So You Wanna Be A Blogger?

Blogging is a great way to connect with a target audience on a somewhat personal level on one condition… you actually BLOG. It sounds great in theory – start a blog, write about a cool topic, get a bunch of readers to follow you, and BOOM! All of a sudden you’ve graduated to Perez Hilton status, with 14,500,000 estimated monthly users. Who wouldn’t want THAT????

But you need compelling content that people crave. It doesn’t happen overnight and it definitely won’t happen unless you do a few key things right up front.

Your first step is to figure out your topic and blog name. It can be your name or something that is related to the type of content you want to write about. When I created my blog, I knew I wanted to write about innovation, entrepreneurship and startups. So I agonized for DAYS and finally came up with The Idea Mama. It’s catchy, right??? =)

Once you have a name, you’re ready to roll! So here it is… my top 10 list for starting a new blog! These steps come way before your fingers hover over the keyboard, itching to type that first entry. There’s a lot of prep that goes into the setup. Don’t rush the process. Take your time, think long and hard about your goals with the blog. These tips will help you get started.

Group of BLOG related 3D words. Part of a series.

  1. Buy the domain. You can’t have a website without a domain name. It’s your home address… on the web. Go to and find out if it’s available. If it is, GRAB IT! If you want to test the waters, buy it for one year instead of three.
  2. Select a blogging platform. I use WordPress and I like it. I’m not wild about TypePad. I’ve used that in the past and found it to be extremely frustrating. One of my other sites, Author Navigation, was built with Weebly. They have a free trial available. Weekly is very intuitive. You can drag and drop components onto your page according to the theme you select. Easy to use and very reasonably priced.
  3. Get a logo for your website. Fiverr is THE place to go for a cost-effective graphic. It’s one of my favorite places on the web. It’s a community of freelancers who offer gigs for graphic design, online marketing, advertising, music and audio, writing and translation – all starting at $5. You can always beef up your gig for an additional amount but let me tell you, I’ve gotten kick ass results with only $5. Go. NOW! If you need a recommendation, I’ve got a guy… =)
  4. Create a Twitter handle…I have a couple… @kristen_luciani, @theideamama. Use your new blog name and if it isn’t available, come up with some variation. Then, HAPPY TWEETING! You’ll share your own content, as well as content you come across on the web and with your fellow tweeps. We’ll get to that in the next tip…
  5. Create a CrowdFire account. This will help you find the right target audience to follow on Twitter. It helps to grow your following, which you NEED to grow. You’ll also be able to find INFLUENCERS using this tool. Influencers are people who are subject matter experts in your topic and have a large following, which represents a large opportunity for consumption of quality content. Establish relationships with a few key influencers. Retweet and comment on their content and hopefully, they will eventually return the favor.
  6. Create a Facebook page for your blog and start to get likes. Make sure you post to it several times daily. You can post images, links to articles or anything else that is relevant to your blog. The purpose is to engage with your fan base and sharing compelling content is the best way to engage. Videos are cool too. People really appreciate the personal interaction, so get out of your comfort zone.
  7. Set up an Instagram account. You can post images or 15 second-long videos. AND you can link your Instagram account to Facebook and Twitter, so any of your images will post to all three locations.
  8. Establish a Hootsuite account. This is a tool that allows you to consolidate all your social networks and post to all at once. TIME SAVER!!!!!!
  9. Register an account on Quora. This is a great way to get exposure to a new audience. Establish yourself as a subject mater expert on your topic by answering questions in that category. It really helps get your voice heard and people will start to become familiar with the value you bring to the table. AND, you can always use those questions/responses as blog posts!
  10. Subscribe to a photo site. I belong to Dollar Photo Club. It has great images and is extremely cost-effective. $99 per year entitled you to 99 images. Each additional one will cost only $1. There are plenty of other sites, but this is my preference. You can’t post random Google images on your blog, even if you credit the website. If you get caught, you’ll get a nasty letter warning  you to take the image down or else legal action will be taken and you’ll most likely be threatened with a fine.

There are also a ton of informative books on blogging. Here are a few of my faves:

Feel free to browse other titles…just be careful that the book wasn’t published too long ago otherwise the industry will have changed too much for the information to be really relevant. Sometimes, though, you can find diamonds in the rough.

Okay, I’ve gotten you started. Next steps?

