How to make us worship you, and like it!

Sometimes bloggers make it difficult for me to fan-club them like the rock-stars they are.  Here are 8 ways you can make it easy on me– the reader.  For each point, I’ve included an example of a blogger who tackles the common problem with uncommon skill, and a couple quick tips on how to improve in that category.

As the writer, the follies of the reader are your responsibility.

Hopefully these tips help you build your much-deserved fan base.

1.  Make sure your bite-sized view makes sense.

Are you a hamburger or a cupcake, little one?
Are you a hamburger or a cupcake, little one?

It’s cool that you’re participating in the _________ challenge, but unless that information will compel me to read your post, it probably shouldn’t be the vanguard of your ideas.  You see, on my reader, I only see your title and first few sentences. If there’s no real content, a bad title, or if it just doesn’t make sense, I’ll probably wait to read it until later. Hopefully I remember…

If the first sentence contains a warning to stay away from the post because it’s uninteresting, I will trust in your judgement and avoid it.

If you think this changes just because some people subscribe by email, think again! The average person spends only seconds on each email before deciding whether to continue reading, or to continue checking emails. You still only have a title and a few sentences to sell me.

If you think it changes because people visit your blog directly, it probably doesn’t.  Firstly, statistically, that’s the least likely way someone will read your blog.  Secondly, many templates, like mine, only feature a small portion of the post.  So even if your guest does come through the front door, you still have to be convincing in a few sentences or less.  No getting away from it, I’m afraid.

Some ideas on making it better:

  • Make your titles interesting– catchy, informative, straight to the point. or whatever you want– but interesting!
  • Set the tone with your first sentence. You don’t have to outright tell me what your post is about or why I should read it (even though that’s helpful)– but you should, at the very least, give me an idea of what I should expect.
  • Put a featured picture on your post.  Pictures are pretty.

Blogger who does it right:

  • Beadstork launches each post with a thoughtful, concise title that I can never seem to pass on.  Her first sentences set the tone, and tells you what to expect without giving away the punchline.

2.  Don’t hide your posts.

True, Tolkien, but you know what wanderers and lost people have in common? They aren't reading posts, liking, or leaving comments.
True, Tolkien, but you know what wanderers and lost people have in common? They aren’t reading posts, liking, or leaving comments.

Some of my all-time-favorite blogs on here make it really hard for me to find new content. Every single time I type their blog name into my browser, I stare at the screen for at least a minute trying to figure out what to click in order to see if anything new has been posted. If I didn’t absolutely love these bloggers, I really wouldn’t bother.

Not all people get to your site via the Reader, or by typing your blog in directly. When you like a post, I get a little email listing your top 3 links. When I click on the link, I get taken to a page on your site that might be months old. Make sure I know how to get back from there!

Some ideas on making it better:

  • Create categories.
  • Use the “recent posts” widget, or “top posts”, or anything to tell me where to go.
  • Put together a page telling me where to go.

Blogger who does it right:

  • RabbitCanCook  keeps a super organized category list where new posts are in your face and old posts are easy to find.  She integrates her style and topic of choice with catchy names for those sections, like “Menu”.

3.  Make sure your site works on a smart phone.

Why are there even templates that don’t have this functionality at all?

4. Link your Gravatar profile appropriately.

Imagine this:  You are kind enough to stop by and say hey, reminding me that I should check your blog to see if you’ve updated it since last time. I click on your lovely face, and poof– no gravatar page. Or, there’s no link to your blog from there. I want to reciprocate, but there’s no way to do so at the moment. I make a mental note to do so later, but you know what they say about tomorrow…

Some ideas on making it better:

  • Fill out your entire Gravatar profile with pictures and words.
  • Make sure there are several links to your blog from there.

Blogger who does it right:

5. Be present even when you are not.

Source: http://xkcd.com/256/ (This is the best map in the universe!)
Source: http://xkcd.com/256/ (This is the best map in the universe!)

