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GCU Community Newsletter – April 28, 2011

April 28, 2011


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Issue #2

IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Welcome to the latest edition of the GCU Community Newsletter. Because our inaugural edition proved so popular, we’ve decided to bring it to you every week (on a Thursday because… well… um… because it’s Thursday).

We had a busy week. Our Nuts & Bolts feature about GCU storefront design stirred things up. Rycky Creations was in our Design Spotlight with a touching story about Hope for Cancer. Our guest blogger, Tom Rent, talked about the importance of your artist profile. And Doreen’s regular A Dash of Inspiration – A Cup of Creativity column gave us fantasy themed brushes and a Photoshop manipulation tutorial.

Thanks to everyone who continues to participate by leaving comments, having conversations with fellow artists, and contributing to our community blog, not to mention passing the love around. Keep up the good work!

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Five Steps to Writing a Blog That Get Noticed

In the world of blogging, content is king.

What you choose to write about in your blog and how well you write it will determine how much attention it receives from the rest of the world. If you promote yourself and your greeting cards by using a blog to showcase your work, you’ll need to do it the smart way.

Hidden Gems: Mothers Day - May 8 - Eugenia Bacon

Keep in mind, the more people you entice to visit your blog, the more people will potentially click one or more of your greeting card links, the more traffic you’ll attract to your cards at Greeting Card Universe, the more sales you make. The equation is simple: Interesting blog = traffic = sales. This is true whether you’re writing a blog or a Squidoo lens.

Here are five step that will help you achieve that winning equation.

One – Determine Your Audience: Who are you trying to attract with your blog? If you say “shoppers!” then nope, sorry, that’s not the right answer. You need to look at things from another angle. What you want to do is turn visitors into shoppers. You attract visitors by writing a blog that contains the content they want to read. You give them an opportunity to click on card links IN ADDITION TO your main content. So the first thing you need to do is figure out the theme of your blog, which is going to determine your audience.

Two – Figure Out Your Theme: What are you going to write about? We’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth repeating – write about what you know. Are you into hiking? Write about the walking trails you’ve visited and what you experienced there. Love dogs? Write about your pooch’s adventures. Enjoy gardening? Give tips and talk about your favorite plants. Are you an illustrator? Talk about your inspiration, how you create your designs, what gets you going. The point is, use a subject you’re passionate about as a jumping off point, and tie your greeting cards into that theme.

Three – Write the Right Way: You don’t need a degree in journalism or creative writing to run a blog. You DO need the ability to tell a story. And you also need to write without a lot of grammar and/or spelling mistakes. Whether educational or entertaining, a post should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Make your point. Share your thoughts or opinions. Be concise. Tell anecdotes and personal details to give a human face to your blog. Be original. Choose an attractive title. Then go over your work with your most critical eye. If you were a reader, what impression would the blog post make on you?

Four – Have Fun: Once you pick a theme you love, run with it! The more fun you have, the better you’ll write, the more motivated you’ll become, and the more your audience will enjoy your enthusiasm. Try not to struggle too much, especially in the beginning. As you continue writing, you’ll get better at it – trust me.

Five – Be Patient: This will be difficult, I know, but getting a readership takes time. There are things you can do to promote your blog (we’ll get into that another time). Just don’t expect to make one post and have thousands of people flocking to your doorstep. Consistent posting with attractive content is the key.

While this is a Squidoo lens, not a blog, I wanted to bring up Sher’s Photography Tips for the Beginner as an excellent example of how to integrate GCU greeting cards into your main content. Go have a look and you’ll see content + promotion in action. Way to go, Sher! Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

For a very good guide to writing blog posts, check out How to Craft a Blog Post: 10 Crucial Points to Pause.

Next time on Time to Blog, we’ll talk about the importance of commenting on other blogs, and how it can lead to more attention for your own blog.

