If You Need to Write Well Online: 5 tips

Writing tips
These days, everyone needs to be a competent writer. I work with many clients, helping them to hone their writing skills and become proficient.

If you need to write online, but aren’t comfortable with it, you can develop the writing skills you need.

These five tips will help.

1. Practice every opportunity you get — it’s all practice

Writing is a muscle. Just as with every other muscle, to strengthen it you need to practice.

At times, getting the words out is hard, even for professional writers. Only practice makes writing easier. If you need to write for your job, set aside 25 minutes every day, just to write.

Writers know that writing can be fixed. Stop trying to write well. Write anything… just get something down.

Writing is a process:

* Drafting
* Outlining
* Writing
* Revision
* Editing

Some writers draft before they outline, others outline first, then draft. To “draft” is simply to get something — anything — on the computer screen. You can’t fix it, until it’s written.

2. Write a description of each writing task

Writing tends to morph. You set out to write a blog post about 10 ways to do something or other, and before you know it, you’ve gone off at a tangent to write something else.

You need to corral your thoughts. Do this by writing a brief description of what you want to write. Indeed, a writing “brief” is just that, a description of a writing task. Your brief can be long or short. I like to write a brief as soon as someone gives me a writing project. I send the brief back to the client, asking: “is this what you want?” When the clients says “yes”, I know that I have the scope of the project.

3. Create a list outline

A “list outline” is a list of the points you will make in the article; if it’s a book, it’s a tentative list of the chapters in the book.

Nothing is set in stone at this stage. It can and will change.

Write something, anything. Writing is always discovery — you won’t know what you think, until you write it down.

I’ve found Sondra Perl’s composing guidelines useful for my students:

These writing guidelines will help you discover more of what is on your mind and almost on your mind. If they seem artificial, think of them as “exercises.” But they are exercises that will help you to perform certain subtle but crucial mental operations that most skilled and experienced writers do naturally.

4. Read the kind of writing you need to do

Read. Read what you want to write. Read anything and everything, from poetry, to prose, and graphic novels. Read the classics — 100 best books will get you started.

Read as much as you can. Read instead of watching TV — read.

5. Use spell and grammar check in your word processor

The spell and grammar checking utilities in your word processor aren’t perfect. They’re just useful, so use them. If you’re not sure of grammar, sites like this one can help.

Big tip: if you’re writing for a commercial site, rather than a personal website or blog, hire an editor to proofread your material. This is money well spent. Nothing destroys trust as quickly as dodgy word use and grammar on a commercial site, or in email.

Team Up 2013

Over time, the more you practice and read, the more comfortable you’ll become writing. If you need specific help, contact me.

Personal Branding: Write a Book, Or Write a Blog?

This question’s come up several times in my clients’ coaching sessions: write book, or write a blog?

If your primary aim is branding yourself, a blog’s better. Your blog will grow with you. Once you’ve written a book, it’s frozen in time, so if your aim is thought leadership, you’re better off blogging.

But are there too many blogs? This post, If You’re Serious About Ideas, Get Serious About Blogging – Dorie Clark – Harvard Business Review, says:

“Of course, it’s no secret that the number of blogs has shot up in recent years; at the end of 2011, there were 181 million, compared to only 36 million in 2006. It’s harder to get noticed as the noise level increases. But there’s reason to believe that serious (high-quality, idea-focused) competition in the blogging world is likely to wane in the future, further increasing your impact.”

You’re writing for a specific audience, so the total number of blogs doesn’t matter. You just have to find a way of getting your blog in front of your audience.

Look at it this way: when you write a blog, you’re writing your book as you publish. It’s simple to create a book once you’ve written your blog posts. And it’s fun, too.

Blogging gives you options. :-)

 

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Tumblr Advertising: It’s All About Community

Yes, I still love my Tumblr blog. Yesterday I wrote about why Tumblr is appealing to businesses (an engaged audience.)

Although it’s five years old, and has an audience of 165.5 million a month, according to this article, Tumblr’s next step: Become a real business | CES 2013 – CNET Blogs, Tumblr’s only just starting to pay attention to advertising, with a new strategy:

“That strategy is all about storytelling in a way that is holistic to the Tumblr community. Units are meant to be compelling and on par with high-quality television spots. On Tumblr, advertisers don’t have pages — they have blogs, just like regular users, which means brands must be creators and interesting contributors to the community in order to participate. For this reason, so-called self-service units are off-limits, said Gottfrid, who added that Tumblr is still undecided as to whether it wants to create a self-service component at all.”

Ad packages on Tumblr start at $25,000.

Even with my limited experience on the platform of just a few weeks, I can vouch for the fact that Tumblr fosters community. Tumblr recognizes that; it’s unique. Neither Twitter nor Facebook have the same kind of community feel. Google+ is trying for a similar cosy feeling with its Communities.

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Blogging When You Have No Time To Blog

Lazy Rich Blogger Fast Track

No time to blog? Me neither. That’s why I just started a new blog.

If that sounds like a paradox, it is. How can someone who has NO time to blog — because I have too many blogs already — commit to yet another blog?

Several reasons, the primary one being image marketing — Tumblr blogs make it very easy to post and repost images.

Image marketing was the big news of 2012; it’s important going forward — I owe it to my clients to stay up to date, and to figure out how they can use image marketing.

I just started my new Tumblr blog last month, but I’ve learned a lot already, so I’m glad I did it. Some of what I’ve learned is the interaction of Twitter, Pinterest, and a Tumblr blog. I’m a long way from formulating any theories, let alone any strategies, but it’s fascinating.

Blogging when you have no time to blog

Here are some ideas on how to blog, when you have no time to blog.

1. Get interested

Relax, I’m not asking you to create another blog. However, consider this: maybe the reason you have “no time” to blog is because you’re not interested in blogging, even though you realize that a social media presence would do a lot for your business. My new Tumblr blog has reenergized my blogging in general.

It’s reenergized the blogging of a couple of my clients, too. Tumblr has a very nifty iPhone app. You can take photos, shoot videos — it makes the blogging experience painless. Click, post, done — blogging in seconds.

2. Start your posts wherever you are

I was in the bank yesterday, and the queue was out the door. Usually when you’re stuck like that — you know you’ve got a delay and there’s nothing you can do about it — you get stressed.

I just pulled out my phone and tapped away, brainstorming ideas for blog posts in Drafts. Then I chose one of the posts, and created an outline for it, in another Drafts document.

Drafts

Drafts is the most-used writing app on my phone, and on my iPad, because you can write, and zoom your writing off to an email address, DropBox, Twitter, Evernote… almost anywhere you can think of. I usually send my draft blog posts straight to Evernote, so I can complete them later.

Although I spent 15 minutes in the queue, I got a lot done. By the time I hit a teller’s window, I was a little annoyed that I had to stop in the middle of writing a post.

All smartphones have notes apps. Use your notes app to start your blog posts anytime you have a spare minute or two. Not only will you be productive, you’ll also be a lot less stressed.

3. When you really have no time, blog on Twitter

Twitter can function just like a blog. If you truly have no time to blog, tweet. Sending a tweet takes seconds. Responding to tweets takes a little longer, but not that much longer.

You can blog, even when you have little to no time. If you want blogging help or advice, get in touch. I’m always happy to help.