Do You Consider Yourself A Writer?

I come across many people who tell me they don’t know how to write. I point out to many of them that they got through school, some of them through college, and I know they had to do a lot of writing then because I had to do a lot of writing. Many people don’t see that as the same thing; oh really?

Writing
Pedro Ribeiro Simões
via Compfight

In school, you had to write to get grades good enough to pass. In business, you have to write well enough to try to get more customers. It may not be a blog post. It might be a short ad or a long ad. It might be a radio commercial. It might even be a flyer that you put on the wall of your own establishment. Everyone knows how to write something, and had to write something in the past; it’s inevitable.

What’s happened is that not everyone knows how to write well. Not as many people seem to pay attention to either spelling or grammar. I see errors of omission on a consistent basis and it’s shocking. If this was someone writing a letter to their friend, then there’s no problem. But is this the type of thing you want your customers to see? I think not.

There are basically two things that can be done to help correct writing issues. One is to hire someone else to do your writing for you. The other is to pay more attention to what’s being written.

For instance, with today’s computers and programs, almost everyone gets notified when a word has been misspelled by some kind of squiggly line. All one has to do is right-click on the word and see what choices are being given for correction.

When it comes to grammar, Microsoft Word has a couple of settings to help check for grammar, but the recommendations sometimes seem a bit stiff. Instead, what I find useful here and there is to read what I’ve written out loud; your ears will almost always hear something that doesn’t sound right.

I know I said 2 things but I’m going to add a third thing; giving more unexpected value! 🙂

The third thing is knowing what you’re writing about. For instance, there are tons of “make money blogging” blogs online but few of them actually make much money. To me, those people have no idea what they’re talking about. If they only talked about what they’ve tried and what didn’t work, like I did when I did my 6-part series some years ago about all the affiliate programs I was on, I’d give them more credence.

If you know your topic and can write about it, then you’re probably going to be pretty good, grammar and spelling notwithstanding. If you know how to tell a story you’ll be fabulous.

Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of time to get things right. Everyone doesn’t have to write like a pro; all anyone really asks for is that you write to be understood. If you’re in business, you have to remember that your words represent your competence in someone else’s eyes. If not, then do your best and your readers will feel it.
 

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Social Media Can’t Be Your Only Marketing

Often I talk about the need for businesses to get into social media so that they don’t get passed by because their competitors have gotten into the business. Whereas that’s true, what can’t be missed is that there must be a real world component to social media marketing.

The Other Cola (Peru)
Geraint Rowland via Compfight

For instance, say you make contact with someone because of your blog. Most probably they’re going to reach you by email or phone if you’ve remembered to add a contact page to your blog, or at least have a link to your business website, which should have contact information on it. This means that you’re following up with people in a more personal manner, whether it’s email or phone or, if you’re lucky, meeting someone in person.

I point this out because if your website or blog is so good that it actually does attract business, what you can’t take a chance on is that people are letdown by what they see once they’ve reached out to you. I don’t hide from anyone that I’m a one man operation, but some companies represent themselves as large corporations and suddenly find that they don’t have either the skills or resources to handle certain types of work that might come their way.

Another thing I’ve recommended businesses should do is follow both their business name and their industry on Twitter using hashtags. Many businesses have done this and have used the customer service potential to their benefit. However, what I’ve also seen is some companies using the opportunity to go on the attack rather than help their customers out, or reach out to a customer, answer the first query, then not follow up with any visible action.

Social media isn’t a game where business is concerned. Irk just one person, the wrong person, and you can believe that thousands will know about it soon enough. And when that happens, it’ll be hard for any business to follow up with all those other people to apologize, if it’s warranted, because they won’t know who they all are.

You can’t avoid social media because whether you like it or not, you’ll be pulled into it if you don’t act. It’s better if you make the decision to do it on your own. But be proactive across the board. Get it as right as you can. Your business will prosper and you’ll thank me later. 😉
 

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How Important Is SEO In Your Blogging Content?

I hear a lot of excuses from people when it comes to why they don’t blog all that often. Although I tend to believe that people have more to say than they think they do, I can understand how someone might think they’ll run out of things to say.

How to seo a website
SEOPlanter via Compfight

What I also hear is that people have no idea how to write for search engines, or the all-important SEO. I thought it was time to address the question of just how important SEO is to your blogging content.

Is SEO important? Yes, it’s absolutely important. How important it is in one’s blogging content is a different question entirely.

There are times when making sure that certain keywords are prominent in a blog post. One of the benefits of blogging is the fact that you’re actually building up prominence for your topics, or keywords that you want to be known for, by having a lot of content rather than having to keep drilling down on specific keywords or keyword phrases. So you shouldn’t have to go out of your way to create those keywords or keyword phrases if you know what you’re talking about.

For instance, even though I’m using the term SEO often in this particular post, if I decided to only use it once in any other post and linked that one time to something else on either my blog or my website, it would have as much power for my website as mentioning it in one post multiple times. The fact is that I have written on the topic multiple times on this blog throughout the years, so I should be covered, especially if someone’s wondering how it might relate to blogging.

In other words, the SEO properties of a blog don’t have to occur all in one post. One can spread out the process via multiple posts. That also means that your content can read naturally for both your visitors and the search engines, which is what everyone wants to see anyway.