Each artist who writes a new blog post or Squidoo lens containing at least 3 links to greeting cards at GCU will be entered in a random drawing for a fantastic book Art Escapes: Daily Exercises and Inspirations for Discovering Greater Creativity and Artistic Confidence (Dory Kanter). “This title for both beginning and experienced artists gives readers ideas for building an art habit. It contains daily projects for drawing, watercolour, mixed media, collage and more. It aims to help readers increase their skill and creativity and find time to make a little bit of art every day.” Simply make your post on or before May 8th, then leave a comment on this blog (or get in touch by email).

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The title of your blog posts is vital. Not only is it your first (and best) tool for initially “hooking” a reader’s interest, it also weights heavily in search engine algorithms that determine your page ranking. Always include a title on every blog post. Don’t think it’s important? Do a Google search for “untitled document.” That’s right, millions of pages. How’d you like your blog to be one of them? I didn’t think so. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you come up with great titles that compliment your blog (and get results).

  • Don’t stuff your title with keywords. It’s not only ineffective at attracting readers, such blatant tactics won’t get

    Hidden Gems: Mothers Day- May 8 -Pattiann Malynn

    you far with search engines, either.

  • Do figure out the key points in your blog post. For example, if you’re writing about going to the zoo to photograph the new penguin habitat, your key points are likely “photographing” and “penguins.” Since the first words in your title are deemed the most important by search engines, a title like “Photographing Penguins at the Zoo” will be more effective than “Fun Day with Flightless Birds.”
  • Don’t be deceptive. If you give your post a provocative title like “10 Seduction Techniques that Work on Women” and proceed to write about baking cookies, your blog will earn a high bounce rate – meaning people are drawn to your site but leave immediately because it isn’t what they’re searching for.
  • Do make your titles easy to read and comprehend. Puzzling your potential audience doesn’t make them intrigued; it’s more likely to prevent them from visiting you at all.

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Announcing the GCU All-Star Awards!
You see that happy star over on the right? The one I’ve been teasing you about? Finally, I can tell you the news a little bit earlier than planned.

That’s just one of several award badges we’re going to be giving to the GCU Community artists to proudly display on their blogs and websites (including Squidoo lenses) that they use to promote their work at Greeting Card Universe. How many awards and what do you have to do to earn them? Ah, we’re keeping the answer to that one under our hat. Rest assured we’ll be giving all our “all-stars” their awards as they continue to do cool things to help themselves as well as the community.

Our first batch of All-Stars is:Bright, Doreen, Cindy, Elizabeth, Judy, Peggy, Tora, Robin, Janet Lee, Maryann,

Hidden Gems: Mothers Day - May 8 - Sandra Rose Designs

Moonie, Roseanne, and Sun at Night! Please join me in congratulating our winners! (If you win an All-Star award but don’t receive it in your email, please check your spam folder; if you still don’t have it, contact us).

2011 Reminder Time: Since search engines can take up to 6 months to index new content, you should be working on this year’s cards ahead of time for the following holidays:

  • August 1 – Ramadan
  • September 5 – Labor Day
  • September 11 – Grandparents Day
  • September 11 – Patriot Day
  • September 29 – Rosh Hashana

We Need You!: If you’ve got a blog, a website, a Squidoo lens, or a YouTube video promoting your cards at GCU, or a Facebook or a Twitter account that you use, we want to hear from you! To join the roll calls here, leave a comment or send an email to gcucommunity (at) bigdates.com. We update the roll calls daily, so you’ll never be absent for long. Do you have suggestions? Features you’d like to see added? Tips you want to share? Send them in!

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The next issue of the GCU Community Newsletter will be Thursday, May 5

32 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2011 11:20 am

    Thanks for the newsletter CK. I love getting it my email! Yes, I am looking for Twitter followers as well as artists to follow. Click me up at http://www.twitter.com/comicalcaptions .

    Congrats to all the All Stars.

    TOM

    • April 28, 2011 1:17 pm

      Thanks, Tom. We’ve added you to the Twitter roll, so artists can easily find you to follow.

      Corrie

  2. April 28, 2011 11:51 am

    Congrats to all the all-stars. 🙂

  3. April 28, 2011 12:16 pm

    Thanks very much for the inclusion with the “all-stars”! I think that this new initiative with the newsletters has really invigorated us and that can only lead to an improvement in quality.