WRITE, then SHARE!!!!

Social Media Ideas Designer Desk Architectural Tools Office Concept

Social Media Ideas Designer Desk Architectural Tools Office Concept

Launch Day For Author Navigation Is Finally Here!!!!!

I used to think writing a book was the hard part…

But then I did it…once, twice, a third time…until my precious manuscript was finally finished. That’s when the real work began.

Endless amounts of research, trying to find the right editor, formatter, cover artist, promotion company, and on and on. Ugh, not my favorite part of the process at all. I really wanted to keep writing but I had to plow through pages and pages of search results because there just wasn’t a one-stop shop for all the resources I needed to evaluate. Until now… =)

My dear friend and fellow author Ryan Ringbloom and I identified a gap in the market, one which if filled, would enable authors to spend more time honing their craft instead of Googling.  I’m a writer; I want to spend my time messing up the lives of my characters and then figuring out how to fix them while weaving in a few scorching love scenes along the way. =)

The literary world is absolutely saturated now so authors need their work to stand out as much as possible and finding the right “team” is challenging, to say the least. Hence, the birth of Author Navigation, the online directory of vendors who can help authors prep, polish and perfect their manuscripts for the masses.

For a small fee, vendors can submit a request to have their company represented in our brand-new directory, available to the rapidly increasing number of authors who need to assemble their own teams.

A unique promotional opportunity for vendors hoping to score more clients, a greatway to maximize efficiencies for authors seeking experts who can help take their book from good to great…

Author Navigation…Navigate Your Way To Success!!


Color Me Anything I Want!!!

Ever wish you could change the color of your eyes to really make your peepers pop?? Oh wait…you can. Color contact lenses. Argh. No matter who the manufacturer is, the hues are still super-fake looking, even after so many years. Staring deep into someone’s really oddly opaque blue eyes is a slight bit disturbing. So I’ve heard. Or when they float around on your brown irises because let’s face it, it’s not a one size fits all product, and you look like an alien with one half-green eye and one half-brown eye. That doesn’t look strange at all.


Courtesy of

Courtesy of

I’ve been there and I’ve never lost the itch, even though my past experiences were borderline disastrous. So I’ve given this some hard thought.

Wouldn’t it be cool if I had smart CONTACT LENSES to adjust the color of my eyes??? Obviously they would be made of a special material and powered to transmit data to an app (of course, because everything these days has to be controlled by an app to be cool or purposeful). The app would enable the user to determine exactly which shade to color the eyes. Maybe green with a hint of brown around the pupil or certain variations of blue or hazel…possibilities, possibilities.

But why stop there? Let’s really give these suckers an authentic look for the users. The lenses could measure physiological data, transmit it to the app and then make changes to the selected color based on mood, for example. It makes everything look and feel…well, more real. You now have bright blue eyes but you’re getting angry so the lenses detect changes in your body that adjust the shade. Perhaps they darken? They’d be reflective of your mood. In addition, if your pupil dilates, the iris would read that data and shrink.

Google is already on it…kind of. They’ve created the smart contact lens, although they have a much more altruistic goal. Their lenses were created as a way to measure glucose levels for diabetics and then send data wirelessly to a nearby device.

Google’s smart contact lenses for diabetics: Another step towards the Google-powered cyborg

The big challenge to this innovation is the power source. In the case of Google’s invention, a tiny antenna is embedded in the lens but because it’s so small, it needs to be close to the power source, a challenge Google will ultimately overcome, I’m certain.

And then Colarity will be next. =)

Stop Hounding Me With Buy Links!!!!

People want to buy but they don’t WANT TO BE SOLD!

I love that quote. It’s so true. How many times do you go into a store, greeted by eager-beaver salespeople asking if they can help you find something to buy?

I could never be in sales…

But alas, I AM.

I’m an indie author. Not only do I write, but I also market and SELL.

Like with most businesses, the market is pretty much saturated with books. You name it, there’s a genre out there. And about a trillion books within each, with more and more being self-published on a DAILY.

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

As an entrepreneurial author, you may find success in publishing a book that embodies a brand-new concept, something new, different and alluring because it is outside the norm.

But that’s risky because people like what they like and most are creatures of habit. So unless you come up with something cutting edge that an influencer finds appealing, you may be SOL with that plan.

But fear not…there are other ways to gain an audience.

