responsiblecommenting.com

23Mar/120

Helpful Tips for Writing About Controversial Topics



Writing is a human activity that often has to do with subjects that are controversial. While some writers may strictly offer information only, others add their opinion or interpretation to it. We live in a time and space where people are sensitive about a whole lot of issues, from religion and ideologies, to the movies and music they like. So when a writer puts his views out, there is a fair chance that a good number of people will not agree with it. Knowing how to write about topics that are controversial without offending people or getting into trouble is an essential skill for the contemporary writer. Here are some helpful tips.

1. Be sure of what you say

The weakest aspect of writing on controversial subjects is poor research. Make sure that anything that you are mentioning in your writing is based on fact. This will help keep you out of trouble in case anyone chooses to contest what you have said. In addition, it will lend credibility to your opinions and your writing.

Wherever possible, quote your sources or leave a reference note so that readers can validate what you are saying on their own. A great temptation that writers have to face is to twist facts in order to make their writing more exciting. While it may give you short term popularity, in the long run, you will be branded as a sensationalist.

2. Stay objective

Controversial topics are the perfect ground for a writer to lose perspective. This happens very naturally since typically these are subjects that the writer has strong personal opinions about. It is made worse when there have been personal life conflicts surrounding those topics. Keep your writing as objective as possible. It is a mark of professionalism to be able to present conflicting views on a subject without giving away your personal battles. Do not use your writing to settle personal grudges.

3. Use tact

Even the bitterest of medicine can be helped to go down with a spoonful of sugar. Be sensitive to the reader’s point of view. Remember that you do not get to choose your reader, but your reader can choose whether to continue reading your writing. Avoid hurtful or inflammatory statements. While humor is an excellent way to put across truths that may be unpleasant, be aware of the thin line between humor and ridicule or contempt.

4. Hold your horses

If you are writing about a controversial topic, learn to give enough time to yourself to thoroughly weigh the pros and cons of what you have written. Words once uttered are hard to take back. The written word is even more dangerous than the spoken word, since once it is out there, there is no way you can even hope that people will forget about it.

Once you finish working on a piece of controversial writing, let it stand, and give yourself a break. It is possible that after you have slept over it for a while; you will want to tone down what you wrote.

5. Write from the heart

There can be two reasons for choosing a controversial topic to write about. If you have chosen it in order to create sensation and give a boost to your popularity by virtue of the topic you have chosen, play by the above rules and you should be fine. However, there are many writers who write about controversial topics because it is close to their heart, and they feel very strongly about it.

If the purpose of your writing is to create awareness and educate people about aspects of life that are controversial, you may find it difficult to be nice and diplomatic. In such cases you will want to weigh the cost of being forthright and blunt against the risk of losing the opportunity of carrying your message to a larger audience. Keep in mind that those who will not mind your vitriol possibly already agree with your point of view and it is the rest of the people who you need to target in your mission to create awareness. Being polite, prudent and proper will only help you reach out to a larger and broader readership.

It is not at all difficult to write about topics that are controversial. What is difficult though is to retain your readers and to attract new readers while you are at it. Using the tips outlined here will help you temper you writing with the right balance of forthrightness and diplomacy. Once you have practiced and mastered writing the way it has been suggested here, you will be able to handle controversial topics in a safe, effective and professional manner. Go ahead. Give it a try right now.

This guest post was written by Alia Haley, a blogger by profession. She loves writing on technology and autos. Beside this she is fond of cars and fancy dresses. Recently an article on New Android Apps attracted her attention. These days she is busy in writing an article on dyson air multiplier.


Copyright © 2012 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.


Blogging Tips

29Feb/120

A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Your First Guest Post



Your own blog might be packed with great content … but it won’t be doing you much good if you don’t have any readers.

One of the best ways to bring readers to your blog is to write guest posts on larger, related, blogs. This not only gets your name and writing in front of people, it also helps your Google rankings (because you’ll get a link to your site from a high-pagerank blog).

If you’ve never guest-posted before, you might not know where to start. Here’s your step-by-step guide:

Step #1: Choose Your Target Blog

Some bloggers come up with an idea and write their post, then look for a blog that’s a good fit. But it’s more efficient to select your target blog first – because this will influence everything from your initial idea to your writing style.

A good target blog is large, on-topic, and clearly accepts guest posts (e.g. you’ve seen other people’s guest posts on that blog).

Step #2: Write Your Guest Post

As you write your guest post, keep in mind any guidelines from your target blog. (Most larger blogs will have guest post guidelines – try using the search box to find these if they’re not immediately obvious.)

Make your guest post focused and useful. Give it a clear structure (introduction, main body, conclusion) and try to write it in a similar style to that used by your target blog.

Step #3: Edit Your Post Carefully

Allow plenty of time for editing your post. You might even want to print it out so you can read it through on paper. Make sure the post flows well – you may find that you need to rearrange sentences or paragraphs to make your progression of ideas clearer.

Watch out for any clumsy phrasings or unclear sentences, as well as spelling mistakes and typos. If you can, get a friend to look over the post for you, so they can give you some feedback.

Step #4: Add Your Bio

Finally, don’t forget to include a bio. This is a sentence or two of text about you, usually written in the third person (for an example, just glance down to the final few words of this post, which start Ali Luke…)

It’s a good idea to tell readers who you are (e.g. “John Smith is a keen gardener…”) as well as giving them a link to a specific resource on your blog. That might be a free ebook, a great post, or a special landing page designed for them. Don’t just link to your main URL, because that’s not enough of an incentive for many people to click on your link.

