Tag Archives: Writing

The Ethics Of Your Writing

Last summer, Peter and I noticed that one of our blogging friends seemed to be posting things that were lifted from another source. They were word for word what was on another website; we considered that a serious breach of ethics.

fountain pen
Phil Hilfiker via Compfight

I finally had the opportunity to ask him about these posts, telling him that I had noticed that they were the exact same thing is on some other websites. He told me that he had purchased some PLR (private label rights) articles and was using them because he didn’t have time to write anymore but wanted to keep new content on his website. I pointed out that it didn’t look right, and that when people usually use PLR articles that the idea was to modify them so that they would become one’s personal articles.

As some of you know I now offer writing and blog writing services as part of my business. With one of my blogging clients, I knew his industry really well, so I didn’t have to do much research with it. With most of the other writing that I’ve been doing, there has been a fair amount of research. What you start to find out is that as you read on the subject enough times, you start to get the feeling that you know it fairly well and can pretty much write totally original content more than half of the time without having to do any research at all.

But there are those times when you have to do some kind of research. On most topics, what I will do is think of what I want to write about, pull up four or five resources, read them all, and then start writing. If the majority of the resources quoted exact same information, then I would use that exact same information, but will alter the words if it’s possible.

Sometimes it’s not; if you have a list of things that have to go in a particular order, you’re pretty much stuck using what’s there. For instance, I once wrote an article regarding something called “revenue codes“, which is a health care term. I listed a whole bunch of numbers and descriptions, and no matter what resource I might have had to look at, those numbers and descriptions would have been the exact same everywhere.

I think when it comes to writing there has to be some kind of ethical standard that a writer has to have. It doesn’t do a writer any good to copy blocks of words from someone else’s articles without giving them attribution. One of the gripes I’ve written about often on this blog is seeing people on other blogs saying the same thing over and over that they got from another blog.

True, there may not be many new ways to say “create great content” when talking about ways to improve one’s blog or to encourage visitors to stop by, but that’s part of the essence of what writing is supposed to be about, that being creativity. I’m sure that someone else has probably written about ethical writing in the past, but I’m also betting that no one is ever written about it in quite the same way that I’m writing about it right now. That’s the kind of thing that makes us all unique.

There’s also the question of rewriting articles. Many people believe that’s unethical, because they’re taking one source and basically saying the exact same thing that someone else said only in a different way. I have kind of a different take on that one also. I have rewritten my own stuff from time to time, and as I am the original source for that information, I have no qualms about doing that rewrite.

I also think that it depends on what you’re writing as to whether doing a rewrite of something is ethical or not. For instance, if you’re writing something about a new story you read, and you can only find that information in one place, I don’t think there’s anything unethical in writing that in a different way; after all, that’s news, and it’s what all the major newspapers around the country do when they get those newsfeeds from places such as the AP and Reuters. I do that on my finance blog all the time, although I also didn’t comment on those stories which make them unique.

What are your thoughts on ethical writing? Do you think I’m too strict, too lenient, or something else? Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂
 

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How I Write Blog Posts

Lately I’ve been seeing a rash of posts on blogs that are telling people how to write blogs. Of course, I have my own blogging tips, which I hope some folks have checked out here and there, but what I’m seeing are the same tips over and over from other people.

Let’s face this fact; just how many times do you want to read “first come up with a keyword rich topic, then write a keyword rich article on your niche?” No matter how many times you read that and how many ways someone tries to write it, nothing is different. How different is reading “write in your niche so that people will find you on search engines?”

I’m not saying it’s not true; I’m just saying it’s boring seeing the same thing over and over. And I’m not saying what I’m about to write is any better than what you’ve seen someone else say. But it will be different, and I’m thinking that’s my little niche. Let’s begin.