The world of indie publishing is very different now than it was a year ago. Isn’t that insane? I Google articles and if they are pre-2013, I rarely bother reading them because they are THAT outdated.

Social media takes the front seat with indie publishing. You need a presence and you need a ridiculously large network to get your name out there. But that’s not even enough…

The challenge is building a network where you form meaningful relationships, not just hey, post my link and I’ll post yours kind of stuff. That doesn’t do anything. It’s all white noise. And like I said, people get annoyed at the constant buy links. They aren’t helping authors move units.

The ideal is to build relationships online that translate to relationships OFFLINE. Grassroots efforts ultimately result in more widespread awareness, although they take time to gain traction. I’ve given plenty of books away…why? Because if you read “Unlikely Venture” and tell ten friends that you loved it, maybe they will buy and love it…and leave a review on Amazon. =)

And when “Nothing Ventured” comes out, they’ll be anxious to get their hands on that story and tell even more people if they enjoy it. By the time “Venture Forward” is released, I will have established a fan base (hopefully) for the rest of my author career.


Here’s the key takeaway – Always keep focus on PEOPLE. Create for them, market for them, make them happy and excited because they are the ones who can make or break any of your entrepreneurial endeavors.

Build Your Own Virtual Reality Porn Star!

Okay, so this idea is a bit risqué but it’s got HUGE potential.

How would you like to download an app that let’s you construct your own porn star…and when you’ve customized him or her exactly to your liking (or lusting, as the case may be), you upload your own photo and boom!  You simulate your own…well, YOU know.  =)

Now I see this as more of a guy’s fantasy.  Yes, Im generalizing.  Sue me.  Hair color, eye color, skin tone, body type – everything is customizeable AND photorealistic.  A 3D virtual reality porn star who will do everything and anything you command.

I Googled my idea.  No such apps exist.  Score!  But there is a video game idea that comes awfully close, courtesy of StartUp Daily author, Tasnuva Bindi (Design Your Own Porno:  Programmer Introduces The 3D Virtual Reality Porn Star, 1/2014). The main differentiator between this programmer’s idea and my idea is the level of interaction.

In his video game, the porn star performs acts which are then viewed by some horny user who does…well, I don’t need to get specific here, right?  We’re all adults.

In my app, the horny user can upload his own photo and the system will simulate him…ahem…engaging with his carefully crafted leading lady, complete with double Ds and whatever else turns him on.

It’s a surefire winner.  =)

Courtesy of Startup Daily

Courtesy of Startup Daily



You Take A Picture & Post It…On The Line. Let’s Call It….Exchange-O-Gram!

The Internship is my current favorite movie.  The first time I watched it, I was really tired and had way too much wine so I didn’t fully appreciate the humor.

The movie has some classic scenes, but this one is my fave.  I got such a chuckle when I watched it earlier that I needed to share with all of you!  If you don’t see any other part of this movie, watch the clip.  Hysterical!

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I’m SO intrigued by the Google campus.  I’ve never had the pleasure of a visit but fortunately, I got an inside view today.  Pretty cool digs, huh?




Daughter Of The Digital Revolution…And Her AG Cronies

The Crew

The Crew

Who knew that AGSM would open my eyes to how very inspirational my daughter Lulu could be?

AGSM = American Girl Stop Motion = YouTube craze = Lulu’s new favorite pastime

Stop motion videos are super cool, if you’ve never had the pleasure of watching one.  Lulu stumbled upon the YouTube channel and has been obsessed ever since.  An endless stream of hours with Mia, Rebecca, Caroline; sitting, standing, waving, climbing, dancing, and chatting.  But Lulu can’t figure out how to get herself out of the video and with stop motion, that’s a no-no.  The dolls come to life in these videos.  No human intervention is permitted.

Lulu watched and dissected the videos, almost as if to solve the mystery of a magic trick.  I was no help.  I’m not a videophile.  Some may say I’m a bit technologically challenged.  I can’t even figure out how to use our XBOX360.

She tried and failed, over and over.  Finally, she resorted to Google and was so excited to find instructional videos about how to make stop motion videos because, of course, videos about how to make videos are ubiquitous on the Internet.