Sometimes you post every day, sometimes not at all for a month.  That’s not great as far as generating a consistent audience, but it’s not awful.  However, an absence over two weeks is awkward.  (In internet years, 2 weeks is like 4 years.)  At least put a little note saying that you haven’t gone the land of Disappeared Bloggers.  We love you, and we’ll wait for you if you tell us to.

Some ideas on making it better:

  • Use the text widget for updates if you don’t want to dedicate a whole post to your vacation.
  • Or hey, dedicate a whole post to your absence. That’s okay, too.

Blogger who does it right:

  • TheGeekAnthropologist sometimes has to go away, but she leaves us a geek-themed message to let us know we have to survive without her for a bit.

6. Make it easy on my eyes.

I run across a lot of posts that are nearly impossible to read.  The text is all clumped together, the entire thing is capitalized or italicized, or filled with bold and underlined text.  When you use that much emphasis, nothing is emphasized.  Sometimes people don’t put spaces between ideas or paragraphs.  Sometimes there is no distinction at all between list items or thoughts.  Every once in awhile, I run across the tiniest font in the universe.

Some ideas on making it better:

  • Break up your posts with images and titles.
  • Use different font sizes and colors to point my attention where it needs to be.
  • Emphasize only what requires emphasis.

Blogger who does it right:

  • Sass & Balderdash writes posts on the long-side, but I never hesitate to read them all the way through because they are sprinkled with bold texts, lovely headers, and tone-appropriate pictures.  I skim them for the highlights to see if the tone fits my attitude of the moment, and if it does, I dig right in.

7. Don’t distract me!

Does this look like a woman who doesn't know what she's talking about?
Does this look like a woman who doesn’t know what she’s talking about?

Pin it! Click to Wikipedia! Stumble this! Rate my post! Rate the comments of my post! Like me on Facebook! Like me more on Twitter! Leave a comment! Your side bar has an animated gif, your header dances, and look, there’s a zebra!

With all that happening, I might not even get all the way through your post.  I admit it, I am easily distracted.  I love you, but with all that noise, I’m not sure what you most want me to do and so I do nothing.  Every square inch of your blog is great real estate.  If something is taking up a plot of land, and is not adding to your blog, then it is taking away.

Some ideas on making it better:

To make my point here, I’m going to corrupt two of Coco Chanel’s most famous tips.  Widgets are like dresses, and having a blog is like accessorizing– right?

“If you’re using widgets well, you’ll notice the widget. If you’re using widgets excellently, you’ll notice the blog.”

“Every morning before you publish your post, or add something to your blog, give it a good hard look– and then take one thing away.”

Blogger who does it right:

  • TheGoodGreatsby has one of my favorite sidebars.  In 5 seconds, it tells you everything you need to know about the style of his blogging and gives you clear direction.  The best part is how he accomplished that without any fancy tricks– just well-chosen words and options.

8. Don’t just say you want me, show me.

Is this you?  Your follow button is unable to be found on your actual blog. You’re using a template that doesn’t show the “follow” button at the top, either. You don’t allow likes. Comments are closed, captcha’d or moderated.

I’ll be honest– after leaving a comment that may not be accepted, I will probably not leave another that day, or even read anything else on your blog till I’m sure you’re even alive on the other side.  If there’s CAPTCHA, I won’t leave a comment at all.  Just today, I found 3 awesome blogs that I just couldn’t figure out how to follow, so I left them.  And when I can’t leave a quick “like” on your post, to show I love you and read the post– it bums me out.

Some ideas on making it better:

  • End your posts with a question.
  • Make your “follow” button one of your foremost widgets.
  • Open up likes.
  • Don’t moderate your comments.

Blogger to imitate:

  • If you don’t see TheOtherCourtney’s follow button, you need glasses!  All her posts welcome discussion and comments are clearly appreciated.

I’m always looking for other bloggers who do these things fabulously, so if you know of one– tell me! If you are one– remind me!  Is there any other things bloggers do that make it difficult for you to be their all time greatest fan? Is there anything I can do here to make it easier on you, my best beloved reader?

