responsiblecommenting.com

2Jan/120

How to Write With Your Reader in Mind: Three Crucial Points to Consider



Without readers, your blog is nothing more than a personal journal. That’s fine if you’re blogging in order to establish a writing practice or to create a body of work – but it’s not so great if you’re hoping to make money or build up a reputation in your field.

Whenever you plan, write or edit a post, you need to have your readers firmly in mind. Here are four crucial points to think about:

#1: Are Your Readers Beginners, Intermediate or Advanced?

You need to know whether your readers are totally new to your niche or whether they’ve been involved with it for years. This will affect everything from the topics you choose to your writing style.

In any given field, most people will be beginners. That doesn’t mean you need to aim all your posts at people just starting out – but you do need to keep in mind that some readers may be very inexperienced.

Tip: Unsure how much your readers already know? Read their comments carefully and see what questions they’re asking. Consider running a survey to find out their current level of expertise.

 

#2: Choose Your Words Carefully

You wouldn’t talk to your grandma in Church in the same way that you’d talk to your close buddies in a bar: different language is appropriate for different people and situations.

When you consider your word choices, think about:

  • Will you use bad language? (And where will you draw the line?) Some bloggers have an “edgy” reputation for swearing on their blogs, but this can be extremely off-putting to some readers.
  • Will your readers understand technical terms or jargon? Someone totally new to blogging may have no idea what “WordPress” is or what “RSS” means.
  • Do you have an international audience? If you’re in the US, your local idioms might not make much sense to a reader in the UK or Australia.
  • How many of your readers are native speakers of your chosen language? If you blog in English, you may have a sizeable audience who have a different first language – and you might want to keep your word choices as simple as possible.
  • What level of formality will your audience expect? Your blog isn’t an academic essay, and you can generally get away with using the first person (“I”) and contractions (“isn’t” for “is not”) – but it might not be appropriate to use slangy terms like “bucks” instead of “dollars”.

Tip: Not sure whether you’re hitting the mark? Ask a fellow blogger (ideally someone who’s representative of your target audience) to read a draft post and give you some feedback.

 

#3: Make Your Post Easy to Read

However advanced your readers are, you need to make your post easy for them to read. That means giving it a clear structure, editing carefully, and using formatting to help break up blocks of text.

Structure: Your post shouldn’t just be a collection of thoughts, meandering down the page. It should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. At the very least, it should be split into paragraphs; you may also want to use subheadings to mark the start of each new section.

Editing: Typos and spelling mistakes are distracting for your reader. They also make your post look less authoritative – even if the content is very strong. Make sure you use spell-check, and that you re-read your post to catch missing words or other mistakes that your spell-checker won’t pick up on.

Formatting: Bold text, bullet-pointed lists, subheadings, images … all of these help make your post easy to read. Once you’ve drafted your post, go back through and see whether you need to add in any formatting to help emphasise key points or to make the structure clearer.

Tip: Try using a particular post structure – like a “how to” or a numbered list. This not only makes your post easier to read, it also makes it easier to write!

 

What techniques do you use to write posts that really hit the mark for your readers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments…

 

Bio: Ali Luke is a writing coach and blogger, and writes a weekly column for DailyBlogTips. If you’re struggling to find time for your writing, she has a free ebook that can help (plus a bunch of extra goodies).


Original Post: How to Write With Your Reader in Mind: Three Crucial Points to Consider

Daily Blog Tips

2Mar/110

A Blogging State of Mind

This guest post is by Ashley Ambirge of themiddlefingerproject.org.

Blogging. Successful blogging. My own. Yours. If I could sum it up in three little words, they would be:

Magazine
Advertising
Sales

Wait, what? Magazine advertising sales?

Yes—magazine advertising sales.

You see, (insert voice of the narrator from The Princess Bride), once upon a time I sold advertising for a national print and online magazine, when the only writing I did involved contracts and thank-you letters. Day after day, I proudly won over the hearts of marketing directors everywhere. For my efforts, I became recognized as one of the top account executives in the nation—and, well, ev’body likes a nice plaque, right?

So, what do magazine sales have to do with blogging success?

The short answer: everything.

The long(er) answer: At the end of the day, when it comes down to it, every aspect of blogging is, in fact, a form of sales.

