General Blogging Tips
Monday, February 27th, 2012
Words are a terrible thing to waste. Yet, most writers carelessly throw words around with little regard for their usefulness. The truth is that most things I read could easily be cut in half without sacrificing any clarity. In fact, cutting the cutting in half would actually make it better. The message would be tighter, more focused, and more impactful.
I’m not just pointing the finger at other writers, by the way. I’m positive that I’m guilty of wasting words too. I look back on many old blog posts I’ve written and realize that I could have easily cut out huge chunks of fluff to make the post tighter and a better read. But the battle against circumlocution is one that nearly every writer struggles with. We’re addicted to words, and if our addiction is left unchecked, it can have fatal consequences (for our success, anyway).
So, how do you go about cutting the fluff from your writing?
- Know the purpose of the content—Before you write a single word, know the purpose of the piece. What’s the main message you want to convey? What supporting points need to be included in order for you to clearly convey this message? Write this down and refer to it later.
- Cut out anything that doesn’t contribute to that purpose—After you’ve written your first draft, take a look at what you wrote earlier about the purpose of the content. Refer to that as you edit your first draft. Delete anything that doesn’t contribute to that purpose. If it doesn’t belong, it’s muddling your message.
- Look for repetition—The majority of fluff comes from repetition. While repetition can be an effective literary device for emphasizing a point, more times than not, the writer has no need for saying the same thing twice.
- Eliminate weak, unnecessary words and phrases—Look for phrases like:
- In my opinion
- I think that
- You may want to consider
- Some people find that
You get the point. Weak, throwaway phrases like these usually add nothing to your writing. You can cut them and make your sentences much stronger.
Thursday, February 9th, 2012
Let’s be honest—most business blogs suck. See, companies have been launching blogs for a few years now just because “it’s the thing to do.” Everyone else is doing it, so they do it too. Normally, they launch a blog that only a few people read and that offers no benefit to their company.
What’s so terrible about most business blogs? Business blogs that suck often:
- Bring nothing new to the table—If people can read the content you’re publishing on dozens of other blogs in your niche, why would they bother reading your blog? If you want to build a loyal base of readers, you need to provide people with content they can’t find anywhere else. That doesn’t mean that you can’t focus on topics others are writing about. It just means that you need to find fresh angles and offer unique insights.
- Write for the search engines first—Blogging is still a great tool for increasing your search engine presence, but if that’s the only reason you’re blogging, you’re doing it wrong. Optimizing your blog is smart, but if you’re only focused on writing posts for the search engines, you’re going to end up with a low quality blog that no one is passionate about reading.
- Try to be someone you’re not—There are a lot of great bloggers out there who have truly special voices. Some are funny and witty, others are tough and biting. There’s nothing wrong with taking inspiration from other bloggers, but if you try to mimic their style and be someone you’re not, it’s going to ring false with readers.
- Never take a stand on the issues—Stop playing it safe. This is your blog. People read it because they want to know what you think about certain topics. Don’t try to be on both sides of the fence at once. Tell your readers what you really think. Offer your opinions and back them up with research and facts. Don’t apologize for what you think. Be strong in your convictions, whether people like them or not.
- Let spammers take over the comments—Comment moderation is an important part of blogging. If you don’t clean up your comments, readers will be turned off by all of the spammy comments. Simply put, it makes your blog look unprofessional and unmaintained.
If you want your business blog to be successful, avoid the 5 mistakes above.
Friday, January 27th, 2012
When you have a blog, you’ll attract all different types of readers, from those who just pass through one time to casual readers who come by occasionally to dedicated readers who subscribe to your blog and read every post. Clearly, your goal is to attract as many dedicated readers as possible, but that doesn’t happen instantly. Typically, you have to work on turning casual readers into dedicated readers over time.
Here are 5 ways you can transform a casual reader into a dedicate reader.
- Focus on creating a great reader experience—The quality of your content isn’t the only thing that matters. It’s the overall experience that keeps readers engaged and coming back. Your blog needs to have a clean, compelling design. You don’t want to annoy readers with pop-up ads, complicated registration processes, spammy comment section, etc. Focus on creating the best possible experience for your visitors.