91 Comments

  1. Good tips Rara. I went through so many ‘looks’. I know it’s still a bit crowded but I’m in the ‘how’ phase of tidying up. This may prompt me to sort it out.
    A good tip I got to do with writing was to cut it’s head off! Bit like the Coco point. We often ‘write ourselves in’ to a post, warming up with the first bit. So once we’re done it can often be removed without losing any sense. Keeps is shorter and punchier. Unlike this comment 😉
    (p.s. Your greatsby link is spannered! 😉 )

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    1. Thanks for reading! 😀 I’m always struggling with the “cut it shorter” system. I’m pretty proud that I took the lead in of this post from 2 paragraphs down to just a few sentences, haha! 🙂 Trying to keep this blog from getting crowded is something I’m always working on… still haven’t quite gotten it all worked out to my liking, but it’s coming closer– so I feel your pain. At least we’re headed in the right direction! (Thanks for the tip on the Greatsby linked, it’s all fixed now! :))

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      1. Thanks for the tips – fixed my gravatar, twiddled some menu’s, changed comment handling.
        I’d suggest you try some of my tips, but they’re more likely to get you arrested than followed 😉

        Like

  2. I don’t know about being fabulous at blogging, but I certainly try 🙂

    One thing (and this is a pet peeve of mine) that I would add is this: If you post a recipe, please include a damned picture so that your reader knows what it’s supposed to look like! I want to know what the dish looks like because 1: Most people eat initially with their eyes and 2: How do we know we got it right if we don’t have anything to go on?

    By the way: I may not always comment, but I love your quirky style 🙂

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    1. You absolutely are fabulous, I promise. 🙂 Yes, absolutely, recipes need pictures– that should be a law! 🙂 Same here about the commenting and love of your style, except for me in regards to you. *hugs* Yay, thanks for reading and offering your insights! 🙂

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  3. Very useful post. I hate it when I can’t ‘like’ someone’s post too – why do they do that? Not sure about not moderating comments though, I’ve had a few spam comments on my site that weren’t picked up by Askimet. Don’t you get this problem?

    Like

    1. With regards to the “likes”: I’ve read that it’s because, sometimes, they feel like people are just spamming their likes as in only hitting like to direct traffic to their own blogs. I have a whole post scheduled dealing with that concept. 🙂 With the comment moderation– of course! There’s always spam. If you’re relatively diligent, though, you can always just delete it. Most people who are online understand that spam is a constant problem, so no one will judge your site for it unless you’re positively over run. Treating everyone like they could be a spammer, though, is an unfriendly experience for the commenter. Plus, to me, it always says that you’re just not around to moderate your comments… which means it’s unlikely you’ll be replying, and you might not even read it for several days. All of which tells me that my comment is not that important, which is fine if that’s what you want to translate, and really awful if it’s not. 🙂 When I took off moderation of my comments, the amount of comments I received nearly doubled– instead of people leaving one at a time, they’d respond to three or four posts in a row. It’s been great. 🙂

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        1. Uh oh, haha! 😀 Seriously, though, I haven’t had a problem. If it does make you nervous, at least switch to the “one time approval” type of moderation… the ones were I have to get approved each time are the worst. 🙂

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  4. Take a screenshot of one of your typical blogs, run it through your favorite image editor, set it to gray scale, and save it in low resolution. Now, can you still read the text?

    For people with partial or full color-blindness, some color combinations are flat out impossible to read–red text on a black background, for example. (Which happens to very popular in certain circles.)

    If I really, really, want to read a particular page that is in one of these goofy formats, I can go into the guts of my browser and redo the formatting to something legible, but it’s a pain.

    Black text, white background, no less than ten point (twelve and up is my preference) and fergoodnesssake, use a standard book font. You won’t get readers if you can’t get read.

    Like

    1. So true! The font thing is a big deal. I know people want the overall feel of their blog to match their personality… but if the words can’t be read, what’s the point? 🙂 Excellent tips, Misha!