So there you have it – a completed guest post. It’s as simple as that! Why not do some research today and find a great target blog for your first guest post?

Ali Luke is a writer and writing coach. If you want to take your blogging further, join her weekly newsletter list to get two free ebooks on blogging (“Ten Powerful Ways to Make Your Blog Posts Stronger” plus “Ten Easy Ways to Attract Readers to Your Blog … And Keep Them There”) as well as lots more goodies.

Wanna make money with your website?


Original Post: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Your First Guest Post

Daily Blog Tips

7Dec/110

How to Improve Content writing using SEO to Rank in First Page?

A Guide to write quality Content to reach your Readers by having SEO standards and factors in mind.

This blog post is about improving your content writing to rank in first page of Google, Yahoo and Bing by following set of SEO standards and factors. This post can help you reach your content to all your readers who search for similar information. Always write content for Readers first, not for bot's alone. Have the keywords in your content as reader friendly then search engine friendly. Read this post so that you "Don't give a chance for your readers to miss your Content".

This post helps you to know how to improve content writing by formatting the content with HTML & SEO standards that can be easily understood by search engine bots about the importance of the content subject along with researched keywords. If you do not format properly, even quality content will not reach your readers. Make Google[1], Yahoo[2] and Bing[3] search engines, easily crawl able. Have your content to follow the SEO standards like Title, SEF page URL, Mata tag, H1, H2, H3, H4 tags, Image ALT, Anchor text, feed, formatted external CSS, JS and body content in Div code. Don't miss the chance and get to know how to use these standards.

Improve Content write-up to reach your readers with SEO Factors

Normally only few content writers thinks about SEO for Content, that is writing content and optimizing for search engine to make it easily spiderable[4]. One must follow SEO factors to reach readers local and global. Now a day’s SEO for Content is very much essential even for quality content to win search engine results and to reach readers who look for your quality information.

(a) SEO copy writing - Two Ways

You need to start a ground work of picking relevant keywords using Google Keyword selector tool[5] or Search-based Keyword Tool[6] for your content and you may start writing your contents with those single, two word key phrases and long tail key phrases. Do not make the content odd by stuffing those keywords. You can think of the keyword and write the content and if the information is clear and beneficial for it's users then you win the game. If content is written with related images and examples, if any, then you will get even better responses.

Another way is that you can first prepare your content drafts and based on the subject you can look for keywords using Google Keyword selector tool[5] or Search-based Keyword Tool[6]. Then related to the content you can add keywords and make the copy more meaningful and as well make sure that you don't add too many keywords[7]. Do follow Keyword Strategies that can help your to determine the best practice.

(b) Four Keyword Strategies

Here is a much enhanced keyword strategies that can make big difference in your new content write-up and as well to improve your existing content. The strategies are keyword density, frequency, prominence, and proximity.

(i) Keyword Density

To make your content win in search results you need to add top search keywords that your readers use in search engine. Your content may have those key phrases but make sure those are used in your content in correct format that meets keyword density.

Keyword Density % = Amount of keywords used / Total amount of words in the content.

Keyword density in percentage terms is calculated based on the amount of keywords you have used and the total amount of words you use in the content. This strategy is used to avoid the chance of keyword stuffing[7]. Keyword density can be between 2% to 8% and not more than that.

(ii) Keyword Prominence

How prominently your keywords are placed in your content depends on how much top priority for the keyword is given in your starting content, Title, H tags and Meta tags.

(iii) Keyword Frequency

The number of times a particular keyword has been repeated. Referring to the example you can see how many times "Photograph Editing Software" Keyword appears on a page content. Some may think that more the times Keyword found in a page, then the page ranks better for that Keyword. It is not so. Stuffing Keywords in a page will result in penalizing since it looks like spam[7]. Here you need to follow Keyword Density.

(iv) Keyword Proximity

Keyword proximity refers to how close two or more keywords are to each other. You will achieve higher rankings if you place your keywords close together.

It depends on how you frame your two or more words to each other. If you are able to have words in your keywords close then you have chances to rank much higher. Here are two types of examples of how keyword "Photograph Editing Software" is focused.

Example 1: Looking for Photograph Editing Software? Go for Adobe photoshop.
Example 2: Best Software for Photograph Editing is Adobe photoshop.

Example 1 will work better when compared to Example 2 since in example one "Photograph Editing Software" is used as one single Keyword were as example 2 uses "Software for Photograph Editing". Words are not close and in order.

In detail, In Example 1, "Photograph Editing Software" 3 words are in same order as searched by users, whereas in Example 2, "Software for Photograph Editing" are not in order as you can see "Software" word is used in front of "for Photograph Editing" rather than after "Photograph Editing" as you can see from the actual keyword "Photograph Editing Software".

All the Four Keyword Strategies can be applicable in below tags and these are very much useful:

* Title.
* Meta Description.
* H1, H2, H3, H4 Tags.
* ALT attribute.
* Page name.
* Anchor Text.
* The body of the text.

(c) Maintaining the position.

It is not only about winning the game on holding the position in #1 page. It is all about maintaining the position in #1 page. I see some get into the position and then drop down soon. This is due to the lack of updates on the topic. Don't give any chances. This may also happen sometimes when you don't follow keyword strategies in your content and when you don't follow SEO standards.