    Rosanne

  4. April 28, 2011 2:25 pm

    What a nice surprise to wake up to! Thank you for my “all star” – it’s displayed now (with a link back) on my Blog. In next week’s blog update, I’ll include an actual blurb about it too.

    Question for Corrie: can you give us a direct link to the all-star award blogs? I want to be sure I’m following them and commenting on them!

    Facebook for Corrie’s FB Roll: http://facebook.com/DogBreedz

    THANK YOU! and Congrats to all the other inaugral all-stars!

    • April 28, 2011 3:51 pm

      Peggy, I’ll make All-Star announcements here on this blog as they come up. I think if recipients want to make a blog post about their win on their own blog, they should feel free to post a link here so other artists can cruise over and leave their congrats in a comment. How’s that?

      And I’ll add you to the roll, no problem. Thanks!

      Corrie

  5. April 28, 2011 2:35 pm

    Thank you for a new newsletter and THANK YOU for giving me an ALL STAR I have proudly posted it on my blog with a link to GCU Community 🙂

  6. Maryann permalink
    April 28, 2011 2:45 pm

    Thank you so much for the All-star badge. It shall be displayed (well it’s already on my blog!) with much pride and honor!
    Have a great day.

  7. April 28, 2011 5:09 pm

    I’m excited and very appreciative to get one of the first All-Star badges…Congratulations to my fellow winners! Thanks, Corrie, for starting the GCU newsletter. So far, I’m very impressed with your efforts (as well as all our fellow artist’s contributions). I’m sure it’s a lot of work, but you’re doing a great job and we really appreciate it!

  8. April 28, 2011 6:17 pm

    It was a lovely surprise to get an email with ‘you won’ and to find that it wasn’t Spam – thank you! And congratulations to all the other ‘stars’.

    I’m not sure how to make a link on the star on my blog, so if anyone could let me know, I’d be very grateful. Tora, I see that you’ve succeeded so maybe you could let me in on the secret?

    For the various ‘rolls’, here’s my facebook ‘like’ page, though not much seems to happen there:

    http://www.facebook.com/JudyAdamsonsArt

    And if anyone wants to follow me on Twitter, I’m @JudyAdamson

    Also, the blog I mainly use for promotion is:

    http://mugsmousepadsandmore.blogspot.com/ and I’ll be using it to promote GCU much more now that I know how to link to a whole search page of my store!

    • April 28, 2011 6:28 pm

      Added you to FB and Twitter rolls ,and also changed your blog link to the one above. We look forward to seeing how you promote GCU cards on your blog.

      I know how to add the star with link to the WordPress sidebar, but I have no idea how to do it in Blogspot. *scratching head* Maybe you put the HTML code in the “About” section in the sidebar?

      Corrie

      • April 28, 2011 9:53 pm

        First of all, thank you for including me, too! What an honor! 🙂 Second, I just got through adding the star to my blogspot blog. They won’t allow you to add an image to the “about” section (I tried that first), then found that you have to go to edit your “Design” section and then “Add a gadget” where you just scroll down till you see “Picture” and then click the ‘+’ to add it (you can then drag the picture gadget anyplace in that section). A pop-up form pops up (lol) and you just enter the details. 🙂 Hope that helps.

        CindyJ

      • April 28, 2011 11:05 pm

        Hi Corrie – I’ve just remembered, every so often I do a blog post featuring GCU artists who use traditional painting methods and I do that on my Art & Design blog as that one gets a lot more ‘page views’.

      • April 29, 2011 6:02 am

        I can add your second blog to the blog roll, no problem.

        Corrie

    • April 28, 2011 9:55 pm

      Oops! I posted the blogspot info to Corrie’s post below. 😀

      CindyJ

      • April 28, 2011 9:57 pm

        I mean Corrie’s post above. lol.

      • April 28, 2011 10:44 pm

        Thanks for the instructions, Cindy 🙂

        I’ve put the award on both of my blogs, hoping that it doesn’t look as if I’ve got 2 awards!