Of course you will probably go somewhere else and read where someone has said how important it is to make sure that every single post you write is perfectly optimized. I’ve read lots of blog posts where they’ll tell you how many times you need to use certain phrases, that you need to add H1, H2, H-etc tags, and a whole lot of other tricks. Go find some of the big time blogs and check to see how often they’re employing these tricks within the articles; almost never!

I’m here to tell you that it’s much more important having consistent content than worrying about how you’re writing something. As long issue make it readable for your visitors, make it compelling, and have a style worth reading, your content and your search engine optimization processes will take care of themselves.
 

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Writing Articles That Gain Attention On LinkedIn

Back in March I wrote about a personal social media study I did in trying to increase my overall influence online. I mentioned in that post that I’d started writing articles on LinkedIn, and how it had started bringing me some attention.

Ylva Johansson
Socialdemokraterna via Compfight

At this point I have 21 articles there and I’ve started to see a pattern. There are some things that seem to help determine how many eyes are going to see what you’ve written.

I can’t guarantee that every post you write, even if you follow these rules, is going to get seen by more than 1,000 people like this post on getting unstuck did but there seems to be some rules to follow if you want as many people to see your posts as possible.

First, unless you’re a known entity or someone that LinkedIn has determined is a major influencer across the board, list posts seem to get viewed the most. It’s probably for the same reason they work so well on blogs; people like seeing something that they expect is going to have specific points that maybe they can identify with.

Turns out it doesn’t matter if you use an actual number or write it out as a word, but lists work well. Also, it helps if you bold your numbers in the article, whether it’s the word or the actual number (like I’m doing for this post).

Second, although this goes against the grain of how some people think, longer articles seem to get more attention, even if they’re list posts. My longer articles, which also have been list posts, have more numbers than all my other posts, and if you know me you know that I’m not normally about really short posts to begin with. Substance seems to be a big winner, so if you’re writing a long post make sure you have something to say.

Third, short titles don’t work well either. I’ve never really paid much attention to titles on this blog for every post but I’ve noticed that on LinkedIn you’ll get more eyes if your title is long enough to tell people what you’re writing about.

LinkedIn smurfs
Mark Jen via Compfight

Fourth, write articles where you’re offering something to help others. My posts that have helped someone in some fashion have garnered the most attention. Even on a post like this, where I gave 7 ways to tell if you’re a bad leader, got 400 views because there was a perceived value. Actually, there was a major value in this post but if you’re a bad leader you might not have picked up on it. lol

Fifth, it’s smart to have some kind of picture to put at the top of your article. They give you the opportunity to put a picture with the pixel size of 698×400. Just like with blog posts, images seem to help rather than having a big gap without anything there.

I have tons of pictures so I go through them looking for something I think might fit. Since all my pictures are much larger than that I can crop when I need to before resizing.

Sixth, don’t forget to do the spacing like most of us remember to do when we write our blog posts. It helps with readability.

Seventh, when you’ve completed your post LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to add 3 categories to your articles. However, you have to use the categories they give you if you go that route; if it’s not there then you don’t get to do anything.

I’ve found that the articles I’ve written that get the most attention are those that I haven’t categorized. What happens is that if your article is seen by enough people, and that magic number is usually at least 100 people, it’ll decide where to put it so you don’t have to. Truthfully, that works better anyway, and it takes the pressure off you to have to do it.

That’s pretty good stuff to consider if you’re just starting out or have been thinking about doing it. If I get anything more out of it I’ll certainly write about it here.
 

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Are You Trying To Make Money With Your Blog?

Are you trying to make money online? Are you trying to sell services or products? And are you trying to do any of this to your blog?

Independent
Christi Nielsen
via Compfight

I ask this question because there can be subtle differences between writing style based on what it is you’re actually trying to do.

For instance, writing about products that you’re trying to sell is a much different animal than trying to explain to people the types of services you provide.

When you’re writing about a product, you almost have to go step by step by first telling what the product is, how it works, why it’s so great and why someone might need to use it.

When writing about services, you’re not necessarily going to be as direct about them, at least most of the time, because that kind of hard sell for services usually falls on deaf ears. Instead, it usually involves a consistent set of scenarios that one puts up to show that they have expertise in that area so that people will get comfortable with the fact that they may know what they’re talking about.

One of the problems some people have when writing about products is that they forget to be conversational. Everybody loves stories, because stories are very conversational.

For instance, if you’re trying to sell a fishing rod, telling stories about being out on a boat in the middle of a bay while casting with your favorite fly and catching the trout you have always wanted to catch makes for a compelling story. A full description of the lure and the rod and the reel could make someone think that if they bought those things they might have the same kind of success or adventure. But most marketers don’t think that way, which is a shame.

As you’ve seen on this blog, I talk about a lot of different things trying to show my expertise, since I offer services. I do have a couple of products at the top of each of my sidebar, but those are only small pieces of my overall business.

Most of the time there’s a story tied in with the particular topic that I’m addressing on that day, and to be truthful I’m always hoping that one day one of those stories will pique the interest of somebody who’s looking for someone with my particular set of skills.

I hope for the same thing on my other business blog, while on my finance blog I keep trying to make it financially diverse hoping to attract advertisers. Of course that’s another way of making money, getting advertisers, but it can take a lot of hard work to have the right content to drive enough traffic to your blog to make it profitable for them.

As I always say, the point of every blog and every article is to either inform, educate, or entertain. If you decide that you’re looking to use it to make money or to promote yourself, then you have to be flexible enough to alter your text to try to accomplish your goals. When all is said and done that’s what marketing is all about.
 

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