      Like

    1. Yep, we all need some reminders sometimes. Some of these, I struggle with because they don’t come super-naturally… but I try! There’s so much information out there, it’s hard to know what to focus on first, too. That’s why I started here before I go into other things– I think the most important thing is making sure a reader could read you. Then you can worry about getting that reader to find you, haha. 😀 Thanks for reading!

      Like

    1. I don’t know if they have to be catchy, but the ones I stumble upon in my reader that say “Monday Meandering #7” are usually the ones I skip. It’s the vagueness of topic and tone that bothers me in those. 🙂 I like your titles! Can’t go wrong with “Of Cheese and Lava Lakes”. 🙂

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  5. Love your post. I also have a problem when there isn’t “like.” I like to “like” when I think the post was really interesting, but have nothing constructive to add in the comment.

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  6. Rara, thanks for using me as a good example, but thanks even more for the other tips I didn’t even know could be done! If any of these improvements show up on my blog soon, it’s all your fault 😉

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    1. 😀 Thanks, Pam! I figure if these things keep me from being able to read a post, then someone who reads at normal speed and doesn’t have “reading” as their primary hobby probably really struggles. Here’s hoping the advice makes it easier on some readers out there. 🙂

      Like

  7. A non-functional gravatar is a huge pet peeve of mine: It’s like driving into a dead end when you are trying to get to the Dunkin Donuts that you know is just around the corner because the GPS says so, but you just can’t get there from here. 🙂

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  8. “Make sure your bite-sized view makes sense”? Sorry, my entire BLOG doesn’t make sense – just like its’ author. Besides, that takes all the fun out of it. 😀

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    1. haha, no, your bite-sized view does make sense. It tells me what your post is about. The ones that I have issue with as a reader, are the ones I mention in some other comments… the ones that give no indication of tone or topic. Like, “Tuesday, #4” or no title at all! And sometimes, the first few sentence of a post is just links. which looks really confusing from the WordPress Reader. 🙂 So I didn’t mean you had to be logical or mainstream– there’s no fun in that 😀 — just clear.

      Like

  9. I’m sorry, I can’t get past the picture of the hamburger cupcakes, so I’ll just say “good post” since I am sure it was.

    Like

  10. I’m always fiddling with my 2 blogs. I want my readers to have a pleasant experience and I want likes and comments! Also, on my food blog I always add a picture to each recipe! That is a must for a good food blog! I often wonder how my blogs look to others, because I see it so often I’m not always sure it’s nice to others. Great tips!

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    1. It’s true, it’s hard to have that objectivity. I’ll add things to my blog and be happy-skippy about how it looks, and my husband will walk over and say “Whoa, now, what is happening over there?” 🙂 Sometimes what is normal to me is overwhelming to others. 🙂 In other words– I understand. 🙂 If you ever want a third party opinion, you can always email me… rarasaurdinosaur@gmail.com. Thanks for reading!

      Like

      1. thanks! if you ever see a problem with my blog just let me know! I trust your judgement. you can email me at jlroederATmailDOTcom I will keep your email handy…

        Like

  11. This is such great information. I’m a designer and I confess that the myriad of noise often confuses me when I am reading. I got into blogging without doing much reading first (stupid, I know) so tips like these are a huge help!

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    1. 😀 Yep, noise can be distracting. Sometimes I’ll see random words underlined and taken to wikipedia and I can just tell that I won’t even remember what blog I’m on by the time I get back from my wiki adventures. It’s not stupid at all to jump two feet into blogging, 🙂 and, if even it was, your blog looks fabulous. 😀

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      1. Haha – I totally get that – the links lead me away from the blog and I end up on several tangents. I subscribed to my own blog so that I can see it in the reader. I appreciate the kind words – I’m learning as I go and doing my best.

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  12. Awesome post, and they are all so true!! I have the same criteria as you do for blog enjoying/following! I don’t know the name of the theme but there is one that is a black background with TINY white writing with red accents on the page–I feel like my eyes are BLEEDING when I look at it. I won’t even try to read a sentence on those blogs.