- Make it easy for readers to subscribe and participate—The easier it is for someone to subscribe to your blog, the likelier it is that they’ll do so. Make sure your subscribe button is clear to see, and you can even include a call to action at the end of each post encouraging readers to subscribe. Also, make it easy for your readers to comment and share your posts on social networks. Don’t require them to register or complete a CAPTCHA to leave a comment. It’s annoying and kills their drive to participate.
- Interact with your readers—If you want readers to stick around and keep coming back, one of the best things you can do is interact with them. Respond to them whenever they leave a comment. Connect with them on Twitter and Facebook. This builds relationships and increases their loyalty to your blog.
- Give your readers a sense of ownership in your blog—Make your readers feel invested in your blog so they’ll keep coming back. Allow them to submit guest posts. Highlight the best comments. Ask them to submit ideas for topics they want to see you write about. Hold a contest. All of these things will create a community and make your readers feel like they own a piece of your blog.
- Be real—It’s the easiest blogging advice you’ll ever receive. Just be yourself. Write like you talk and let your personality shine through in every aspect of your blog. That’s how you’ll build a personal connection with your readers that keeps them coming back for more.
What’s your best tip for turning casual readers into dedicated readers? Share it by leaving a comment.
Thursday, January 26th, 2012
Growing a blog takes time, patience, and a lot of focus. You can’t just set it and forget it. You have to work on building your blog every single day. Of course, this can be much easier said than done. That’s why so many blogs fail. The blogger starts off with great enthusiasm, but over time, he loses focus and the blog begins to die a slow, painful death.
Here are 3 tips that will help you stay focused on your blog.
- Create a posting schedule—It’s important to have fun while blogging, but you also have to treat it seriously if you want to get results. One way to do this is to create a posting schedule and stick to it. You don’t have to publish new content every single day, but you do need to create a consistent publishing schedule that works for you. Whether that’s daily, 3 times a week, or weekly is up to you.
- Make a list of essential daily blog management tasks—What are the things you need to do to maintain and grow your blog? You need to write content, schedule it to publish at the right times, manage your comments, interact with readers, and drive traffic to your blog. Spend some time each day focusing on these essential tasks. Make it part of your daily schedule so that you don’t neglect it.
- Set milestones—If you’re blogging without any goals, you have no direction and subsequently you’ll lose focus. You need to have something to shoot for so you can stay focused each day on inching toward your milestones. Set goals for the number of subscribers you want to get, the amount of daily traffic you want to average, etc.
What do you do to keep your blogging focus? Share your best tips by leaving a comment below.
Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
You can’t have a blog without having content, and if you want to grow your blog over time, you have to keep publishing fresh, interesting content on a regular basis. This content isn’t going to appear out of thin air. Someone has to create it, and while you might be thinking of tackling this task all on your own, you may wish to consider the benefits of hiring a freelance blogger to help.
Here’s a look at just some of the benefits you can enjoy when you hire a well-qualified freelance blogger.
- Better quality content—Are you a professional writer? Probably not. The truth is that most people aren’t great writers. While you might think that the informal nature of blogging means you don’t have to be a good writer, that’s not the case. Good writing has nothing to do with formality; it has to do with the writer’s ability to connect with the reader in a meaningful way. A professional freelance blogger will be able to create better content than you’re able to.
- Frees up your time—Do you really have time to write blog content on a regular basis? You’re probably already wearing enough hats as it is, so there’s no need to don the blogger hat as well. Save yourself some time by letting a freelance blogger shoulder the content creation load.
- Only pay for the work you need—Thinking of hiring an in-house writer? You’ll have to pay a full-time salary, benefits, and everything else that goes with having an employee. By outsourcing your blog writing to a freelancer, you only pay for the amount of content you need…nothing else. It’s a cost-effective way to get new content.
- Fresh perspective—Sometimes, you can be too close to your subject matter. You’re so close that your perspective is greatly narrowed. By hiring a freelance writer, you can get a fresh perspective to tired topics.
- Avoid blogger’s burnout—Let’s face it, when you’re the only one writing on your blog day in and day out, it can get tiring quickly. If you’re all on your own, there’s a good chance you’ll get burned out and eventually give up on your blog. By hiring a freelancer to help carry the load, you can keep your blog going strong.
Do you have any experience hiring freelance bloggers? Tell us about it by leaving a comment below.