There—I said it! Please don’t shoot!

Ah, sales. If you haven’t thrown up yet, your first reaction is likely to be one of the following:

It is not. Blogging is about providing useful content.
It is not. Blogging is about authenticity.
It is not. Blogging is about building community.
It is not. I hate you and your stupid blog, so go away and leave me alone.

All perfectly valid responses, indeed.

But if you operate on those grounds alone, your would-be-profit-making blog might face the eternal destiny of … (deep, soothing breath) … Personal Journal Land. And if you’re just starting out, it’s a tempting place to visit. But if you’ve got any type of business-related purposes in mind for your blog, you’re gonna wanna take a big, fat detour.

Let me be clear for a second: creating insanely useful content, for example, is really important. But that’s kind of a no-brainer, right? You want people to read your stuff? Make it worth reading. No magic tricks there.

Yet despite the no-brainer value of useful content, traditional wisdom for blogging success continues to be trumpeted as more of the same: create useful content, create useful content, create useful content.

But there’s more to it than that.

The problem with relying on useful content alone is that what’s useful is isn’t always obvious. In your opinion, you might have the world’s most useful content, but if no one else perceives it as such, then you’ve just purchased a one-way ticket to Personal Journal Land.

Perception is everything. Right out of the gate is everything. If new visitors don’t perceive your post titles, your blog—or, more importantly, you—as useful, right off the bat as soon as they land on your site, then your stellar content might as well not exist, because no one’s going to take the time to read it—whether it’s actually useful or not.

And then you’ll grow frustrated. You might throw a series of mini temper-tantrums. You’ll lose motivation. You’ll curse your keyboard. And then curse it some more. You’ll want to ditch the whole blogging thing, and send hate mail to WordPress. And you will want to give up. It will be a sad, sad day. Especially for the poor chap opening mail over at WordPress.

Enter: Sales. The good, non-icky kind. (There is such a thing, you know.)

In the good ol’ days, when I would walk into a sales meeting, I had approximately eight seconds to make a good impression. During those eight seconds, prospects basically made a decision as to whether, a) They liked me, b) They thought I had something valuable to bring to the table, c) They were going to buy it.

Fortunately for me, I can do some pretty amazing things in eight seconds. (Not open to interpretation. Well, maybe.)

But here’s the thing: Your blog? It works exactly the same way. Except you’ve only got eight seconds or less. (If you’re lucky.)

In that (incredibly short and unforgiving) time frame, a new visitor decides as to whether, a) They like you, b) They think you have something valuable to bring to the table, c) They’re going to buy it.

In this case, however, “buying it” doesn’t mean your ebook, your product, your service, or your pet hippopotamus; it means buying you, which is the very first step. No other transactions can occur until they’re sold on you. And how, exactly, do they buy you? They buy you with their time and attention. Time and attention are the currencies du jour of the blogging world. It’s whatcha want.

You better do some pretty amazing things in eight seconds.

I guarantee that no matter how useful your content is, no human being in the world will be able to discern its usefulness in such a short time frame unless you can convince them first that they should give you their time and attention. That’s half the battle.

And that’s precisely why sales just went from being the smelly kid on the playground, to being your best friend.

When new visitors land on your site, it’s your job to have things organized in a way that’s compelling At the end of the day, that’s all that sales is—presenting things in a compelling fashion.

Yes, your site design plays a large role in this, but there are other factors that are just as important. From your tagline (you do have a tagline, don’t you?) to the photo you have displayed of yourself, to the content in your sidebar that shows above the fold, to your About page, to your post titles, to the way you present your content, and more.

It isn’t just about being useful; it’s about presenting what’s useful in a way that’s compelling.

During my magazine ad sales days, our product, frankly, was very useful. By far, it was the best product on the market. But that didn’t mean I could just walk into a sales meeting, nonchalantly slap a magazine down on the table, and expect them to magically understand exactly how useful it was. I had to take them by the hand, and not just talk about how great my product was, but demonstrate how great they’d be because of it. I had to make it compelling. I had to make it about them.

Same goes for your blog.