    Also the gravatar thing drives me crazy! Sometimes I really want to check out the blog of the person who “liked” a post of mine and it leads me nowhere.

    Great tips, and thanks for using my blog as one of your examples! 🙂

    Like

    1. I know exactly what theme you’re talking about. It’s centered, too, right? Other than being illegible, it also looks exactly like everyone else who has that theme. I was reading a post the other day trying to figure out why one of my favorite snarky ladies had decided to write passionately about Twilight, and not spell check… when I realized that, “Oh, this is not her blog.” It was a weird feeling, haha, like walking into the wrong house. 🙂 Your blog is a great example of many of those things, just had to pick one. 😀

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      1. YES, that is the one! I cannot STAND IT! That’s hilarious, I’m sure you were like “errr what happened to this chick’s writing overnight??”

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  13. Awesome, thank you for the tips.

    This was a great idea! We, as bloggers, always try to keep our readers in mind when posting; it is also great to hear from a fellow blogger and reader who can give us tips from the inside, so to speak. This will be a great help as I further evolve my blog. 🙂

    Like

    1. No problem! 🙂 I’ve always been a reader of blogs, but now that I’m blogging, too, I’m painfully aware of how hard I was on blogs (as a reader)… and how many avoidable-mistakes I stumble into (as a blogger). I’m hoping that by compiling them, we’ll all be able to benefit! 😀

      Like

  14. All good points. I think my side bar needs a bit of work and will look into that after the craziness of the Season subsides. There’s a few other bloggy things you have me thinking about also. It so much like trial and error at times.

    Like

    1. 🙂 It is a lot of trial & error! It’s why I’m trying to compile the rules that apply to most people, the more “global rules”… and then I’ll work on the individual things that each person has to monitor. 🙂 Thanks for reading, and happy holidays!

      Like

  15. Great tips, and a few I will implement. Thanks. I was wondering where you stood on word count. Tying in with short attention spans, are people scared off when they see in Reader that your post is 1500 words longs? I get nervous when mine creep past 700.

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    1. I have a post nearly done, will post today or tomorrow, about it with all the numbers behind this advice, but basically — I wouldn’t stress about word-count. There are so many variables that go into what’s the best count, and the truth is– there’s a crowd for any length of post. Just make sure those 1500 words need to be there, or add to the story. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

      Like

  16. I’ve made the cheeseburger cupcakes before. They’re super fun. 🙂
    And I’m still looking for the perfect “free” template. But – you know… time and stuff.

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    1. I haven’t made them, but I’ve eaten one.. they’re awesome! 🙂 I think the best stratagem with templates is the one you can customize to look like it’s yours and yours alone. The one I use is great for that, though it does have its drawbacks– but at least I think everyone who comes here knows that they’re at my crazy little blog. 🙂

      Like

  17. I’m building up a slow readership. I’m doing a lot of things you’ve suggested, but I appreciate the tips you’ve given for improvements.
    You didn’t mention length of blogs. Do you recommend short or long posts? Mine are short, with an occasional longer post of 700-1000 words.

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    1. I have a post almost-done about this, but based on the books and some stat tests I’ve done, I think the best course of action is to vary your post sizes. 🙂 Thanks for popping in to read! 😀

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      1. I’ll look forward to that, and, in the meantime, will continue to vary my post lengths. Thanks.

        Like

    1. Oh good!! 🙂 May I make a suggestion? How about uploading pictures of things you like, or things that represent your blog? Many people understand things better with pictures… so maybe snap a picture of a pile of books you love, that represent your writing style? I’m so glad you found some good advice in here. *hugs*

      Like

  18. These are all great points! I always really like reading your blog! About the gravatar profile, it’s so awful when I find a great blog, want to write to the author and can’t find his/her email address! Blogging is about contact, no?

    Thanks for referencing me, it’s good to know I’m doing something right! Of course, ideally, I would blog everyday, but it’s just a lot of work to do research for anthropology posts so I have to limit myself to one a week, otherwise I’ll end up writing a PhD on geek culture, but without the diploma!