Once Lulu had the camera app for the bargain price of $9.99, she was ready to flex her moviemaker muscles.  Except she quickly found out that stop motion is tedious as hell to produce.  But that only slightly deterred her.  She only threatened to throw her iPad out the window once.  I would have been so done long before that.

Lulu persevered like a champ.  And guess what?  She produced her own stop motion video.  It makes me a little dizzy to watch because she’s showing way too many frames per second, but we can fix that.

What happens when you have a kid who succumbs to frustration and shies away from a challenging endeavor?  Luckily I don’t need to worry about that.  Lulu’s dedication to achieving the final objective inspires me.  She won’t give up until she finds success.  At the tender age of eight, she already has the game of life down pat.

How can I ever be tempted to throw in the towel with such a source of inspiration surrounding me on a daily basis?

I Promise I’m Not An Author-Stalker!


I’m a little bleary-eyed as I write this.  It’s been a looooong day for me.  I woke up at 4:00 AM because I couldn’t breathe (damn forced air).  Then I tossed and turned for about half an hour before I gave up on any hope of getting a few more winks. 

By that time, my mind was on high alert and I got the brilliant idea for a high drama scene in my second book (still sans title because I’m only on page 30).  I logged a few notes in my iPhone but it just didn’t suffice.  I needed to get the words out, right then.  So I got a cup of coffee and clacked away on my keyboard for an hour. 

I love it.  It’s rough, but has so much emotion.  I’ll go through it again tonight and make some tweaks.  Only one tiny issue. I’m not exactly sure where it fits into the overall timeline.  I have a million ideas surrounding it on both sides, but I don’t know how to position it in the story quite yet.  That will come.  But the scene can work in so many ways.  I’m so excited to figure out how best to use it.

Today was an ultra-busy day and the next few look just as full.  My energy is all but sapped by now, especially after yelling and screaming about homework.  But I got a bit of a second wind after dinner, so I Googled how to become a bestselling author.  Just to get some ideas.  =)

I came across a blog post by an bestselling author and social media guru named Kristen Lamb with tons of great sound bytes about the trade.  I was hooked.  So I followed her blog, followed her on Twitter, commented on her post, commented on another post, and then she followed me on Twitter!  After some more Tweeting and re-Tweeting, I bought her book on Amazon – Rise of the Machines:  Human Authors in a Digital World.  Awesome cover, Kristen!

Even though I have a Kindle, I bought the paperback.  Yes, I’m one of those people who like to make notes on the pages, fold them down, highlight passages and revisit as needed.  I need the hard copy for all that.  It’s just my thing.

Anyway, I hope she doesn’t think that I’m some wacko author-stalker.  I’m just happy to connect.  =)

Getting To Know My Next Hero…It’s All About The Character Sketch


Liam Hemsworth

When I decided to write Unlikely Venture, I just WROTE.  I made some notes here and there but for the most part, I found out what was going to happen as I typed.  I didn’t have the whole story mapped out, didn’t use an outline.  But that style kind of suits me.  I’m impulsive so I don’t like wasting time on the planning.  I like to jump in feet first, headed straight toward the action.

I’ve learned a lot over the past year, though.  And I’ve determined that maybe a bit of planning can go a long way.  So, while I am taking a very short hiatus from my last set of edits, I delved into book 2.  I’ve been making notes everywhere, including on my iPhone as I drive (not advisable).  Sometimes to avoid potential fender benders, I call myself and just talk through my notes so I have a voicemail as reference.  Maybe it’s time to download a voice recorder app.

Anyway, I’ve been working on character sketches for my new book.  I didn’t create these up front with book 1; it wasn’t until my editor requested them that I actually sat down to learn about my characters.  I love the robust backstories that resulted from that exercise and a lot of the detail made it into the story.  Anyway, I now recognize the importance of planning.  I could continue my helper skelter writing and eventually, I’d spin out a new tale. But it would lack depth and breadth because I wouldn’t be intimately familiar with my cast of characters.  And that’s a necessity!  You need to be connected to these people to craft a compelling story about them.

So I’ve been working on Chris, my next hero.  But before I can write about him, I need to picture him in my head.  So I’ve been Googling and finally landed on this image.  It’s exactly how I see Chris in my head.  And you know what?  The backstory is just pouring out of me now.  I just needed to make that physical association before I could really understand what he’s all about beneath the surface.

This pic of Liam totally hits the nail on the head.  He is Chris.  =)


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