Plan of Action to Rank in First Page

1. Improve your content writing for readers and DO SEO[10].
2. Make sure you have fresh and informative content in your content[8].
3. Avoid thoughts of using content only for marketing.
4. Make your content unique so it stands out from the rest.
5. Work on your content regularly.
6. Do add relevant key phrases to your content and avoid stuffing.
7. Do apply HTML standards and SEO factors to your content for effective search engine listings.
8. Always set right balance for users and Search Engines.

Example on SEO Copy Writing

Here is an example based on optimizing the content. Suppose you plan to have a write-up on "Photograph Editing Software" as below. Here are the steps to show how to use Google Keywords tool to pick relevant keywords and optimize content for those keywords.

Step1: Now to start with optimization you can look for "Photography Editing Software" keyword search count and related keywords using Google Keyword tool.

Click Google Keyword selector tool and paste the keyword "Photography Editing Software" in the "Enter one keyword or phrase per line" text area box, next enter captcha security characters and press Get Keywords ideas button as seen in Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1

Step 2: Now you gets two types of results. One is "Keywords related to term(s) entered" and the other is "Additional keywords to consider". If you feel Additional keywords are useful you can very well use them.

Below keywords shown in Figure 2.1 are from "Keywords related to term(s) entered" section:

Figure 2.1

Step 3: Now we have 5 keywords to optimize and the write-up is about Adobe photoshop and we all know Adobe is not free so we can eliminate 5th keyword. (Refer Figure 2.1)

Now we have 4 keywords to consider to optimize the content. Here is an example how we add those keywords to the content.

"Looking for Photograph Editing Software? Go for Adobe photoshop. One of the Best photography editing software for Digital and Professional editing."

SEO Standards - Content formatting and practices

The content formatting and presentation is very much important.

(1) Title Tag

This is the main tag for search engines to know all about the page content. Keep your title tag Keyword rich and catchy since many search engine uses Title tag for search listing.

(2) Page name:
Page name can be same as Title tag (keywords). So again have the title name catchy, meaningful and keyword rich.
(3) H 1, H 2, H 3, H 4, H 5, H 6:
Have your Heading H1 and sub headings in H2, H3, H4, H5, H6. Make sure they are meaningful to the content.
(4) Image ALT Attribute:
ALT attribute for an image can be about the information on the image and related content. It also helps visitors with text-only browsers. ALT attribute text pops up when the mouse cursor is moved to the image.
ALT attribute plays important role in SEO factors and Googlebot and other spiders like to take up the information and ALT with relevant keywords helps keyword frequency to get better ranking.
[IMG SRC="URL" ALT="Insert your alternative Text Here"] (Not compatible for FireFox)
[IMG SRC="URL" ALT="Insert your alternative Text Here" Title="Insert your alternative Text Here"]
(Compatible for all Browsers. FireFox browser support IMG Title instead of ALT)
Make sure ALT attribute is useful and not written only for search engine bots[9].
(5) Meta Description:
This is an important tag for ranking your page. So make sure the description has most important meaningful researched keywords. Meta description content is been used as a Search Engine snippet for your page search users queries.
(6) Anchor text:
Anchor text helps the readers to know the information about the text to which the link point. Anchor text tag looks like,
Many writers use additional words to link a word string like, Google allows you to share your knowledge and add your name. To know more, click here
A much proper way of Anchor text in few words is, Google allows you to share your knowledge and add your name in Google Knol
This Anchor text code helps with linking benefits for readers as well as for search engine rankings.
(7) Activity Feed & Link Distribution:
Start populating your content and profile activity feeds through blog posts and feed submission sites. These ways will help to increase content popularity and increase the chances of referral hits and external link popularity.
Link Distribution can be done through content page link submission to external resources, tutorials and articles directories to help increase popularity and as well you can inter link your and other authors site related to your content. Make sure that the link distribution serves readers and they are natural[10], and not exclusive for search engine bots[11].
(8) Google Analytics:
Configure Google analytics for your content pages to track visitors and source of visit. You can also find user searched keywords for your content in Google analytics[12]. Pick those keywords and find the page position in Google, Yahoo and Bing. Update your content with those keywords till it meets keywords density and if the content already meets Keywords density then you might need to improve your content for users and increase page link popularity rather than adding keywords again that leads to Keyword stuffing.Be sure that the content should be meaningful and should meet users queries in search engine. And by following plan of action you can see extreme progress in site traffic.
Conclusion:
Congratulations on reading the post, as this covers all the practices that helps to improve your quality content to rank in First page. To summarize, now you have learned the importance of Content SEO with example of using Google Keyword tool for getting related keywords and optimizing quality content, implementing four types of Keyword strategies, applying HTML standards that supports SEO with content formatting and practices. By adding these content improvement standards and SEO factors to your quality content, you can see extreme difference in your page traffic and the analyses mentioned in this post help you to reach your content to all your readers.

References

  1. Google 101: How Google crawls, indexes and serves the web
  2. Yahoo! Search Content Quality Guidelines
  3. Bing Guidelines for successful indexing
  4. Google's Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide! [PDF]
  5. Google Keyword Tool
  6. Search-based Keyword Tool
  7. Don't load pages with keywords.
  8. Little or no original content.
  9. Image guidelines for best practices on publishing images.
  10. Google-friendly sites
  11. Don't participate in link schemes
  12. Google Analytics | Official Website


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Articles, Tips, Tricks, Help Blog - Jagadeesh Mohan

25Nov/110

Generating Website Content Writing Ideas



Have you ever been stuck with what to write about? Think your brain is just tapped out? When you think about website content, writing can start to elude you, especially if you’ve done this for awhile. However, there are fresh ideas to be discovered in a lot of places.

