Tag Archives: blogging tips

My 5 Best Blogging Tips After 15 Years of Instant Publishing

My 5 Best Blogging Tips After 15 Years of Instant Publishing

Everyone has blogging tips. After 15 years, so do I. I’m even more enthusiastic about blogging now than I was in the beginning. Truth to tell, when I started out as a blogger, I had no idea what I thought I was doing.

Other writers had opinions. The popular opinion was that I was a few sandwiches short of a picnic. “Write for free?!” Shock, horror and disbelief abounded. Yes, the generally derisive attitude towards blogging in those days was disturbing, but I wasn’t defensive. So blogging was weird; so what? I adored instant publishing then, as I do now. The idea that I could write something, and garner potentially millions of readers as soon as I hit Publish, thrills me.

Here’s what I’ve learned — in five blogging tips.  If you like, it’s what I wish I knew a decade and a half ago.

1. Be Yourself. You Can’t Be Anyone Else, and It’s Exhausting to Try.

You’re blogging for a reason – to promote your business, or a product, or a cause. (If you’re blogging for self-expression, you don’t need these tips. Let yourself go, and blog.)

Make a list of your goals. Most blog posts will include a Call to Action (CTA) to enable you to meet your goals. Beyond that, be yourself. The more you blog, the more traffic you will get.

Bloggers worry about how often then should blog. Mike Allton has the ultimate answer:

In order to finally answer this question, a business owner must first decide how much more traffic and leads they want. Using the data above, a business can look at what they’re getting from their website now, how much they want to improve, and quickly determine where they need to be with their blog campaign.

Blog as often as you can, and do the best you can on each blog post. Write the way you speak. Beyond that, don’t worry about it. I’ve written throw-away posts in 15 minutes which struck a nerve and got lots of responses. I’ve also slaved over blog posts which no one ever cared about – at least as far as I can tell.

2. Write Every Day. Some of That Writing Will Auto-Magically Turn Into Blog Posts.

I write every day. In my early years as a writer, I struggled with writing. Endlessly. I waited for inspiration… and waited. I waited to write books I wanted to write until I was a “better writer.” Finally, I gave up worrying about things I couldn’t control and wrote. I developed the writing habit, and a writing process which works for me, and my students.

If you say to yourself: “I’ll blog every day”, you’ll freeze. Just commit to writing something every day. Some of those snippets of writing will turn into blog posts. Use Evernote or OneNote to store your snippets. Then scan your snippets to see if they trigger anything when it’s time to write a blog post.

Create an editorial calendar, but don’t sweat it.

3. It’s Your Blog. Say What You Like (Be Kind!) Remember That You’re Responsible for Everything on Your Blog.

Some bloggers troll and write link bait. If that kind of thing appeals to you, ask yourself why. No, this isn’t a moral issue. To each his own. However, over the years I’ve come to appreciate Elwood P. Dowd’s philosophy:

Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” – she always called me Elwood – “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.

(If you haven’t watched the movie Harvey, go and watch it. James Stewart is wonderful in it.)

I recommend pleasant over smart, too. Be nice. You need other people, in this social media world. If you make trolling a habit, you’ll not only put off readers, you’ll alienate other bloggers.

4. Trust Yourself. If You Think It’s Important, It Is.

Trust yourself and your blogging. In 1999, I read blogs, and wanted to blog, but I couldn’t think of a reason. At the time, I was writing business books for Prentice Hall, taking care of my copywriting clients, and writing for magazines too. I was a busy writer. Why on earth would I want to take on unpaid writing?

Although I tried to talk myself out of it (others did too), I started a blog. I can’t remember what it was about. Nor do I remember the platform. Then I started a blog for a weekly ezine I wrote for creatives, Creative Small Biz. I liked it, and the ezine got subscribers via the blog. More blogging and blogs followed.

You don’t need anyone’s permission to blog, not even your own. If you’re inspired, blog. :-)

5. Be Interested. Enthusiasm Will Get You Everywhere You Want to Go.

Follow your passions. Yes, you’re blogging for a reason: to promote your business or whatever. You’ve got plenty of leeway inside your basic parameters. You can include your private life in your blog, or not, it’s up to you. As long as “cat” (irrelevant) posts don’t take over your blog, you can blog about anything you choose.