      • April 29, 2011 6:02 am

        Nope, that’s cool – you use both blogs for promotion.

        Corrie

  9. April 28, 2011 9:35 pm

    Great…looking forward to next thursday! It’s a good way to keep track of the days…it’s soo easy to loose track of time when we are creating…

  10. April 28, 2011 9:38 pm

    Thank you for my All Star Award. What a nice surprise and honor!

    My problem is linking the Award image on Squidoo. I’m not very good when it comes to HTML or whatever I need to do.

    thanks again,
    elizabeth

    • April 29, 2011 6:01 am

      Oh, that’s easy, Elizabeth… you’ll need a text module (either an existing one, or a new one placed wherever you want the star to appear). When you EDIT the text module, at the bottom you’ll see People Like Pictures. BROWSE your computer and find the GCU Community All-Star I sent you. In the box that says LINK, put the blog URL (http://gcucommunity.com). UPLOAD photo. That’s it! You’re done! And no HTML knowledge required.

      Corrie

  11. April 28, 2011 10:48 pm

    GREAT newsletter!! THANK YOU for the Star!! I did not receive mine, but as soon as I do, I’ll post it proudly!

    • April 29, 2011 5:03 am

      Hi Doreen,

      I did not find it either until I opened up the blog post in a browser.

      Cheers,

      Rosanne

    • April 29, 2011 5:56 am

      Sorry, Doreen… not sure what went wrong there. I’ve sent your star to you attached to an email; if you still don’t get it, I’ll think of something else.

      Corrie

      • April 29, 2011 6:45 am

        Hi Corrie,

        I did not get a star attached to my email either. I saw it on the newsletter page only. Is that correct?

        Cheers,

        Rosanne

      • April 29, 2011 2:37 pm

        Thank you Rosanne and Corrie! I got the email Corrie, thank you so much!

  12. April 28, 2011 10:50 pm

    Let me be the first NON-all star to congratulate you on such a fine newsletter! Enjoyed reading it 🙂

  13. April 29, 2011 12:49 pm

    Hi Corrie. Kudos to you and GCU…. AWESOME NEWSLETTER! This is perfect for me and I love that I get the email when a new letter is posted. Some days I’m so busy as a full time Artist I forget to eat and enjoy the other positives that come with this career and 15 hour days. lol!. This as been a huge learning curve for this self taught Artist / Photographer from every angle from learning to use my camera, learning to use a computer and learning to design my greeting cards. Thank you for all of the information you are giving to all of us. More to absorb and learn made a bit easier! September 25, 2008 I joined GCU with a challenge to myself to have 20,000 cards in my SmudgeArt Card Shop by my 3rd year anniversary here. I AM PROUD

  14. Sue Baumgardner permalink
    April 29, 2011 1:29 pm

    How exciting! Corrie, this is simply a fantastic idea! Thank you so much for something that is open to all of us at GCU and something that we will find of value (like Doreen’s many efforts) as artists and as people in sales.
    Congratulations to all the All-Stars this week.
    Cheers!
    Sue

  15. Carole Barkett permalink
    April 29, 2011 6:33 pm

    I hope I’ve read this right that I can add my addresses to enter the contest. It sounds like a great book
    and thank you for the opportunity
    twitter account – countrymousestu
    my blog – http://countrymousestudio.blogspot.com/
    lens at squidoo – http://www.squidoo.com/wonderful-owls

    • April 29, 2011 8:11 pm

      Carole, since your Squidoo lens contains the required links to cards at GCU, you’re eligible for the contest and I’ll go ahead and enter you into the drawing. Have you ever considered linking to GCU cards on your blog? By using the Sell This Card link on other artists’ cards, you could potentially earn yourself a commission on sales to new customers.

      Corrie

  16. April 30, 2011 12:18 pm

    Congrats to all the Stars, well deserved!
    And Corrie, many thanks for setting this up. Also thanks to the present and future guest writers, I enjoy reading the newsletters and the useful tips!

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