Believe it or not, the longest part of my blogging is trying to figure out what I want to write about. For someone like me, that doesn’t often take long. For this blog, since I pretty much write about what I feel like, it doesn’t usually take me longer than a couple of minutes. The same for my business blog, because I know my topic there. For my finance blog, it takes a little longer. I usually scour the news to see what feels like it might be interesting enough for me to expound upon, then I’m ready to go.

The next step, if needed, is the research. For instance, when I wrote my post the other day on my 13 favorite singers, that one took a long time to put together because I had to first list my singers, go find the videos for each of them, and then find the product links for each artist. For the last post, 34 questions, I had to actually answer the questions first. I could have answered them once I started writing, but I had some formatting I wanted to do so I answered them before I posted everything. For my finance blog, research is always essential, because I don’t want to use only one news source to write those articles from.

Next it’s time to either start writing or paste certain things into the writing area. When I’m writing, I go into my zone and just write, and I don’t usually stop until I’ve finished the article. That’s why it doesn’t take me all that long to write. If I have an opinion on something, my mind just puts things in the order I want to talk about them in and I go for it. Kind of my own Mozart thing going on. If I’m just pasting something, most of my work is already done.

Now it’s time for my internal linking. I don’t have full recall of every article I’ve written, but obviously I know my topics. So I go back through my topics to search for articles I’ve previously written on a topic. The internal linking serves two purposes One, it helps my site show off previous material that I’m hoping someone might be interested enough in to want to check it out. Two, at least on my finance blog, it helps with the SEO in reinforcing topics I write about there. This blog does okay in the search engines, but it probably will never get its PR back, which means probably only my affiliate advertising will ever be here, whereas that blog has a high PR, does okay on Alexa, and if I can increase the visits a bit more it’ll be prime property for financial advertisements.

Next is something I don’t always do, but I will check for it. Since everyone says text advertising is supposed to be so great, I go back through my words to see if there’s anything I said that can link to a product. Then I go looking for a product that I can link to and add that link, with the new blue lines.

The next to the last piece is trying to decide what I’m going to highlight at the bottom of each post. Will it be a product? Will it be just a banner ad of some sort? I certainly have plenty of stuff to choose from, so that usually doesn’t take much time either.

And now, the final pieces of the puzzle. I go to All-in-one-SEO and I write something in the description box on what the piece is about. I type in my keywords. Then I go up and type in my tags for the post, which is something I just started a few weeks ago. I select the overall category for the post. The last thing depends on if I’m posting the article immediately or on a delayed basis. If I’m delaying the post, I set the schedule for when I want it to post. Sometimes I write my posts a couple of weeks in advance, so that works great.

And there you go. Now, it takes me less than 5 minutes to write a post, but all the other stuff I add on is what builds up the time. It may eventually take me 10 to 20 minutes to fully complete a post, but that’s okay because the possible rewards for the extra stuff are worth it if you ask me.

Now, whether you fully agree or not, wasn’t that better than the cookie cutter posts you see all the time? 🙂
 

The Secret Is There’s No Secrets

Back in March, I wrote kind of a rant post on people who keep writing these posts about driving massive traffic to one’s blog. In it, I griped that these people keep writing the same thing, almost to the point where I wondered if people are just copying what someone else says without putting any real thought into it.

Six months later, I’m still seeing the same kind of thing, only these days people are couching it within the phrase “The Secrets To…” or something like that.

I read a couple earlier today, knowing what I was going to see and was still irked by it. One talked about how to get more visitors to your blog. The other was about how to get free advertising to one’s blog. Both are the same exact things I’ve seen before; nothing new, and not even written all that originally. Like I said, it’s as if people are just copying it from someone else’s site.

Now, I’ll be a little bit fair. Maybe, to someone, this is all new information. It’s just hard to believe, after I’ve been doing this for so many years, that this is new stuff for all that many people, especially the people who are writing it. And, to be fair again, I guess the other problem is that there’s not really much new that anyone can really offer on most of these subjects.