Of course, if you’re a lifestyle, or “mommy” blogger, you’ll blog about your insights with your life as your source material.

Whatever you choose to blog about, be passionate, and stay enthusiastic. Your enthusiasm will make blogging easy.

So, there you have it. My best tips after 15 years of blogging. Have fun with your blogging.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Not in the Mood: 3 Blogging Tips To Get Over Bloggers’ Procrastination

Not in the Mood: 3 Blogging Tips Get Over Bloggers’ Procrastination

Not in the mood to write a blog post? Although I love blogging, half the time I’d rather be reading – or doing something else undemanding. If you allow it, procrastination can kill your blog. For hobbyist bloggers, that’s okay. It’s not okay if your job or your livelihood depends on writing more content.

Check out these three blogging tips for those times you’re just not in the mood.

1. Get Inspired by Google Suggest – Tip Toe Through the Alphabet.

Google’s the savior of recalcitrant bloggers. Hie yourself off to Google, and enter a topic – any topic. Add the letter “a.”

google suggest

As you can see in the image above, I entered “blogging”, plus “a.” I haven’t anything to say on blogging away debt, but I could create a post on any of the other three ideas, even if I wasn’t in a blogging mood.

2. Write a List of Words. Use Them in Your Blog Post.

Challenge yourself. Write a list of words – any words. Author Ray Bradbury used nouns:

These lists were the provocations, finally, that caused my better stuff to surface. I was feeling my way toward something honest, hidden under the trapdoor on the top of my skull.

You can use any words you like. Example: summer, drizzle, sly, sky blue, river, petunia… Now write a blog post, and include those words. Or not, your choice.

Writing a list of words primes the pump. You’ve given the logical side of your brain something to think about. Before you know it, the creative side of your brain gets in on the act, and you’ve written a blog post.

This exercise works well if you need to create your editorial calendar for the month.

3. Temper, Temper – Think About Something That Annoys You.

Got a temper? Me too. I’ve calmed down over the years, but I can create a list of annoyances which get me into a temper without any effort.

Think of something which annoys you. No, don’t blog about that. Use the energy and make a word list. Anger is just energy, and you can direct it anywhere you like. Direct that anger into creating a blog post. Tip: keep your post positive.

So there you have it. Next time you’re not in the mood, try one of these blogging tips. They’re fun.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

photo credit: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via photopin cc

Create A Blog The Minimalist Way (For Blogging Haters)

Angela Booth Roon blog

My new blog on Roon… I couldn’t resist it…

 

You hate blogging, but you want to create a blog. These days, you can blog anywhere. Quora lets you create a blog, and you can create a faux blog on Google+. Many other sites encourage you to blog with them. But what if you want to create a blog on something you own, rather than on a social network?

While doing some research for a project on Markdown, the so-easy-it’s-a-joy text-to-HTML conversion tool, I came across some simple options for creating your own blog, completely for free, simply and easily.

Not a Markdown aficionado? If you’re not familiar with Markdown, relax. A Markdown document is just a text file with Markdown syntax; saved with either .md or .markdown file extension. It takes a minute or two to learn Markdown syntax, and hey presto – your writing life got a lot easier. As Brett Terpstra says in his two minute explanation, Markdown fits in any workflow.

Let’s look at three ways you can create a blog you love the minimalist’s way.

1. Try Calepin, if you’re a Dropbox user.

Calepin
If you’re a Dropbox user, great choice, Calepin is for you. Read the Calepin page, and you’ll find a link to this example of a Calepin blog.

Jon Mitchell’s written a paean to Calepin in a little tutorial.

2. Got a website already? Dropplets offers free no-hassle blogging.

Dropplets

If you’ve got a website already, Dropplets gives you a simple, no-hassle totally free way to blog. You just upload the contents of the Dropplets ZIP file to your server. Open your new website in a browser, and follow the prompts.

Then you simply create your blog posts in a plain text file, using Markdown, then upload it to your server using the Dropplets uploader.

Here’s a demo of a Dropplets site. Dropplets comes with a free template, and you can buy a premium template from the Dropplets marketplace.

