to hosting and plugin installations. With WordPress, everything is all in one dashboard. You don’t have to go back and forth between your hosting providers like Bluehost, Namecheap, or GoDaddy if you have any issues. WordPress also offers the chance to monetize your site; you can even run its ads along with Google’s to maximize traffic.

The WordPress post environment is also minimalist and clean so you can ward out distractions while you write your stellar post. Above all, one of the main reasons I joined WordPress.com instead of WordPress.org was to be part of a thriving community of creators and interesting people who also use it. Because your content will appear in the WordPress Reader to make it more discoverable, this community will be the first to become your subscribers, fans, and brand advocates.

Wait no more. If you’re serious about blogging, set up your blog with WordPress Business today. Focus on your content and let WordPress handle the rest.

Click here to build your site today!

How to start a WordPress blog, in 3 steps

A kid at a computer setting up a blog on WordPress Business

1. Register your domain name.

You can click here to purchase a domain name and create a WordPress blog, then proceed in following the steps outlined below.

A picture of a laptop with URL being typed about how to set up a blog on WordPress Business

Think about your own name or brand name you’d like to use for your site. It can be fun, serious, or just catchy and easy to remember. Also think about the domain name (.com, .blog, .church. biz) you want to append to it. I went with .blog as in WellsBaum.blog because I wanted folks to know that I focused on creating interesting content in a blog format. But .COM always works fine as the default, assuming it’s available for the name you choose.

Keep in mind that if you opt for the Personal, Premium or Business plan, your domain name will be free. Again, the best deal is still signing up for a Business just because of all the added value (Google Analytics, max asset storage, install 3rd party plugins) but Premium or Personal may be best if you’re looking for blogging basics. You’ll be billed yearly.

Wordpress pricing and plans for blogs

2. Choose a theme

WordPress has hundreds of themes to choose whatever your blogging goals are. You can choose a theme that focuses on text, text + images/videos, or goes right to a fancy sales page. You can even set your site to a landing page instead of a blogroll if you wish. My recommendation is to pick a clean and visually stunning template so you don’t scare your readers away. After all, content is king!

A pictures of WordPress.com templates for your blog

3. Install Plug-ins

If you register for a business account, now you can install all the additional plugins that will help your blog gain maximum exposure.

  • Pretty Links: This plugin shortens your affiliate links to something short and memorable and on-brand. For instance, here is my affiliate marketing link for WordPress as processed through Pretty Links: https://wellsbaum.blog/Wordpress (it originally looked like this: https://wordpress.com/create/?aff=7193). Pretty Links also gives you click stats as well so you know exactly how many people are engaging with your affiliate links.
  • Mailerlite: Mailer Lite is free and an easy to use email software for up to 200 subscribers. It contains automation tools so you can email folks specific content after they opt into your email. You can also set up a pop-up via Mailerlite that prompts folks to sign up for your email.

My other favorites include Google Adsense, Paypal Donation Pro, and the Popups Premium Plugin.

A screenshot of WordPress plugins
Categories
Funny Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Writing

Streaks

We never stop, continuing a streak of a thousand days.

Each day, rain or shine, we either pop with energy or force it.

Consistency is not neutral.

The exactitude of life requires a sense of urgency. And the daily routine is his space to be creative and thoughtful.

How one navigates the tension between doing and knowing is less important than showing up and doing the work.

The only schedule worth keeping is one that begs for us to do it all over again tomorrow.

Categories
Music Productivity & Work Writing

Want to focus? Seek ambient sound

One of the greatest myths of our time is that silence is golden. But complete silence will keep you from working effectively. It may even put you to sleep.

J. K. Rowling left the solitude of her own home to write the Harry Potter series in a coffee shop amid the cacophony of people chatting over grinding espresso machines.

The noisy environment inspired her to get to work. Studies show that just enough sound creates an ambient environment conducive to working by drowning out any other unpredictable racket in the background.