Your blog is insanely useful. It might be the best blog out there on your topic. But that doesn’t mean you can just show up, nonchalantly slap up a post, and expect them to magically understand how useful it is. You’ve got to take them by the hand, and not just produce great content, but demonstrate how great they’ll be because of it. You have to make it compelling. You have to make it about them.

Only then will it actually be perceived as useful in their eyes.  And only then will it get read. And only then can you escape Personal Journal Land.

So, how can you make your blog more compelling right out of the gate?

1. First impressions really count. A lot. Even more than on a first date, because at least your date is stuck with you for the night; new visitors aren’t.

Enough talk about dating; we’re still talking shop here. So, back to the ad sales analogy: you wouldn’t walk into a sales meeting wearing a tee shirt drenched in ketchup and mustard, unless you were selling a fabric cleaning product … or you happen to be rushing back from feeding orphans at your neighborhood homeless shelter. (Nice try.)

Same goes for your blog. Keep it clean. Keep it simple. Make it easy on the eye, so the visitor can focus on the message, not the 30,000 widgets you’ve got blinking in your sidebar. Or the ode to every other blogger you’ve ever exchanged an email with, a.k.a. the blogroll. Or that schizophrenic cloud of alleged keywords that induces more seizures than searches. Remember: you have eight seconds or less. In those eight seconds, you need to engage, not distract.

2. Talk less about yourself.

You wouldn’t walk into a sales meeting, ignore the client, and spend the entire hour giving your esteemed opinion on [insert unrelated topic]. Why? Because the client doesn’t care about your opinion; at this point, he only cares about how you can wave your magic wand and help a brother out. That’s why, in sales, you go in asking questions, you make it all about the prospect, and then you offer a logical solution that addresses the pain points that the prospect himself just finished identifying. This way, you aren’t selling; you’re offering a solution. You know the drill.

How does this apply to your blog? On first visit, a reader doesn’t care about you; at this point, he only cares about how you can wave your magic wand and help a brother out. Therefore, you should be presenting your blog in a way that makes it all about the reader, addressing their pain points, and then presenting your blog as the solution.

Where do you do this? Your About page is a good place to start. Try putting the readers first, and explaining how your blog is going to blow their minds. Give them a reason not to X out. Get them engaged. Get them fired up. Make them think, “This is what I’ve been looking for!”

And then talk about yourself.

Another way to talk more about them is right in your headlines. You know, the titles of your blog posts. Any copywriter will tell you with their eyes closed that headlines should translate into a benefit for a reader; otherwise, why click on it? Yet, “benefit for the reader” doesn’t necessarily mean spelling it out verbatim “this is what you will get if you read this.” More often, it means “subtle implications of what you’ll get if you read this.”

Whether you’re offering to solve a problem (e.g. Top 10 Ways to Cure Yourself of Writer’s Block), hooking them up with insider knowledge (e.g. The Secret to Making Thirty-Seven Zillion Trillion Dollars By Blogging—No Yellow Highlighter Required), tapping into their insecurities (e.g. The Hairy Mistake You’re Probably Making, But Have No Idea), arousing their curiosity (e.g. What Everyone Needs to Know About Darren Rowse), promising them something desirable (e.g. Drink Beer, Lose Weight), or saving them time (e.g. The Quickest Way to Make Her Fall In Love With You & Have Your Babies), for example, all of these translate into some benefit for the person who clicks on them. And benefits are all about them. And when it’s all about them, they’ll give you their time and attention. And then you win. The first part of the battle, anyway.

3. Talk more about yourself. Wait, didn’t I just say to talk less about yourself?

It’s all about the stories, baby. A good storyteller knows the difference between stories that have a greater purpose and message, and stories that don’t. You want the former. And when you tell stories in a way that ensures they have a greater purpose and message, on the surface it may feel like you’re talking about yourself, but you’re not. You might be telling your particular story, but you’re also telling the greater story of many. And in that respect, you’re indirectly talking about them. So I guess this bullet point doesn’t even count, because when it comes down to it, we’re still talking about them. Sorry—our moment in the spotlight is over.

By telling stories with a greater purpose and message, you’re guiding them through their own past experiences, when they’ll start feeling like they really relate to what you’re saying. If you can end your story with a solution (i.e. how you’ve come out ahead, how you finally sold your pet hippopotamus online, etc.), they’ll start to envision themselves having the same success if they stick with you. And then, by golly, you’ve got yourself a sale, in which case, again, the sale = their time + attention. Boo-yah. What you do with their time and attention thereafter is a whole other post.