Where can you get content ideas?

Use ebooks for content ideas – If you’re like most people, you’ve collected a ton of ebooks in your niche. Go through them and pull out snippets and ideas to write your own content.

Use magazines – Magazines are a great way to generate content ideas. It doesn’t even have to be in your niche. Look at the headlines.

Most headlines have something eye catching about them; Five Ways to Burn Fat Fast, Simple Ways to Get a Good Night’s Rest, Top Five Business Ventures, etc.
You can take those headlines, relate them to your niche and write about it. Let’s say your blog is about list building and email marketing.

You can use the headline; Five Ways to Grow Your List Fast, Simple Ways to Improve Email Marketing, Top Five List Building Strategies.

If you read magazines or books that are in your niche, that will work even better. You can read the articles and write about them. What did you pull from the article? What did you dislike? Turn your thoughts into great content.

Write reviews – Have you read a good book lately? Learned something new? You can write a review and let others know if the book is worth their money.

Check out news headlines – There is always something going on somewhere. Learn how to use recent news to your advantage. How can it relate to your niche?

Look at advertisements – They are everywhere; in magazines, on websites, in the newspaper. What grabs you? What do you not like? Is there something there you can relate to your niche?

Use the holidays, seasons and other noteworthy days – You can always relate these to new content. For our list building example mentioned above, you can write a headline like; Santa Has a List. Why Don’t You? or How Santa Builds His List.

Recap – Pull out bits of your best advice and share them in one post. You have snippets of great content ideas already in your blog posts.

Use them, combine them, condense them, expand them.

Blog hop – Go read your favorite blogs, or find new blogs. What are they writing about? Can you expand on something the writer has mentioned?

Use a feed reader – Most people use them to keep up with other blogs. You can use it to generate content ideas. It goes along with the blog hopping tip above, except all the content is in one place.

Do something physical – Getting some fresh air or going for a short walk is a great way to generate ideas, especially if you forget to take pen and paper with you. However, since most cell phones have some type of notepad built in, you can still jot down ideas you get.

Wash the dishes or take a shower“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” ~Agatha Christie
It’s absolutely true. I bet you get a lot of ideas as soon as you get in the shower, don’t you? Be ready to write them down as soon as you get out or you’ll forget them again.

Content ideas are everywhere. Sometimes, just doing something different will help you generate an idea. Get up from the computer, do something completely unrelated to writing–and an idea will surface. It’s almost guaranteed to work every time.

Still need help? Visit my author page for more website content writing posts.


Copyright © 2011 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.


Blogging Tips

2Nov/110

Are You Writing Chapters or Episodes?

Harold Getting His Own Candy

This came to me quite suddenly the other day: a lot of how people interact with your stuff online, especially on your blog, has a lot to do with whether you’re writing chapters or whether you’re writing episodes. They’re quite different, obviously. Let’s dig into that.

Chapters vs. Episodes

First off, neither method is wrong. Television shows are based on both models. In the “chapters” model, we get a little precis at the beginning of each episode. It says, “Previously, on ____.” Then, we get to see a few seconds that should remind us of whatever it was we saw last time we tuned in. In the episodes method, often used in sitcoms, everything seems to reset from whatever happens during the show by the time we get to the end. When we start up again next week, there’s usually enough exposition and context to know who’s who and what the relationships are like. If you’ve seen one episode of the Simpsons, you know roughly what’s going to happen, though the actual plot points are dramatically different.

Again, neither method is the right way to do it. However, if you think about it, you’ve really got to decide how you’re going to structure your information. As people come to your site for the first time, will they know enough about the backstory to move forward? We tend to write as if we’re doing chapters, except that we rarely (never?) have a “Previously, on _____” part to help people get context.

How Will You Welcome Your New Readers Without Boring Your Old?

This is at the heart of the matter, I believe. Imagine that for every Daniel Decker that has been reading me for a year or two or more, there’s a ____ _____ who just showed up today and found this blog TODAY. How will I keep Daniel interested while welcoming … YOU? (You’d better leave a comment on this post, new person!)

That’s the challenge.

But in thinking about it, I wanted to know what you were already doing. Are you writing chapters or episodes? Do you think newcomers can gather up enough context to move forward? If we switched metaphors entirely and you were a magazine, do they know enough from skimming a few pages and posts whether or not they’ve picked up the right product?




chrisbrogan.com

18Oct/110

Neil Patel’s Guide to Writing Popular Blog Posts

This guest post is by Neil Patel of KISSmetrics.

Do you wish you knew the secret to writing popular blog posts? You know, the posts that get over 200 comments, 20 backlinks, and hundreds of shares on social networking sites?

Over the past five years I’ve started two blogs. The first one became a Technorati top 100 site, and now I’m working on Quick Sprout.

Post writing

Image copyright Yuri Arcurs - Fotolia.com

Fortunately I’ve learned a few lessons about writing popular posts while running these two blogs, and now I want to share those lessons with you.

Use simple words

The first thing you’ll probably notice when you look at popular blog posts is they’re really easy to understand. And it doesn’t matter what the content is about.