    Like

    1. Thanks, Dr.Geek (See? I just gave you an honorary PhD. I’ll even make you an official diploma if you want. 😉 ) No worries — your posts are regular, if not daily, and I think that’s what really count. I love your blog– always so thoughtful and detailed! And yes, great advice– the email address is important! 🙂

      Like

  19. This was a great run-down of some blogging dos and don’ts. I found it via Fay Moore’s site who linked to it. Guess that means you’re following your own rules, since people are linking to your wise post. 🙂

    Like

    1. Haha, thank you! Though I think it really just means that Fay is a sweetie. 🙂 I try to follow my own advice, but some areas are harder than others for everyone! 🙂 Thanks for popping by to say hey, and for reading!

      Like

  20. Thanks for the tip about headings! Some days I can spend a good deal of time “killing [my] darlings” and shortening my posts so all the paragraphs are 5 lines or fewer, and important points are emphasized. Headings would be a great way to break up the visual monotony for those other days when I’m short on time and long on words. Great post!

    Like

    1. Yes, headings are a definite help! 🙂 I’ve always loved the Blaise Pascal quote which is loosely translated to, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time”, 🙂 It makes so much sense, even though it doesn’t!

      Like

  21. Hi Rarasaur, WOW, I stopped by to say thanks for stopping by, and read your post. Now I need to go back and click on all the examples. What an awesome post! I’m an instant follower. Marsha 🙂

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      1. Rarasaur, I already made changes to my gravitar that I didn’t know I needed to make. What a wealth of information. I can only take so much at a time!!! Thanks again. Marsha 🙂

        Like

  22. This post is awesome, partly because it’s really practical and partly because, even if I don’t “obey” everything on it, I can read your points and be like, “Yeah, I HATE it when other bloggers do that.” I’m not judging or anything . . .

    Trouble is, *I’m* not so practical and am kind of baffled as to how to fix Issue Number 2. (No–not *that* issue.) Also, one time I got some help setting up the image widgets in my sidebar, and my blogroll, and now I’ve forgotten how to do any of those things and I’m unable to update them or change them around or anything. Also, I like run-on sentences.

    *And*–whenever I end a post with a question, no one answers, and I feel sad. Also, because I’m not so good at asking questions to begin with, it makes me even more insecure of my question-asking abilities, so then I just don’t.

    Suggestions? I mean, more of them?

    Like

    1. 🙂 Thanks Jenn! For #2, go to your dashboard, click on “APPEARANCE” in your side bar, and click on “WIDGETS”. From there, you can mess with the images on your side bar. From “MENU” in that same “APPEARANCE” dropdown, you can play with the custom menu options that I see you have. 🙂 In regards to questions, I do several things– one, I stack questions, giving people a lot of options. Two, if I’m unsure if someone will respond… I offer my email address too. I do that because it seems a little less sad if no one replies on there (Like, “Hey, tons of people are emailing me directly, that’s why there’s no comments.”), and – as an added benefit– sometimes people really do respond with an email. 🙂 Three, and this one does not apply to you but it’s semi-relevant and one of one my “I’m not judging or anything 😉 ” thoughts…make your comment area a safe space. Sometimes I’ll respond and the blogger will respond with something that sounds a lot like a critique of me not answering their questions. Like, “Yeah, I’m glad you like this post, but do you have a favorite song or not?!” And then I run away, scaredy cat style. I think it’s easy to comment if people know that all their replies will be acknowledged and accepted happily, no matter how random they are. 🙂 Does that help?

      Like

      1. It does! As regards the last thing, I think I try to do that . . . but then again, I don’t know how it comes across, and considering the man I married at first only asked me on a second date “out of spite” because he thought I was rude, and I had no idea–well, maybe I have no idea. 🙂

        Like

  23. This was a great post. Some of the tips you give remind me of the writing of a sales guru that i read named Jeffrey Gitomer. I’m inspired to put more effort into the presentation of my writing. You’ve set the bar pretty high, but I’m shooting to have a blog as enjoyable, and EASY, to read as yours 🙂

    Like

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