4. Be a rebel. Skull tattoos and all. And do the opposite.

I’ve just written about why a sales mentality can be useful in order to grow a successful blog. But by the same token, one of the reasons I was so successful in sales is because I wasn’t sales-y. Being a salesperson and being sales-y are two very different things. Instead of tried and true sales-y approaches (that were also tired and trite), I remixed things to create a fresh approach. While many of my colleagues were sending out letters with their business cards attached, I was sending Fed-Ex packages containing rooftop shingles. (The magazine was specifically targeted toward the new-home construction industry.) One client with whom I had zero luck with for months, finally called and agreed to an appointment after receiving a rooftop shingle I had purchased at Home Depot. On the back, I wrote in silver marker: “[Their Company's Name] + [My Company's Name] = Sales Through the Roof.” She then became one of my best clients.

The point?

Tried and true doesn’t always mean better and best. And most of the time, people are bored with tried and true. Their eyes glaze over. They want you to make the effort to stand out from the crowd—they want you to earn their time and attention before they willingly give it. And you can (and should) absolutely apply this to blogging. Sometimes it’s a matter of reading up on other blogs in your niche and, every time you come across something that makes you cringe, go ahead and do, say, or be the opposite. Chances are good that if you’re cringing, so are others. Be the fresh breath of air that they want (and need). This, too, is a form of sales, because you’re deliberately and intentionally picking an angle and attempting to present yourself in a way that’s more compelling.

And like I said, at the end of the day, being compelling is all that sales really is.

And if compelling = sales, and sales = a key element of early-stage blogging success, whatdya say we throw a little deductive reasoning into the hat, and uncover the real answer to early-stage blogging success?

Simply
Being
Compelling.

Perhaps that’s easier said than done, but if you remember to treat your blog as a product—not just a blog—and your reader as a prospect—not just a reader—the sales mentality will begin to naturally unfold, you’ll navigate yourself out of Personal Journal Land, no (bitter and unfortunate) hate mail will be sent to the folks at WordPress … and the best part?

You can brag to everyone you know that you can do amazing things in eight seconds. Whether you leave it open to interpretation or not is your call.

Ashley Ambirge is the sassiest freelance writer, entrepreneur and digital strategist on the block. She authors books on leveraging the internet to make a business out of your passions, runs her semi-insane but lovable blog (click here to subscribe), and does one on one strategy sessions with new bloggers, entrepreneurs & small businesses looking to¬†rock their online space with the brilliance of a diamond (and finally make some damn money). She’ll also kill you at beer pong without batting an eyelash. Just the facts, Jack.

Post from: ProBlogger Blog Tips

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A Blogging State of Mind


ProBlogger Blog Tips

15Jun/090

More Secrets of a Millionaire Mind



I recently shared 6 tips in Be a Better Blogger with Secrets of a Millionaire Mind. I’d like to share more today. Success is as much of a mindset as it is hard work–it takes both to become successful and how you think about your life, your business, and your blog will no doubt result in the success or failure of those things. Things rarely happen by chance, you have to want it, work for it and earn it. These next set of tips will help guide your mindset for success, but only if you apply them to your life, your business and your blog.

1. Rich people play the money game to win. Poor people play the money game to not lose.
This is actually a challenging tip; whether we’re talking about money or blogging, but the principals can apply to either. Successful bloggers play the game to win; unsuccessful bloggers play to not lose. They don’t have the mindset to concentrate on the win and working hard to achieve the win; successful bloggers do.

2. Rich people think big. Poor people think small.
This is another great tip for successful bloggers. They literally think big. They think in terms of being at the top in theie field or niche. They worked hard to grow their blog and their readership. Having a small blog never entered their minds. They wanted it to be big and successful. They also kept trying until it became big and successful.

3. Rich people focus on opportunities. Poor people focus on obstacles.

Successful bloggers look for opportunities. They do not think about the obstacles in their way, they simply work around them until they find success.