Why is that? The reason they are easy to read is because the writer chose to write with simple words.

I always write my posts using 5th grade vocabulary, rather than writing like a highly educated person. See, I’d rather you be able to read and understand quickly what I wrote, than to appear like an educated person who uses big, complex words, and ends up confusing people.

The interesting thing is you will still look like an expert. Also, people are more likely to share a post that they think other people will understand. So use simple words, not fancy ones.

Use the word “you”

Really great blog posts sound like they were written just for you. Do you know why that is? It’s because the writer probably used the word “you” instead of “we” or “them.”

When I write like this, what I’m doing is trying to make you feel like it’s just you and me, as if we were sitting down at a café for a cup of coffee.

Yes, my blog has thousands of readers, but my posts come across much more personal when I pretend like I’m just writing for one person.

A neat trick to help you do this is to think of somebody you know and write your blog post as if you are writing it just for them. I know some writers who even keep a picture of a person above their screens to remind them that they are writing for just one person.

Write “how-to” posts

One of the things I learned about writing popular blog posts is that people want useful information.

That blog content that I wrote for the Technorati Top 100 blog wasn’t very good, even though it was ranked high, and I think it was because I wasn’t trying to offer a solution to people’s problems. I wasn’t showing them how to do stuff. In this post, I’m pretty sure you want to write posts that people like and share, so that the traffic to your blog grows. I want to help you solve that problem.

The template for writing a “how-to” post is simple. Just sit down and write out all of the steps involved in doing something in particular.

Let’s say you want to show your audience how to subscribe to your blog with an RSS reader. Your headings might be “Choose a Reader,” “Sign Up,” “Click on the RSS button,” and “Subscribe.” Under each heading you would give more information, explaining what to look for, the pros and cons, and pointing out issues that might be confusing.

Write detailed posts

When I first started writing Quick Sprout, I got frustrated with how slowly it was growing. It seemed like it was taking forever! I was writing good posts and getting some comments, but not enough to really make people want to share and link back.

At one point I decided to experiment and write a really long, detailed post. It took me some time to write and I was wondering if it was worth all the effort.

Well, you know what? It was!

People commented and shared that post a lot, and from that point on I decided I was only going to write long posts with tons of good, specific information.

If you think about it, people love long, detailed posts because so much of what is offered on other blogs is short and light on details. This is not to knock other blogs, but simply to point out that this is an opportunity for you to make yourself different than other bloggers.

Another way to make your posts detailed is to add statistics and graphs. It’s been shown that posts with images, stats and graphs will get way more links than the very same post without visual appeal!

Hook your readers

I really learned a lot about hooking your reader by reading blogs by Brian Clark, Darren Rowse and Leo Babauta.

These writers use some great tricks to compell readers to stop and read every word they write, which I think is something we all want to do, right?

The first rule of hooking readers is to write a great headline. Great headlines have four qualities. They are:

  • Unique: Unique headlines can only be used for your blog post, like this post I’m writing right now. It’s unique because there is only one Neil Patel!
  • Useful: A headline is useful when it promises practical information. The reason “how-to” guides are popular is because it gives answers to problems.
  • Ultra-specific: Adding numbers or stats to a headline makes it ultra-specific. My article, 6 Advanced Ways to Improve Your Search Rankings, is a good example of ultra-specific, since I used both a number and the word “advanced.”
  • Urgent: The best way to create urgency is to put some kind of deadline into your headline. “6 Days until the Stock Market Crashes” or “Your Last Chance to Get a Free Copy of My Book” are good examples.

The best headlines have three or four of these features in them. This formula is called the Four Us.

After the headline, you hook readers by writing a great first sentence. How do you do that? Asking questions works really well. So does making a crazy statement that simply can’t be true, but then you promise to show your readers that it is. The point is to write a first sentence that people can’t resist. Quotes also make good first sentences, as do statistics.

Next, your reader will probably skim your post, especially if it is long, looking at all of your sub-headlines. This is why your sub-headlines need to also hook the reader.

Readers should be able to scan your sub-headlines and get a summary of what the post is about. I like to write my sub-headlines like normal headlines, trying to use the Four Us I showed you above. That way, you read them and say, “I got to read that!”

Create a conversation

One of the most important parts of writing popular blog posts is writing like it’s a conversation.

Have you noticed all the questions I’ve been asking? Or all of the phrases I’ve italicized? I’ve done that on purpose. People forget that blogging is social media, and being social means knowing how to carry on a good conversation.

The way to do that when you’re actually talking to someone is to listen and ask the other person questions. It shows that person that you care about what they are thinking, and that it’s not all about you—because it’s not.

The same is true about a blog.

Creating a conversation also means you exchange words with each other after the blog post is done, usually in the comments, though some people prefer to email, which is fine.

If there isn’t a dialog then you’re talking to yourself, and that’s no fun. So at the end of your post, always ask people what they think and tell them to leave their thoughts in the comments.

Prove your points

It’s really important in your post to prove any claims that you make. For example, in the section where I said that graphs and stats in a post get more backlinks, I actually linked to another blog post that backed up what I was saying.

If you don’t do this, you’re likely to lose credibility and people won’t believe what you say.

But another benefit to proving your points by linking to other posts is that you are sharing with your audience another good source of information. And the chances are that author will probably link back to your blog at some point.