3. Roon: just gorgeous. Easy, and free.

Roon

I hit the Roon website, and couldn’t resist creating a blog. As if I didn’t have enough blogs already. Never mind. My Roon blog will fit into my life somewhere. Here’s my Roon blog.

Roon creates gorgeous blogs, as many as you like, for free. You can buy add-ons like your own domain name, and an analytics package, for a small charge.

Let’s see what Roon looks like in action, in the image below. Here’s the backend of Roon. It’s simple, and gives you lots of space to write, right in your Web browser. Click around the various areas, it takes just a minute and you’ll see how everything works.

Roon backend

Ready to publish? Hit the Publish link on the top right, and you’re done. Here’s my first published post on Roon. Blindingly simple to create. Write, upload an image if you wish, and you’re done.

In the backend, you’ll see your published and draft posts in the left sidebar.

If you want to create a blog, but can’t face the hassle of either creating a blog, spending hours choosing a theme, and then the endless updating, let alone writing blog posts, you need a minimalist option. Choose one of the three options above. (And if you’re already a blogger, be wary of Roon — or you’ll be the proud parent of another blog before you know it.)

, and on Twitter: @angee

Business Blog Tips: Fresh Traffic From Older Content 3 Ways

Business Blog Tips: Fresh Traffic From Older Content 3 Ways

You love your business blog, and it’s an essential marketing tool. However, you’re missing out on traffic. Google’s serving up personalized content, and if content isn’t fresh it’s dead. Although you have great content, it’s unappreciated, because no one sees it.

Here’s the key to making the most of older content – plan to revisit and revive it. It takes less time to polish older content than to create brand new material.

Let’s look at how you can turn older content into a traffic generator.

Tip: while you’re revising, update your calls to action (CTA).

1. Revise older content, and republish it.

How much content do you have? I have several thousand posts on some of my blogs, so this year I’m making a concerted effort to bring back older content that’s appropriate and valuable for my audience today. If your blog’s older than a few months, your visitors will completely miss the content you published when your blog was brand new and you had little traffic.

While you revise, you can add new content as appropriate. If you’ve changed your mind about something in the original post, create a heading: “Updated in 2014”, then add your new information and insights.

Add internal links as appropriate to fresher content. If you’re using WordPress, consider using a related posts plugin.

2. Create new content, linking to your older content.

Keep a list of the content you’ve freshened. You’ll get story ideas from it. Then, when you create the new content, quote and link to your older content.

If you have posts you’ve written in series, turn them into ebooks, and offer them as downloads. One of my blogging friends has been collecting her series posts into ebooks, which she offers in EPUB and MOBI format, as well as in PDF. Here’s a comparison of ebook formats; they tend to be confusing. In a nutshell: MOBI’s for Amazon’s Kindle, EPUB is for everything else.

3. Create roundup posts, linking to older posts.

Large blogs which post multiple times daily offer round-up posts on a specific day of the week. Consider doing a roundup once every couple of weeks, or once a month, going forward.

You can create roundup posts at any time that it’s worthwhile for your readers. If you’ve been getting lots of questions about something you’ve covered before, create a roundup post on the topic. For every person who asks a question, ten others will have the same question.

A “this time last year” roundup post brings back content today’s visitors haven’t read; you can create these kinds of posts if you’re too busy to create new content for your blog.

Your business blog is an asset; so are its archives. Make the most of them.

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, and on Twitter: @angee

Blogging Tips: 5 Easy Tips To Simplify Your Business Blogging in 2014

Blogging Tips: 5 Easy Tips To Simplify Your Business Blogging in 2014

Love blogging or hate it, it we’re all looking for tips which will simplify our blogging. Although I’m in the “love” camp, I have lots of other writing I need to do, so I look for shortcuts.

Here are my top tips to help you to blog more effectively in 2014, so that you can turn your blog into a powerful marketing tool for your business.

1. Before you start writing, decide what you’re selling.

We discussed thinking about conversions, rather than traffic. Ideally, each blog post you create will have a call to action. If you ask your visitors to do something, some will.

Way back in 2004, when blogging started becoming mainstream, commercial blogging was frowned on. A little of that “content for content’s sake” mindset remains. You don’t need to blog with a “buy this!” mindset, but you do need to include a call to action.