Writers also have a lot of trouble with this one. And fear is a main cause of focusing on what stands in the way instead of the prize that awaits. We all panic. To be a success this is one of the most important things we can change about our mindset.

4. Rich people are willing to promote themselves and their value.  Poor people think negatively about selling and promotion.

How many successful bloggers do you see who are afraid to sell and promote themselves? None of them. Maybe they were in the beginning, but once they overcame that fear, they began seeing success.

5. Rich people choose to get paid based on results. Poor people choose to get paid based on time.

Did that one step on your toes? Most of us have been conditioned to equate our time based on a dollar amount; that pay per hour thing most people work for. Successful people concentrate on the result and set their own wage according to those results.

Writers are a key example of this. Most writers don’t focus on how long a project will take them to finish, they focus on the end result. Some projects can be done in a very short amount of time making an hourly wage very lucrative, other projects may take longer, but the writer and the client can be proud of the end result instead of how much time it took.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips. Anyone who is trying to build a successful blog will appreciate books like Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and a whole host of others that are geared towards giving you the mindset of success.

Remember, becoming successful should always be a work in progress.


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More Secrets of a Millionaire Mind

Blogging Tips Books
A selection of e-books to help you improve as a blogger.
Find out more at www.bloggingtips.com/books/


Blogging Tips

9Jun/090

Be a Better Blogger with Secrets of a Millionaire Mind



In T. Harv Ekers book Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, he gives 17 tips comparing the difference between how a millionaire thinks and how poor people think. We’ll take a look at some of these and apply them to building your blog or website so it can grow to the level you desire. These tips are also good for freelance writers or anyone who wants to create success.

Success is often a result of how you think. This concept has been covered in The Secret, and by people like Napoleon Hill and James Allen.

Eker went a bit further in defining the difference in thought patterns–even by the way a person has been raised or conditioned to think. You can change your thought patterns–it just takes time and a positive attitude.

For now, let’s relate some of Eker’s points to blogging.

1. Rich people believe they create their own lives. Poor people believe that life happens to them.

This is a very good point for bloggers. You’re already aware that you need to create and build a blog to see success. Having that mindset will help you reach out each day and network with others to get your venture off the ground. You already know it won’t just happen–you have to create the success of it.

2. Rich people are committed to being rich while poor people want to be rich.

If you’re a blogger, writer or entrepreneur you know you must commit yourself to your chosen field. If you want to build a successful blog, you have to be committed to its success. Many bloggers want their blog to be a success, but they do nothing to promote its success.

3. Rich people associate with positive, successful people. Poor people associate with negative or unsuccessful people.

This is another great tip that can be related to blogging. If you want your blog to be a success, you need to associate with those who’ve already made theirs a success. Stop associating with naysayers and people who will bring you down. If you’re associating with people who don’t support you whole heartedly, you need to take a good look at those people and decide if you’re going to the top or if you’re going to accept hanging around at the bottom with them.

4. Rich people are bigger than their problems. Poor people are smaller than their problems.

Okay, you’re going to run into problems, things will go wrong. Decide right now if you’re going to let those problems stop you or help you grow as a blogger. Unsuccessful people simply give up. Your current project may not get off the ground, that doesn’t mean the next project won’t. If you stick to finding something that will be successful, you’ve won half the battle. Give your projects time to develop, if they don’t–move on to the next. Never give up.

5. Rich people act in spite of fear. Poor people let fear stop them.

As a blogger you know it’s scary out there trying to build something great. Many people are actually afraid of success even though they desire it. When you fear you’re in over your head or that you don’t belong on the A-List–that’s when you need to push forward. Work through the fear and get past it.

6. Rich people constantly learn and grow. Poor people think they already know.

To be a successful blogger you must constantly study the craft so you can learn and grow with the business. Never start thinking that you know everything about it, or that learning is too hard. Doing so will keep you at the level you’re at.

Remember, success doesn’t happen over night. It takes dedication and a lot of hard work. Think like a rich person and make it happen.


Copyright © 2010 Blogging Tips. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact us so we can take legal action immediately.

Be a Better Blogger with Secrets of a Millionaire Mind

Blogging Tips Books
A selection of e-books to help you improve as a blogger.
Find out more at www.bloggingtips.com/books/


Blogging Tips