I mean, really, what’s new that someone can come along with to help drive traffic to their blogs anyway? The only things I really haven’t seen much of is sending email to everyone in your email address book asking them to visit your blog, leave a comment, and invite others to stop by. That’s something I’ve done, but only when I feel I’ve written a post that deserves a bit of attention. I’ve never asked anyone to Digg or Delicious or anything else to my posts other than sharing them. I do have that little thing above the comments box where people can do it if they so choose, and I do appreciate it when it happens (though I’m not on Digg or Stumble Upon, so I always wonder how I get traffic from those two places).

The other thing is to try to do offline marketing to see if you can drive people to your blog. I’ve seen postcards sent out to get people to visit websites, but never a blog. I’m thinking the costs of doing it would be prohibitive; after all, those costs are prohibitive when you’re using that kind of marketing for other reasons to begin with.

So, like the myth of “You Can Make 100,000 A Day If You Buy This Program,” the myth of “The Secret Of” is just that; a myth. Now, this isn’t to be confused with something I talk about all the time, that being the movie The Secret, something I’ve mentioned often but never really written about; I’m going to have to get that done soon, probably on my other blog, as it talks about the Laws of Attraction, and I need to have it bringing more people to me than sending people elsewhere.

So, we’re agreed? No more belief in “secrets of” other than what I’ve put below?

The Secret



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Creative Content Marketing

First, today is my 12th wedding anniversary, so I give my wife a shout out for that, even though she never reads this blog. Oh well,…

Second, I came across this blog post on Copyblogger via someone on Twitter. It’s called 49 Creative Ways You Can Profit From Content Marketing, and I found it interesting enough that I wanted to comment on it here. Hey, that’s one way to find ideas for blog posts, right?

bmg3

I tried to figure out how to write about this one without copying any of the things on that site, but I also didn’t want to go through 49 different points and answer each one specifically. So, I thought I’d just pick and choose which ones I thought were the most interesting to comment on; I hope you go to the post and read the entire thing for yourself afterwards, though.

Point #3 is interesting: “Write a special report or white paper that addresses a thorny problem in an interesting way.” It slightly touches on my post about writing for others in that it still means you have to come up with an idea on what to write about, and then decide if you can put together enough words to reach your objective. White papers are interesting because they have no real length that they have to be, but it seems that most of them are at least more than four pages, so you’re not just tossing a few paragraphs together and moving on with business. Still, it’s a pretty good idea if you can first figure out what’s bothering a lot of people, then solve it. If you can’t come up with lots of words, at least you have a blog post.

I’ve been thinking about point #8, “Build a membership web site that is a profitable business in and of itself, for awhile now. Mainly for my business blog, as it pertains to older newsletters I’ve written that my newer subscribers have never seen, and thus have never seen any of the previous newsletters. It’s the only real content of which I have lots of, can always add more to, including audio and video at some point.

Number 11, “Build a Facebook page (separate from your personal profile) that gives you another platform for interaction with your customers“, is something I thought about for a minute, then decided to discard. Most of those types of pages are known as “fan” pages, and they’re created by the person who wants people to be fans of theirs. Just just seems, well, narcissistic to me, so I just can’t do it. Now, if someone wants to take up the mantle and create one for me,…

Number 12, “Compile your best 100 blog posts into a physical book. It worked for Godin, and it can work for you“, is intriguing, because I’ve thought about doing this with some of my old newsletters, and if I go back through some of my blog posts on my business blog, I think they might make a nice little book, as Godin’s books are usually quite short. All about creating products, right?

How many times have Pater and I preached #23, “Your comments on other people’s blogs are content. Treat them that way. Be original, relevant and interesting?” The last time I wrote about it was just over a month ago, in my post Top Three Do’s And Don’ts.

And, of course, this one, #34. “Review everything. Books, blogs, newsletters, tools, physical products, information products“, is a cornerstone of this blog, although more geared towards internet stuff than the others.

Take a look at the other post to see which things you feel are more important than what I’ve posted here.
 