Show you are an authority

Lots of bloggers can get uncomfortable with this one because they feel like they’re tooting their own horn.

See, to show you’re an authority on a subject means you have to get other people or organizations to say that you are an authority. Then you point out that they said those things.

If you do that, it’s not bragging, but just pointing out the truth. Of course, it matters how you say it, so stay humble.

One way I show that I have the authority to speak on the subject of writing popular blog posts is by mentioning that my blog was a Technorati top-100 blog. It shows that someone else with lots of credibility recognized me as an expert.

Another way I could do this is by telling you how many readers Quick Sprout has. There must be a reason so many people like the blog, right?

I also mention that I’m a successful entrepreneur, which I can back up by telling you about the two companies I own. It’s not usually seen as bragging if you don’t force it, so look for ways that feel natural.

You’ll see blogs with “As Seen In” sections displaying the logos of important companies and media sources, like the Wall Street Journal, underneath. This is an endorsement—another way of showing you have authority.

Testimonials from readers and clients are also a form of authority. If you’re interested, I wrote a post on how to effectively use testimonials that explains more on this topic.

Care about your readers

One of the biggest lessons I learned from starting two blogs, and several companies, is that you have to care about people, and show them you care.

I love reading blogs where I can feel the writer’s concern for me. I try to do that on Quick Sprout, too. One obvious way to do this is by bringing attention to the people who have helped you be successful.

I’ve discovered that if truly care about people—including your readers—you will naturally try to write a popular blog post, because you are always looking for ways to write better. In other words, you’ll constantly try to learn new ways to improve your posts so you help more people. And that’s certainly a good recipe for success!

Conclusion

There’s a lot of competition in the blogosphere, so it’s easy to get frustrated when your blog is not getting the attention it deserves.

Be patient and use the tips that I shared above. I’m certain that within time you’ll start writing popular blog posts on a frequent basis.

What advice do you have for people who want to write a popular blog post?

Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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Neil Patel’s Guide to Writing Popular Blog Posts


ProBlogger Blog Tips

29Sep/110

The DWT Freelance Writing Course Re-Opens Today



In my opinion freelance writing is one of the best ways to make money online these days, and I speak from experience. When I started working online the majority of my income was coming from writing gigs, and I used that money to invest on my own websites.

That’s why earlier this year I invited a friend of mine (Ali Hale), who is a very successful freelance writer, to create a course with me on this topic. We launched it on Daily Writing Tips (my other blog). Over 400 students took the course already, and the feedback was great.

Today we’re opening the doors to the third edition. The course is a six-week program designed to teach you everything you need to know about making money freelance writing online. You’ll get written lessons every week (that you access on a special members’ site). They’ll cover:

Week #1 – Maximizing Your Productivity to Multiply Your Profits: During the first week you’ll learn techniques you can use to increase your productivity as a writer – if you can write fast without sacrificing quality, you’ll massively increase your earnings.

Week #2 – Website Setup, Promotion and Guest Blogging: Setting up your own freelancing website and building up your online writing credentials – essential if you want to be taken seriously and land online gigs.

Week #3 – Writing Content For The Web: Writing for the web is a totally different beast, and in this module you’ll learn techniques that can set you apart from other freelance writers.

Week #4 – Finding Clients and Developing High Paying Jobs: Finding great clients and high-paying jobs is probably the biggest challenge any freelance writer will face. The information provided in this module will help you overcome this challenge.

Week #5 – Running A Freelance Writing Business: Running your business effectively – because if you can’t communicate well with clients or if you miss deadlines, you’ll soon find yourself out of work.

Week #6 – Using Social Media To Promote Yourself: Social media is already considered an important part of modern marketing. In this module you’ll learn how to use it to promote yourself and land more clients.

If you want to get all the details and join click here to visit the official course page. Enrollment closes on Friday, September 30, so check it out today if you don’t want to miss it.


Original Post: The DWT Freelance Writing Course Re-Opens Today

Daily Blog Tips

23Sep/110

Why You Aren’t Writing to Your Audience



This is a guest post by Martyn Chamberlin. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

Has it happened to you?

You start a blog and try to get people to read your stuff. You spend oodles of time customizing your theme. You chew posts over your keyboard. You sit back and wait to be discovered. But instead of being discovered, you discover something:

Nobody gives a rip who you are.

Folks are busy. They only care about themselves. The only way to get their attention is to cater to their needs. You have to deliver hand-tailored goods crafted for them.

You have to write on target.

You are not writing to your audience as effectively as you think

Back when you first started blogging, you wrote for yourself whether you realized it or not. You tried to make it appealing to others but you did not do it effectively. Don’t feel bad; today’s seasoned writers made this mistake in their early days like you – they wrote for themselves.

Now to be fair, it is perfectly okay to write for yourself, just don’t be surprised nobody reads you. There are very few people who can attract a following through self-interest. When you are writing for yourself, you are the audience. There is nothing in it for other readers, and consequently you have just one regular subscriber – you.

If you want to build an audience, you must make others your audience, not yourself. Doubtless you already knew this, but I fear you are not doing this as effectively as you think.

Perhaps the best metric to judge your effectiveness is the number of comments you get. When you publish an article, you are inviting your audience to a dialog. Their reception will determine your effectiveness.

Have you ever written a post that attracted very few comments and said, “Well, I guess this just is not a comment-friendly post, but it is still creating value for my audience”? If so, then to a great degree you are still writing for yourself.

