Tag: blog posts

how-to-write-a-short-blog-post-with-a-big-impactThere are a million reasons to keep up a company blog. One of the main reasons is to position your company as an expert in your field. Sounds hard doesn’t it? It’s a daunting task, learning how to use a blog to make yourself an expert. There is a trick I am going to share that makes it quite easy. It’s not something that can be used with every blog post, but once every week or two it is worth putting out there.

Become A Source of Information

One way to position yourself as an expert is to be a go-to source of information for your field. Every week search out interesting articles, blog posts, and videos that are current and useful.

Take those articles and write extremely short blurbs giving an introduction to the article, and explaining why you, as an expert in your field, found it to be interesting and worth a read. Link to the article.

And that’s it. If potential clients know that instead of searching out their own information, they can come to your site, they are more likely to stop by. Plus, if you find truly great content to share, they will start to associate you with that greatness.

Find the Quality Content

The next question is obvious. Isn’t it hard to find great quality content? The answer is no. I’ll explain how.

Go to www.google.com/alerts. Put in what you think are a few keywords on your subject. If you’re a pet store and want to be known as an expert on how to keep pets healthy, some phrases to use may be: canine health, pet health, dog health, how to keep pets healthy, and so on.

Sign up to receive the alerts every day, and one day a week go through them, finding the best articles and writing up your blog post. Easy as pie.

You’ll still want to write posts on certain topics that you want to be an expert in. For example, today I’m writing a post on how to write blog posts, but perhaps next week my post will simple be a round-up of other posts on the same topic. It’s an easy way to get out quality content that paints you and your company as an expert.





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Is Proper Grammar Dead?

is-grammar-deadHave you heard the news? Nobody writes anymore! Grammar is going down the tubes! We might as well get rid of commas and apostrophes forever because nobody is going to know how to use them anyway.

Hi, my name is Rebecca, and I am a sensationalist. I would like to state for the record that I think people write more nowadays than they ever have in the past. We used to keep in touch via the phone, and now we keep in touch via email. You know what that means? We have to write!

In my line of work (writing), I tend to get a lot of questions on how important it is to have good grammar in this day and age of constant and instant communication. Isn’t texting ruining the entire English language?

I’m going to be the Debbie downer here (insert wah wah) but I think grammar is still extremely important. In order to deliver your message effectively, people need to know what you’re trying to say. And that’s where grammar comes in. Without the proper punctuation, capitalization, word tense, word choice etc. nobody is going to know what you’re saying (I even use the correct grammar while texting, but I realize that might be taking it too far.)

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but everyone still needs to learn the difference between their, they’re, and there, and know when to use commas, how to use semicolons, and so forth. They can use that knowledge to write content that rocks.

To take this to an even more relevant place is the idea of grammar in blog posts. Again, I’m going to be the bearer of bad news and insist grammar in blogs needs to be as perfect as it would be on a sales letter to a potential client. Because in the grand scheme of things, blog posts are sales letters to potential clients. Aren’t they?

So there are a few thoughts on grammar. I’m going to delve even deeper into grammar next week. If you’ve never read a post on commas that was so relevant and poignant it made you cry, then you haven’t lived.

What are your thoughts on grammar? Does it still matter as much? Do texting and constant emailing, Facebook updates, tweeting etc. make it less necessary? Am I wrong to assert grammar is still as important as it was, if not more so since we write that much more? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

p.s. Did you find any grammar mistakes in here? If so, it was a test. If not, I’m awesome.





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How to Master the Writing Process in 5 Simple Steps

how-to-master-the-writing-process-in-5-simple-stepsThe writing process is an important tool to master.  Having a guide to follow makes writing feel less daunting and more manageable.

Do you have a press release or newsletter you’ve been meaning to write for weeks or perhaps months? Do you blame it on being lazy, but really, you just have no idea where to start (plus, maybe you’re a little bit lazy)?

So where to begin? I’m going to break this down into five steps.

Brainstorming

The first step doesn’t even require you to write! You’re welcome. This step is simply to identify the message you want to get across and the best way to accomplish that. Is it an announcement about your company? That would work best in newsletter form, or perhaps a press release. Is it a musing on a new development in your industry? That works best as a blog post.

Once you know your message and your format, it’s time to write a topic sentence. You remember those from 7th grade, right? Write down once sentence that encapsulates the main idea you’re trying to get across. A lot of times, you can repurpose this for your headline.

An example: when thinking about this blog post, my topic sentence was:

To provide an informative, useful, and easy to follow guide to the writing process.

Writing

So now it’s time to do the writing. I always think of this time as rough draft time. It takes the pressure off. Another trick I use? I am not allowed to stop until my first draft is done. No coffee breaks, no phone calls, no email, and no bathroom breaks (unless it’s a true emergency).

