Blogging can be many things - cathartic, a discipline, fun (on occasion), a shop window, a means of earning money (yes, really) and a playpen to experiment with ideas and excerpts. However, like dust and the dead flies from our attic, much of blogging exists in a vacuum.

Sure, there's the occasional comment that isn't about viagra, a certain brand of boots or a slew of text in Latin, German or some ideogrammatical language. And it's nice to have interactions with your fellow bloggers.

And who doesn't like the occasional nod from the Universe, via someone else, to say, "Keep writing, dude!" My recent nod was from Monika over at http://motheroad.wordpress.com/ and I thank her for the Liebster Award nomination. 

So, here's the essential blurb - mainly cribbed from Monika's blog.

Liebster Rules

This award is given to new or up-and-coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. The award is passed along to other small-time bloggers to help spread the word and support each other as we type away in our little corners of the universe. Here’s the deal:
  1. Each blogger should post 11 random facts about him or herself.
  2. Answer the questions the nominator has posed, then create 11 new questions the bloggers you nominate. I know, not exactly free speech, but let's see how it goes.
  3. Choose 11 new bloggers (with less than 200 followers) to receive a Liebster, then post links to their blogs in your post.
  4. Let each nominee know by leaving a comment on his or her blog.
  5. No tag backs.

11 Random Facts About Me, based on Monika's strange questions

  1. Do you shower every day? No. I adhere to a strict no sweating policy. It also helps that I have an addled sense of smell. Visitors beware.
  2. Coffee: black, blond, or not at all? Not all. Coffee, to me, smells like a combination of earth, a burning rubber band, and crap. Seriously.
  3. If you could spend a day as the opposite sex, what would you do? Easy, I'd resubmit my novels to agents and publishers, and see whether it made a difference
  4. What CD is in your stereo/car stereo right now? (Or you can be like me, and have a car so old that it doesn’t have a CD player. In which case just say what CD you’d listen to if you could.) Tend to listen to the radio, but...in the glove compartment there's are a couple of Kate Rusby CDs and one by The Waterboys.
  5. Do you think a woman is less feminine with short hair, or is short hair a sign of smarts, gumption, and not-too-threatening modernity? Believe me, I'm the last person to profess any expertise on the subject of hair (alas). Smart women are always preferable, whatever the hairstyle.
  6. Who takes out the trash at your house? That's no way to talk about our cat. Oh, I see what you mean. Probably 57% of the time it's me.
  7. Thong underwear: uncomfortable and icky, or sexy-hot? Ah, the minds of Americans... A gentleman never tells. Oh, okay then - I've never tried wearing one. 
  8. What’s the worst thing that could happen to you tomorrow? (So, you know,  you have tonight to worry about it and/or prevent it. And your answer can’t have any death in it.) Assuming my loved ones are all safe and sound, a hard drive meltdown. Or an accusation of plagiarism. Or amnesia.
  9. Beer or wine? Or vodka? Or, like, a piña colada? And where? I'm a simple soul. One glass of cava gets me squiffy for half an hour. I prefer non-alcoholic ginger beer. 
  10. Pie or cake? What kind? Plain or à la mode? With what accompanying beverage? Peppermint tea and chocolate pie. Or lemon pie and hot chocolate. Doesn't have to round because, as all mathematicians know, sometimes pi r squared.
  11. Pick one and share a story: Birth of your child, first time you met your Significant Other, first time riding a bike without training wheels, first kiss, best Fourth of July/Guy Fawkes Day ever, when you knew for sure God exists, or when you became convinced he doesn’t. Oh, good lord. First kiss was when I was five years old. I know so much less about the opposite sex now.


11 Questions for My Nominees (answer some or all):
  1. What's the hardest thing you've ever had to write?
  2. Where is the place you consider home?
  3. If I'd won a gazillion on the lottery, what would you say to convince me to give you a slice of it?
  4. Most disappointing book ever?
  5. Which law would you change or introduce?
  6. Is there a politician (living or deceased) that you admire - and why?
  7. What was the most important thing that childhood taught you?
  8. What do you wish you'd learned to do when you were younger? 
  9. Congratulations, you're a time traveller. Where do you travel to?
  10. One of your favourite songs of all time?
  11. TV programme from childhood that you still think about occasionally.

And my nominees are:

  1. Freya Morris - http://freyamorris.blogspot.co.uk/
  2. Wendy Soliman - http://wendysoliman.blogspot.co.uk/
  3. Brian Keaney - http://odyllicforce.blogspot.co.uk/
  4. SnowMoonWolf - http://wolfphotograpy.blogspot.co.uk/

Signs and Wonders

What's a cat gotta do to get noticed?
As a freelancer, I wear two hats – the floppy, creative one and the one that means business. I’m like a dual aspect room, only with headgear.

Similarly, my customers fall into two categories – the ones I know and the ones I don’t. So how do you write for a customer you don’t know? The same way that hedgehogs mate – thoughtfully!

On face value, having both products (existing books and content) and services (writing to order) would seem to suggest different approaches, but it all comes down to the same magical equation: outcome = income. Customers need to know about you – what you do and why they should choose instead of one of your competitors (okay, the pope, once installed, is an exception).

Let’s face it, social media will only take you so far; and sometimes it can all get a bit…well…sociable. Honestly now, how many businesses have you tried purely on the basis of their tweets and likes? Not many, methinks. I’ve bought books thanks to social media, but I’ve never booked a plumber. And how do you reach those customers who don’t sit glued to a screen all day?

Word-of-mouth, it seems to me, only really works when someone has something to talk about, which takes us right back to customers knowing about you in the first place.

The Internet offers a plethora (love that word) of ideas and approaches. Looking into just some of the options has given me food for thought about how I could reach new customers. Although, being lazy (funny how it’s always called energy conservation except when it’s a person…), I simply did one quick web search and found plenty of info at Discount Banner Printing.

In a word: advertising.

Clearly, the possibilities have moved on a bit since Bill Posters faced prosecution. (Remember him?!) At one end of my imaginary scale there’s the noble sandwich board – which, take it from me, is both inedible and tricky to convey on public transport. Alternatively, you could push the boat out and hire a plane to do some skywriting. I did consider it, but I’m very particular about my apostrophes. And money.

More practically, stickers or labels combining text and graphics put the message where it will be seen, either in a static location or on the move. You can also get window clings in vivid colours and detail.

I’m keen to promote my business, but I want results. For instance, I wouldn’t take up roller-skating just to advertise my wares. Given my sense of balance, that outcome would be out cold and inpatient!

I’ll leave you with this well-known, anonymous poem – it speaks for itself.

The codfish lays ten thousand eggs,
The homely hen lays one.
The codfish never cackles
To tell you what she's done.
And so we scorn the codfish,
While the humble hen we prize,
Which only goes to show you
That it pays to advertise!