Tip: each month, look through your list of posts, and edit your calls to action. Your business and marketing goals change over time. Update your blog posts to reflect this.

2. Batch-create, always.

If you’re creating a blog post, you might as well create two. Or more. Here’s the key to batch-creation: always have blog posts in draft form.

This simplifies business blogging, because your brain hates unfinished tasks:

After starting a task, your brain will be more enticed to finish it to its “conclusion.” You also tend to see that it’s not as big a mountain as you initially imagined, and that the work involved in completing this task won’t be so terrifying after all.

Here’s how this works. Let’s say you’re writing a blog post. Create a list of keywords for the posts, as you usually do. Then in addition to the article you’re writing, begin another couple of articles.

As the old saying goes, “well begun is half done”. Just writing working titles, and a couple of sentences for each draft, helps you to conquer procrastination.

Add the drafts to your editorial calendar. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you complete the posts you’ve started.

3. Before you create, decide how you’ll get more value from each blog post.

You can get more value from a blog post by: using it in a short report or ebook, creating a podcast or video from it, or by using it in your company newsletter.

4. Write fast, edit at leisure.

Writing and editing are two separate mental processes. If you try to combine these two processes, you’ll get frustrated, and will decide you hate blogging.

Batch-creating comes into play again. Give yourself 20 minutes to write a quick draft. Use a timer. I like Repeat Timer Pro. Then spend ten minutes adding content to a couple of your draft posts.

You can edit your posts another day, or later in the same day. I always say that professional writers expect to write cr*p, because they know they can improve on what they’ve written. You write to discover what you think. Just get something written, and let your subconscious mind do the grunt work.

5. Get out of your office: use your camera.

Your cell phone camera is an amazing blogging tool, so get out of your office, and wander around, snapping some photos.

It doesn’t matter much what you photograph. Your photos act as triggers to your inspiration. You can use them on your blog, or not, it’s up to you, but if you frequently find yourself thinking: “I don’t know what to blog about”, take photos. Your images will inspire you.

Try these simple blogging tips. They work. You may discover that you love blogging too. :-)

write a book book coaching

 

, and on Twitter: @angee

Blogging Tips For People Who Hate Blogging: 5 Easy Keys To Success

Blogging Tips For People Who Hate Blogging: 5 Easy Keys To Success

Do you hate blogging? Let’s look at some blogging tips which will help you to turn your blog into a powerhouse marketing tool. It’s easier than you think.

Start by considering how your blog appears to you. Perhaps it seems like a time sink; alternatively, you may look on it as a way to take your business to the next level.

Use these five keys to unlock the power of your business blog.

1. Consider your goals, then commit to a schedule.

Make a list of outcomes you’re looking for in 2014: increased traffic, better conversions, enhanced visibility… If this sounds complicated, keep it simple.

Create a statement: “In 2014, our blog will help our current customers by ________. It will attract new customers, who will see our business as __________.” Your statement summarizes your goals, and because it’s brief and to the point, you’ll remember it.

Put this statement where you’ll see it, on a sticky note perhaps. Use Google Analytics to track your results.

Then decide how often you’ll blog. You don’t need to commit to a schedule. If you do however, blogging will be easier.

2. Your blog is a publication: vary your content.

Blogging is instant publishing. Your blog is a publication and just like a magazine, and can have several contributors.

In 7 Steps To Make Your Blog A Marketing Machine, Heidi Cohen suggests:

Outline a series of on-going content columns. Extend the information you’re going to cover in terms of categories. Go a step further and think like an old fashioned magazine to create a set of regular features related to the focus on your content marketing strategy.

It’s excellent advice. Magazines have two primary forms of content: editorial, and advertising. Use both. This speaks to Tip 5: inspire action with your blog posts.

3. Collect a team, and add them to your editorial calendar.

When a client tells me he hates blogging, it’s because he’s taken the entire burden on his own shoulders. You need a team, and you may need to bribe people, or hire them. If you haven’t considered soliciting guest posts, consider it now. Ask members of your staff to volunteer (bribe them). Reach out to colleagues, suppliers, and even investors if you have them.