I suggest you start the process by organizing your thoughts. Use headers as a guide.

An example: I knew my five steps before starting this post. It helped me corral my thoughts and be more effective.  Plus I write faster when I already know my main points and structure.

Revisions

This is where you’re going to spend the most of your time. Writing is time consuming, but revisions are legendary. So where to begin?

This is the time to take a good, hard look at what you’ve produced. Is part of it funny but the rest professional? That is going to confuse readers. Did you use jargon but forget to define it? Is it too long and nobody will get through it without losing interest? Is it too short and you didn’t get your point across? Do what you need to do in order to rework it, even rewriting parts if necessary.

An example: See the paragraph directly above this? Where I ask 4 questions in a row? It used to be 7. Way too many. I took some out and reworked the others to include everything I wanted to say.

Editing

The difference between revisions and editing is now you’re not changing the content, you’re perfecting your grammar, syntax, and word choice.

This is the stage where reading out loud to yourself is extremely helpful. You’ll catch weird flow, and if you use the same word too many times. You may even catch a stray comma that doesn’t belong.

Occasionally during this stage I’ll print out what I’m working on and read it off-screen. That’s usually for longer pieces, but it can be effective for catching mistakes.

And anyone who has previously read my posts knows I’m a huge proponent of the 24/48 hour rule. What is that you ask?

After I’m done pre-writing, writing, revising, and editing, I sit on my post. Not literally, but I close my word doc and I don’t open it for 24 hours. At that time I read the post again. If necessary, I rinse and repeat steps revising and editing.

If I’ve got the time, I wait another 24 hours and rinse and repeat again.

An example: I caught 2 grammar mistakes by reading out loud.  I used to instead of too.  And the second is too embarrassing to share.

The Finale

Congrats! You get to put all that hard work into the world for everyone to read. Or perhaps just 2-3 people, depending on who it’s going to.

If it’s a blog post, format it to the blog.

If it’s a newsletter, drop it into whatever e-mail marketing tool you use. MailChimp, Constant Contact, whoever.

If it’s a press release, make sure you know how those are supposed to be formatted and then submit it.

An example: You’re reading this, aren’t you?

This 5 step process is the one I use and the one I advocate. Is it too much for you? Did I just scare the bejesus out of you with too many steps? Do you have a process you use that works for you? I’d love to hear about it.





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Help Me Settle This Debate: Quantity or Quality

help-settle-this-debate-quality-vs-quantityI read hundreds of blogs a day. They fall into two categories: professional (blogs concerning social media) and recreational (interior design blogs). In the past few weeks I feel as though I’ve read half a dozen posts from various bloggers who are either trying to convince me that I should only blog when I have something truly amazing to say, whether that is once a week or once a month OR I should inundate my readers with content all day long. 5 posts a day! 10 posts a day! Why not 1,000,000 posts a day?

This debate has raged so long and had so many valid points made that I can no longer keep them straight in my head. So I am going to lay things out as I see them. The pros and cons of quality vs quantity. Perhaps seeing them in writing will help me figure out who is right — if anyone is.

Quality PROS:

- All posts will be of value to my readers

- The pressure to produce content every day is gone

Quality CONS:

- I provide my readers with less content

- Sometimes the pressure to write everyday leads to some really great content. With that pressure gone, will a lot of what are my favorite posts have never been written?

- Less content for the search engines to index

- Stats prove that blogs with more content are more popular

Quantity PROS:

- There is lots of content, both for readers and for search engines to index

- I have to be constantly aware of what is going on in the blogosphere in order to be inspired to write

- I write more and you know what they say, practice makes perfect

Quantity CONS:

- The content is not always my absolute best work

- As much as I’d like it to be, blogging is not the only part of my life.  If I didn’t have to put the time in every day to think of a topic and write a post, I’d have more time to put towards promoting my business in other ways.

- Readers can feel like they are being inundated with content

Truthfully, I knew where I stood on this issue before making my list. I just wanted to see if I was able to change my own mind. I wasn’t.

I am all for quantity. I think that providing fresh content day in and day out is a challenge, but one that pushes me to be better than I am. I hope I am providing value to those who read my posts, and if I’m not, then my guess is they’re going to stop following me anyway.

In case you were interested in some of the posts that sparked this post, here are two dueling view points, one from Chris Brogan and one from ProBlogger.

And just a last nugget of thought. Why do they have to be mutually exclusive? Why can’t my aim be to put out quality content every day? Is that such an illusive goal? I don’t think so.

What do you think? Do you have a strong view point on quality vs. quantity? Do you subscribe to either method? Did I miss any pros and cons?





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