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Book Writing Series Part Seven – Contacting Publishers

As many of you know, I started a series of articles that I called the book writing series, for which I also have a link at the top. I went through some issues on planning, writing, then publishing. Well, some people still want to try to get a real publisher for their books, which is a laudable goal, but may not have any real idea of how to go about it. That’s what this article is about. Of course, I hope you go through the other issues first before you get to this one if you’re a new visitor, but you don’t have to.


the Pen

To begin with, if you’re going to try for publisher’s, a must have book is Writer’s Market, because that’s where you’re going to start looking for the names and addresses of publishers you’re hoping will accept your book. However, the book doesn’t tell you everything you need to know, so stay tuned.

To start off with, whether you submit your book by regular mail or email, you’ll need to supply an outline, or synopsis, of the book. My book was non fiction, so I supplied an outline of what each chapter’s topic was, along with its title, and an outline of what was covered in the chapter if I was touching upon more than one theme. Also, every publisher or agent either wants one of two things: a complete copy of the book, which, if you print it out, has to be on individual pages, double spaced (that’s kind of costly and wasteful, but if that’s what they want then you give it to them); most publishers only want a sample, maybe like the first 50 pages or so. If you’re sending something by email, you may need to contact the publisher first before sending an attached file. This is one place where having Writer’s Market helps, because it will tell you how the publisher wants you to contact them.

However, here’s the big part that no one ever tells you. Unless you’re already famous, you have to put in your greeting letter, and you must ALWAYS have a greeting letter, not only what the book is about and the characters and synopsis, but how YOU would sell and market the book if it were totally up to you. You have to tell them who the target audience is, and why that’s the target audience. And it needs to be a big audience, one that has the possibility of selling at least 100,000 books. That was one of my problems; my non fiction book might have had a big market, but books on management and leadership rarely sell that many books unless you’re a big name. The One Minute Millionaire really was a fluke (I met Ken Blanchard, by the way, and he actually read a copy of my book). Anyway, the marketing aspect has to include things like book signings, certain types of radio shows you’d try to get on, television interviews, how much travel you’d be willing to do, etc. The problem with that is that a lot of that stuff would come out of your own pocket; they’ll pay you something up front, but you then have to figure out how to fit everything else into place with that money.

The best thing to do then, obviously, is to try to get an agent, but they’re tough to get through to also. They don’t like signing what they consider as a “one trick pony”; in other words, they usually want to know that you’ve written more than one book, no matter how good they are, because they want to pitch the writer as being somewhat prolific so they can get multi-book deals. So, unless your first missive is just so fantastic that the agent knows you’re the next coming of J.K. Rowlings, it’s a difficult sell. She’s actually someone who’s a great example of how to do it. She got an agent not because of the first book, but because she had a full outline for the entire series of books, and the agent just loved that, even though she’d only written the first book at the time. Even then, he had a tough time getting it to someone initially, but that was then his concern, not hers, since agents still work on commission. I don’t think any of them are unhappy at this juncture.

If you’re looking for an agent, you pretty much have to go through the same process you do for a publisher. There are only so many agents, and because most of them are one person operations, they only have so much time to read only so many books. The reason you might shoot for an agent, though, is because some publishers will only work with agents, not directly with writers, and agents have access to many more publishers than you might on your own.

Now a little bit more on figuring out the categories for your book. Though I love the idea of a book falling into multiple categories, publishers won’t. In the Writer’s Market book, many publishers only market a few types of genres, so they’d need something specific. These days, more publishers are starting to get scared of “true story” books because of the ones that have been outed as fake recently, so if you reference anyone specific in the book they’re going to want to know who those people are, and of course want to obtain releases from those people, or most of those people, and that gets expensive. If it’s me, I’d probably want to market it as fiction based on your own experiences. In any case, deciding upon your genre will help you decide how to help market your book.

It can be a tough environment, but if you’re committed to trying, I hope those steps above help.

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