Consider reaching out to other bloggers too. Cast your net widely.

Make a list of possible contributors, and reach out to them. When you get a contributor, add them to your editorial calendar.

4. Reward yourself when you hit blogging milestones.

Set up blogging milestones. Your milestones can be anything you choose, and can involve traffic, and conversions. Or perhaps your milestones will be the number of social shares, or even  the number of posts you create.

They can be public, or private, as long as they’re meaningful. Rewards make good bribes for your contributors.

Make a list of milestones, and of rewards.

5. Remember to inspire action with every blog post.

What do you want your blog’s readers to do when they check out a posting on your blog? Perhaps you simply want to give them additional information about a product. You needn’t spend all your time discussing products’ features and benefits however.

If you’re selling oven ware for example, there’s no need to confine yourself to talking about your various products. You can talk about famous chefs, give recipes and tips, or post photos and videos of readers’ kitchens. The possibilities are endless, as long as you remember to inspire action.

Create a blogging template. At the bottom of the template, type: ACTION! (Include the exclamation point.)

 Become a full-time, or a part-time blogger

Blogging Maestro is a complete program: it will get you started on a new career.

, and on Twitter: @angee

8 Easy Writing Tips to Improve Your Blogging and Make Sales

8 Easy Writing Tips to Improve Your Blogging and Make Sales

Are you making sales from your blog? You’ll have many reasons for blogging, but those reasons break down to the nitty-gritty: sales.

The following writing tips will help you to improve your blogging and SELL.

1. Think: “What’s in it for them?” (Consider the takeaway first.)

The takeaway is your readers’ reward for reading, so promise the reward in your headline.

Think about your audience. What do they need? What attracts them to your blog post? They must know WIIFM (what’s in it for me). If this isn’t obvious, they won’t read beyond the headline.

Tip: avoid cheating readers with misleading headlines. We discuss this in #5.

Your headline attracts them; your takeaway keeps them reading, and eventually, you’ll make a sale, but rarely directly. Your blog’s a publication, just like a magazine. Magazines have editorial content, and advertising. Sponsored content aims to break down the divide. As the New York Times article points out:

“In native advertising you can get double-digit click-through rates,” compared with the 0.01 percent click-through rate sometimes seen with display ads, Mr. Knapp said.

(“Native advertising” is just another label for sponsored content.)

Action Tip: write your post’s goal, and its takeaway on a sticky note before you start writing. It helps you to focus.

2. Remember your call-to-action.

Your call-to-action can be anything you like. You may ask:

  • For a comment;
  • Your readers to tweet, or pay with a tweet;
  • Your readers to contact you;
  • Your readers to check out an offering…

3. Write to be understood. (Confused readers don’t buy.)

As you know, readers skim your content. They skim the sub-heads to see what’s in it for them. Before you start writing, know what you want to say. Then write to be understood.

Dale Carnegie allegedly said: Tell the audience what you’re going to say, say it; then tell them what you’ve said.

You don’t need to go that far, but YOU need to know what point you want to make. Many blog posts start out well, then leave you with a “huh?” feeling at the end. The writer wandered off-track, and never made his point.

Short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs all help. Fast Company’s article, AN ARTICLE HAS A LIFESPAN OF 37 DAYS, AND OTHER FINDINGS FROM POCKET, makes fascinating reading.

4. Proofread… Keep a dictionary handy.

Proofread your posts, and look up words in a dictionary. Sometimes words mean the opposite of what you think they mean. This speaks to clarity, above.

5. Creative or clever? Be usefully creative.

If you use a discovery app like Prismatic, you soon get the sense that some bloggers are trying too hard: Genghis Khan’s ten rules for blogging etc. (If this is someone’s real blog post, I’m sorry. I didn’t look up the phrase on Google, so I have no idea whether someone’s written this. I apologize in advance, because someone will write this.  It’s inevitable…)

Advertising master David Ogilvy famously said, “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative,” and “I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information.” Aim to be informative: useful.

Remember that your aim in blogging is to sell; creativity for its own sake is pointless, see tip #3.