The power of music

Studies also show that learning to play an instrument makes it easier for children to learn how to read. Additionally, the “Mozart Effect” is said to improve concentration and study habits. Surgeons often use popular music during operations to relax both the patient and themselves. Muzak takes the awkward silence out of the elevator.

The right type of noise is critical to working effectively. In fact, many CEOs expect disruptions in the form of email and calls to ensure the business is actively operating. Silence is the antithesis of productivity.

In order to stay motivated and remain productive, we need perpetual sound rather than peace and quiet. Sound is productive. Rather, it is the silence between the notes that can be the most disruptive.

Categories
Arts Productivity & Work Psychology Writing

There is a time for everything

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gif by John Corsi

The time you spend away from your task still qualifies as work. That includes doing the dishes, running errands, and taking care of the kids—whatever responsibilities you think to impede your central occupation contribute to its success.

British novelist Jon McGregor gives a good example of how he manages his writing despite making time for everything from Tweeting to taking care of his children.

“I rarely manage a whole unbroken day at the desk. And it can be frustrating, sometimes. Once or twice a year I manage to get away somewhere and live like a hermit for a week, eating and sleeping next to a desk and talking to no one and getting a lot of work done. Imagine if I could work like that all the time, I think, then. Think how productive I’d be! But if my life was always like that, I suspect I’d have very little to write about.”

Locking yourself away in isolation is a forlorn attempt to escape all that matters. Patterns can backfire, especially when it comes to creativity which thrives on observation and sudden randomness.

There is a time for everything

While productivity can be messy, time away from work is not squandered time. Instead, it is spent accumulating experiences and visualizing how the ideas you’re chewing on will all come to focus when you sit down in and commit to the day ahead.

The discipline of work is just as necessary as the chaotic daily tasks of life. In fact, the best things in life often disrupt it, forcing you to rethink priorities and see how it all connects.

Contrary to popular opinion, busyness is not a badge of honor. Life seeds all the ideas.

Categories
Culture Life & Philosophy Tech Writing

The promise of internet niches

gif by Jay Sprogell

The promise of the internet was that unfettered access guaranteed a diversity of interests.

At first, it appeared true — the web broke down the masses into a web of niches. The accumulation of distinctiveness created a long tail that when combined outweighed popular trends.

But little by little, those niches turned into popular tribes where everyone started talking about similar things.

The standardization of tastes, political parties, and lifestyles spread like wildfire. Individuality lost out to group-think.

The anarchic mindset requires one to imagine a world not yet in existence. Who would we be without digging deeper and envisioning the non-existent?

Culture attracts sameness. But we can change the default setting. All it takes is reevaluating and encouraging the realm of distinctiveness.

It’s impossible to synchronize all the world’s attention with the nearest click. But life is way more interesting when we instruct ourselves to think different.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Writing

Relaxed while working

The synchronicities tend to happen in our most relaxed moments, not when we’re stressing out about work or life.

Bothersome thoughts place a block on our ability to connect disparate ideas.

Unmoored from the monkey mind, we grant the synapses a passport to freedom.

In a state of flow, nothing is wanting. The pen can hardly keep up with the bicycle of impressions peddling through our heads.

Awake on our passions, always working to a place where we catch onto to things.

Categories
Writing

Everything goes in the queue

The queue is more of a scrapbook than a notebook. It’s a hopper of brain farts and observations brewing in all formats: text, images, video, and sound. It’s…

  • Where ideas get stored and intermix
  • Where content molds and takes shape
  • Where visions incubate until the timing is ripe
  • Where some concepts never the day of light

Your goal is to never let the queue go empty. You should always keep refreshing it with new content to help you sustain your thinking presence. The dull, the interesting, the ephemeral; it all goes into the Tumblr bin to age marvelously.

“I’m not writing it down to remember it later, I’m writing it down to remember it now.

Field Notes

Take copious notes and frequently revisit them. In generating novelty, you’ll always be two steps ahead.

Categories
Books Creativity Quotes Writing

Ta-Nehisi Coates: made for the library, not the classroom

“I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates