Tag Archives: writing

SEO- what I’ve learned so far

I’ve been researching search engine optimization (SEO) lately. What I have been learning is not what I expected to find. 

I didn’t know much about SEO, but I imagined it as a series of technical steps that I could follow to make my website more visible. It’s about ranking higher in search engine results, right? So it should be like a game that I can learn to play, or so I thought.

The goal of search engines is to help people quickly find the information that they are looking for and to direct people to sources that are accessible. In the past, it was possible to trick search engines into ranking your site higher by using an excessive amount of keywords, links, and other tools. But as search engines become smarter, these strategies no longer work because they do not provide visitors with a positive user experience. To rank higher in search engines, you need to do something that you should be doing for your site anyway: provide content that is helpful and accessible.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to do some technical work; you absolutely do. You need to make sure that search engines are crawling the right pages of your site, and there are keywords and links that actually will help you. But search engine optimization is a lot more than that, too.

One of the most important aspects of SEO is putting your audience first. You need to think about what content people are actually searching for and craft your content to serve their needs. You can’t do that overnight; it takes time and practice. But when you succeed at putting these skills into practice, not only will your site rank higher in search engines, but your audience will actually have a better experience on your site. Isn’t that what you wanted in the first place, anyway?

I’ve learned that SEO is a means to an end, not an end in itself. I’ve also learned that I still have a lot to learn. SEO is not something that you can pick up in a day or two; there’s a lot to it, and it’s constantly changing.

If you’d like to begin learning about search engine optimization, I have found this site to be helpful:

https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo

I hope to continue developing my skills on this topic. I’ll keep you updated. 🙂

called to create

Tonight in my wind ensemble rehearsal, I actually enjoyed playing my clarinet for the first time in a while. I’ve played for about 11 years, but I’ve had a complicated relationship with my clarinet for the past couple. Somewhere down the line, I started to care too much about whether or not I sounded great, and I felt like there wasn’t much of a point to playing at all if I didn’t sound great. There are several problems with that mindset, and one of them is that I would lose the desire to play whenever I felt insecure about my skills. Since I’m too hard on myself, this has happened a lot.

But tonight I tried to take a different approach to playing. I thought about how blessed I am to be able to have studied music in college, to play clarinet, and even just to own my beautiful instrument.

I’m a sinner. I don’t deserve grace or mercy. I don’t deserve the clothes on my back, or the heat of the sun that shines down on me, or another day. And I don’t deserve Christ’s life given for me on the cross. But God has given me all of those things, and more than that too. It is by the grace and love of God that I get to create music; it’s another gift that he has lavished on me. And it’s a good gift.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow.” -James 1:17

Put that way, I can stop worrying about whether or not I sound great, and I can play out of a heart of thankfulness.

I think that people need to create out of thankfulness. Not just music, but art or writing or cooking; any number of things.

Have you ever gone through an extended period of time where you didn’t create anything? Or perhaps you only created anything for the sake of achieving productivity. That’s what I’ve been doing lately, more or less, and it has made me feel sad and empty. But when I create something just for the fun of it, just because I can, I feel good. I feel a sense of purpose and joy at the marvel of building something with my own hands.

If we’re made in the image of God, I think we need to create. I suppose it’s a calling. None of us would exist without his desire to create, and I think that he has passed that desire onto us. I think it’s good for our souls and minds and bodies. But we can’t create just to try and be great. If that’s your purpose, you’ll just find yourself at a dead end sooner or later.

I think that God loves to listen to me play clarinet, but not because my playing knocks his socks off or anything like that. It doesn’t. Rather, he loves to listen to me play because he loves me and because he’s the one who gives me the ability to play. When I play, I’m making good use of one of the gifts he has given me, and I think that it warms his heart. My playing is like a silly crayon drawing that God has hung up on his fridge. He doesn’t love it because it’s amazing; he loves it because he made me. And he feels the same way whenever you create too.

Updates

Several months ago, I changed the focus of this blog from my personal life to the arts and mental health.

This was exciting for me. However, in the past several months, I’ve changed my career goals quite a bit. These changes have affected how I felt about my blog, too.

I used to be a clarinet performance major. I wanted to pursue a graduate degree in clarinet and build a career out of performing and teaching. Since then, I realized that I don’t actually want to leave my home state to pursue my studies. I also discovered that I love my minor in professional writing even more than I thought I would. Later, I developed tendonitis in my hand and wrist from my clarinet practicing.

Following these realizations and the pain in my hand, I changed my major to a bachelor of arts in music, allowing me to have more room for writing classes and to give my hand a break. Post-graduation, I hope to have a job in technical writing, editing, or grant writing and I’m super excited.

As my career focus has shifted away from music (and my physical ability to practice has decreased), my personal relationship with music has changed. This change exposed an unhealthy mindset that I had developed as a musician. I’m still wrestling with that now, but I’m learning how to accept music as an enjoyable hobby rather than as a career, and it’s good for me.

Since I’m still wrestling with what it means for me to be a musician and artist, I’m opening this blog up for other personal content again; especially faith. But the blog will still be different from its early days.

I’ve had a lot of thoughts in the past year about the benefits and costs of being personal online, and more often than not, I feel that the costs outweigh the benefits. So many people share intimate details about their lives online for all to see, but I think it’s worth it to trust people before becoming super personal; a difficult, if not impossible, thing to develop on the internet.

However, I realized that I can share my thoughts on a variety of topics and discuss what I’ve been learning and/or thinking about without giving too much personal detail. That’s what I’m gonna do.

So here I go again with changing the course of this blog. Ope.

 

when things get in the way

I have two laptops. One of them is heavy, doesn’t fit into my backpack, and has a lot of loading issues. I named that one Roger. the other one has keyboard problems; letters t and y don’t work unless I repeatedly press them, and it’s nearly impossible to capitalize them. Hence, the lower case t that I started the previous sentence with. I haven’t given that laptop a name, but it’s blue, so I refer to it as the blue one.

I don’t write on the blue one most of the time, but sometimes Roger’s problems test my patience too much, or I don’t want to carry it with me around campus. When I do write on the blue one and have to press t and y between 7 and 15 times every time I need to use one of them, I have to pat myself on the back because I worked extra hard to get my words on the page.

Sometimes, as a creator, there are things that get in the way of making art, like malfunctioning keyboards, or for me, mental health. It’s awfully hard to write in a really negative head space. Sometimes it’s hard to write in a positive head space, but when my mind is being extra critical of the work I’m creating? It’s just downright painful. There are days when I try and just give up, and then there are the days where I push through. In either case, I remind myself that I tried, and sometimes that is more than enough.

Being a musician is like that for me too. Practicing is difficult even when I’m in the best mindset. to have an effective practice session where I’m really getting work done means many things. Focusing on tone, tonguing, and practicing runs of notes in ways that actually help me to retain them? That’s a lot to pay attention to in short spans of time. But that’s just what practicing is like. And on days where my head space is extra critical or just plain sad? the practice room becomes a very tricky place.

But I try to go there anyway. And on those days I sometimes still try to write. And I still write on a laptop with a bad keyboard.

Sometimes things get in the way of creating, but when you’re fighting those things, remember that if your work isn’t what it might be on better days, it’s probably because you had to work so much harder just to begin. Sometimes it doesn’t matter whether the art you create on bad days is your best work. You’re a trooper just for trying.