6. Create a checklist for blogging.

Create a checklist for blogging. Your checklist could include:

  • Brainstorm blog post titles;
  • Create an outline;
  • Research;
  • Write the first draft;
  • Find or create graphics…

Your checklists and editorial calendar make blogging easier, and more effective, especially if you add items like: “create a goal” and “remember the takeaway.”

7. Arouse your enthusiasm. (Boredom comes across in your words.)

Are you bored? Snap out of it! Never blog when you’re feeling bored, it comes across in your words. Arouse your enthusiasm. When I feel bored, and know I need to write anyway, I read PG Wodehouse, or play a computer game. I love Wodehouse’s word play; he always inspires me.

8. Become a consistent blogger: create an Idea Bank.

Create ten ideas a day. You’ll soon have all the ideas you’ll ever need. Use Trello, it makes organizing your blogging easy.

When you deliberately force yourself to come up with ideas, and organize those ideas, you’ll become a consistent blogger. Store your ideas in Evernote, so that you can access them wherever you are.

So there you have it: eight easy writing tips to improve your blogging, and make sales.

Want more ideas? Check out Blogging Maestro.

 

, and on Twitter: @angee

Blogging Without Fear: 5 Easy Forms of Content You Can Create FAST

5 Easy Forms of Content You Can Create FAST

Scared of blogging? If blogging terrifies you because you have no idea how you’ll feed the content beast, relax. It’s easier than you think. All you need is a little inspiration, and a dash of creativity.

Let’s look at five easy forms of content you can create fast, and without breaking a sweat.

1. Gimme a tip: everyone loves tip posts, so share your tips with abandon.

This is a tip post. I create them because I’m a sucker for ALL tip posts, especially if I know an area well. Curiosity drives clicks – readers want to find that single GEM amongst your tips which will help them.

2. Tips and more tips: expand on your tip posts with additional tips.

Written one tip post?

Write another one. I could write another tip post to follow this one: Another 5 Easy Forms of Content You Can Create FAST. And I could write another one after that. Tip posts are fast to create. You know what the post’s structure is; just write your tips.

Here’s the benefit of writing tips in an area: you can collect all your tips into a HUGE “everything you want to know about Topic X” tip post. An example: 101 Easy Forms of Content You Can Create FAST.

Then, I could publish the “everything” tips as an ebook. Or chop them up and create videos from them.

The tips magic needn’t stop there. You can break out each one of your tips in any post into:

  • A new blog post, expanding on just one tip – if your original post contained five tips, you could break out the post into five articles. Or more.
  • Social media snippets. You can get lots more value of each tip, sharing more insights on each tip on social media.

Think of each tip post you create as a fruit tree. You can pick lots of fruit from the trees in the orchard of your blog.

3. Keep it short, sweetie: just the facts and the takeaway.

Some of my most popular posts on my blogs are asides – 25 to 50 words on something I wanted to share quickly. These posts are wonderful, because they’re FAST.

Here’s the key to short posts: value. You need to be clear – explain what you’re sharing and why it’s important. Your short post also needs a takeaway: something the reader can try out and use right now. Alternatively, your post needs to be entertaining. If you can do both: provide information and entertainment in an aside, you’re golden.

4. Go BIG with images: a picture gets the feeling across, and helps readers remember you and your post.

Have you discovered Pinterest? Pinterest is a wonderful marketing tool, and it teaches a great lesson: ATTENTION is what counts. Images get attention, so use big, bold images to add emotion and another layer of meaning to your blog posts.

You can share your image posts on Pinterest, and Google+. Great images will spice up your content.

5. Create link posts. They’re fast to create AND they bring traffic.

As popular as asides are; link posts are just as popular. (That’s annoying sometimes. You slave over content, and then a short and simple LINK POST gets more attention. ;-))

You can post a single link with a short comment, or a collection of links.

Bonus tip (for longterm bloggers): Polish up the past. Scour your archives for great material you can update.

If you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ve got lots of wonderful content. Sadly, it’s buried. Bring it back to life. Create “one year later” or “this time last year” posts to bring attention to your hidden gems. (Add a glitzy image for even more attention…)

I shared these five content-creation strategies with some of my blogging students. The general reaction was: “I can do that!” So, if these tips work for new bloggers, they’ll work for you too. :-)
, and on Twitter: @angee