There is no such thing as a great article that is simply not “comment-friendly.” There is no such thing as a niche or topic that is not “comment-friendly.” There is only good writing and bad writing. The good writing gets a response, and the bad does not.

Look at you. You consider yourself a copywriter – you wordsmith articles to elicit a response. If you cannot convince readers to provide a response, you have failed the basics of copywriting. You have failed to write to anyone but yourself.

How can you write to your target audience?

Good copywriting begins with good listening.

It begins with analysis and research. It begins with careful examinations of what ticks your reader’s clocks.

Pay close attention to every word you hear from your target audience. Read their tweets, emails, and blog posts. Study their problems. Observe what is bothering them.

Do not write what you feel like writing at the moment, or else you will be writing to yourself. That is not copywriting. That is journaling.

Rather, deliver answers. Teach in such a way that they must read and respond. Be interesting.

Sometimes your audience does not know what it wants, which means you must innovate. Think twice, write once. Someone once said that the artist gives you what you did not know you needed. Learn to be this artist.

Nobody said effective writing was easy, but it can be achieved.

The call to action is not at the end of the post – it is the post

Every sentence of traditional copywriting has one purpose in view – to persuade the reader. If your post does not have a specific mission throughout, it is rambling, not copywriting.

You cannot throw a pile of paragraphs together with a two-sentence call to action at the end and expect results. That is foolishness. You have to be coherent.

Just as a salesman begins securing the sale the moment he starts pitching, you must determine your goal and weave it into the very fibre of your writing. This will never come across as spam to your readers since you are providing useful content throughout. They profit from your writing whether they respond or not; and the more they profit the more likely they are to respond.

Nobody loses in good writing.

This is where the money is, literally

Back in the days of the Cluetrain Manifesto you could post pictures of your dog and strangers would enjoy them. You could talk about yesterday’s breakfast disaster and a community would gather. But that was over a decade ago, and the Internet is much more saturated.

In order to build a money-making list, you have to work harder at writing to your audience. There is so much talk about this sort of thing, but sadly few writers truly “get it” and apply it to their writing. Most writers succeed half way but stop short.

We do not need more bloggers. We need more copybloggers.

Those who argue that making a full-time living from blogging only happens to “lucky” writers are assuming that you are primarily writing for yourself. If you make this assumption, the conclusion is absolutely correct.

But if you write for others, you will assuredly succeed. Despite the online saturation, there is always a demand for solutions.

The art of persuasion will never die.

Who are you writing for?

Martyn Chamberlin is a full-time web guy who blogs about the importance of web design and builds web sites that enhance great blogging, at TwoHourBloger.com. Visit his site to learn what it takes to succeed online and join the growing number of passionate writers becoming better bloggers.


Original Post: Why You Aren’t Writing to Your Audience

Daily Blog Tips

18Sep/110

You Can’t Wow Them Until You Whoa Them; Writing Headlines



Do you suck at writing headlines? Does it seem like you can’t get your blog posts read? Maybe it’s your headline. You want the headline to stop them from skim reading so you can wow them with your content.
There’s been a lot of talk about content lately. I hate to repeat that content is king, but it really is. However, if your content isn’t getting read, it doesn’t matter how great it is, no one will know about it.
How do you get your content read? First you have to grab the reader’s attention. You do that with a killer headline. In fact, you should practice writing headlines as much as possible. If you’re sitting there bored, can’t think of what to write, try writing some headlines.
First and foremost, headlines should be capitalized. That’s what grabs the reader’s attention. Filler words like to, or, for, by, etc. do not need capitalization, but all other words in your headline should be.

Example:
==> 7 easy ways to cut your costs
That doesn’t really grab a persons attention. A better way to write it is:
==> 7 Easy Ways to Cut Your Costs
This headline stands out and is more likely to grab the readers attention.

Can we improve this headline? Where are we cutting costs? Is it in business? Grocery shopping? Vacation costs?

Let’s pretend your reader is searching through RSS feeds. She’s trying to save money. Your site is all about saving money, but you have some other headlines to compete with.

The reader is skimming through the headlines. She finds:

  • Cut Your Grocery Costs
  • Save Money on Your Next Grocery Bill
  • Spend Less Money on Food
  • Cut Weekly Food Costs

Those may be interesting titles, but then she finds your headline and it states:

==> 7 Easy Ways to Save Money and Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half

This one is more likely to grab her attention. Why? Because you’ve told her it’s easy. People like easy. You’ve told her you’re going to save her money, which is what she’s looking for and you’re going to help her cut her food bill in half. This is a big plus. Saving money is one thing, but cutting the bill in half is better. However, if you use a headline like this you need to deliver on the promise. Never mislead a reader unless it serves a purpose.

That’s a pretty good headline, but we can also add some emotional pain if we want to. People are generally looking for solutions because they are in some kind of painful situation, including financial pain. In this case we could expand that headline even more:

Tired of Spending too Much on Food?
7 Easy Ways to Save Money and Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half
Using emotion in your headlines and the beginning of your article will not only grab her attention, but also let her know that you’ve been where she’s at and you’re going to give her some solutions to her problems.

Another thing to remember is your target audience. In my example I used ‘she’ instead of a generalization like ‘they’ or ‘the reader’. Why?

Because it’s easier to write for one person than it is to write for a crowd. If you target one person and speak to that one person, you will actually reach more people. Thinking about everyone in your target audience can also be overwhelming. What can you possibly say to all of those people? Instead, pick one person in your target audience and write to that person. It becomes much easier when you focus on one person.

There are many ways to grab a reader’s attention, but if you spend a little more time working on your title or headline, you’ll get a better response rate than you would with generic headlines.
Spend time each day writing out headlines. This will improve your skills and it also prepares your mind to start thinking more about headlines. Before long, it’ll be a breeze to come up with a great title.

For more tips on writing headlines, read this attention grabbing post and this one about sexy content.


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Blogging Tips

19Aug/110

Writing a Book – Making Money

Money!

MMMMMMMM, money. How do you make money writing a book?

Earlier posts in this series:
Writing a Book – Finding Time
Writing a Book – Discipline
Writing a Book – Structure
Writing a Book – Marketing And Promotion

So, we’re at the end of the series, kids, but lots of you have asked along the way, “but can I make any money at this book thing?” Here’s the real answer first: yes, but you’ve gotta work at it. Sorry. You don’t get all that rich writing books, unless you’re James Patterson or Stephen King or that marketing guy who made 7 figures selling ebooks through the Kindle store and will gladly sell you his secret to selling you ebooks. I didn’t buy a new car based on my book money. (I bought it based on speech money.) So, now that I’ve burst your bubble, I’m going to share some ways you can make money writing a book.

Teaching Sells

Think beyond the pages for a moment. Is the information you’re selling worth someone’s money? Then a book might not even be the best medium to make that money. If you sell a book with a mainstream press company, you’ll make somewhere between and a book (in most cases). That means, it takes around 15,000 sales at to make ,000. (Please applaud at my math skills- I’m a marketer). Now, sell a class on the topic of that book for , and you only have to find around 310 buyers to make the same amount. Yep. 310 buyers are easier to find than 15,000. Consider that most US business books sell fewer than 5,000 copies in their lifetime, and it’s a pretty dismal thing to consider making money selling a book the old fashioned way. Oh, and I know this is another stupid calculator trick, but if you sell your course for 7, you only need 102 people. What kind of course is worth that? Hmmm. A real estate license course would probably be worth that. You see where I’m going, right?

Speaking Sells

Julien Smith and I didn’t exactly buy matching ponies with the money. We could have made more in a year selling popcorn than selling books, BUT books have this incredible power to them: they act as visible social proof that you might know something. A book with a “New York Times Bestseller” across the top means that you might REALLY know something. And thus, when CEOs wander into this or that store, or their marketing nerd employee (was that you?) drops our book off on the CEO’s desk and she raises her eyebrow in curiosity, there’s a chance for Julien and I to go speak professionally at their event, to their board, to whatever/whoever. And professional speaking certainly can pay well. So that’s another way to make money off a book: get it to a spot where people want YOU because they liked the book.

Selling Bits

So why not sell something digitally? There are great ways to do that. You could write something of value, post it up on ClickBank or similar sites, and get people to buy it digitally over and over again. That’s not a bad little plan actually. And if you do use something like ClickBank, they let you have affiliate sellers, which means that you can invite other people who have built an audience into your little project and you can split some of the money with them. If you’re going to do this, consider giving 50% and you’ll get a pretty decent bunch of people willing to run with your ebook. Nothing bad about that. There’s real money to be made, especially if you get a bunch of decent products moving. Thing is, everyone else who’s selling a bland and not-especially-amazing book is also selling through those channels, and so there’s a lot of competition for attention and thus, it falls back on you to be the most amazing marketer in the world. Again.

Pushing Paper

You can make money selling actual books. People do. It just takes a lot more work moving units. If you’re going to go that route, than I strongly recommend that YOU do all the work, that you get the book bound and pressed (there are a gazillion places that do this now), and that YOU go about getting the things distributed. There are tons of books on this. If you want to publish how-to information specifically, I own, have read, and can vouch for How to Write & Sell Simple Information for Fun and Profit: Your Guide to Writing and Publishing Books, E-Books, Articles, Special Reports, Audio Programs, DVDs, and Other How-To Content (amazon affiliate link).

But in that specific case, you know that you can do the distribution and you know that YOU can put those books in people’s hands. It’s a really tough row to hoe, and I hear about so many authors who have garages full of their amazing book.

So, Where’s The Money?

To me, the money was laid out to you in pretty much the order of best-to-worst money-making. You can make much more money faster if you sell your book as a course instead. You can make money if you sell speaking. You can make money by selling digitally instead of in paper form, and you can sell paper books, if you’re not scared off yet by my putting it dead last in the options of making money. Publishing in the mainstream doesn’t make the list exactly, because it becomes the bait in the larger game. Don’t cry for publishers, however. They make their money their own ways, and I still work with the mainstream press, so that tells you what I think of them.

The money for fiction authors? Oh, I forgot that part. That doesn’t work. Fiction is about passion except for the very few percent of the herd who really can move books like no one’s business. For every James Patterson and Stephanie Meyer and JK Rowling, there are gazillions of people who have a much better secret agent, and vampire romance and bunch of punchy wizards who are just aching to be found by all the world’s already-sated crowds. You’re doomed. I mean, write fiction for love, but don’t call up Starbucks and quit just yet. It’s just not likely to happen for MOST of us.

And the Secret Is Last

Magazines pay pretty darned well. Between what I get from Entrepreneur, MPI, and a few other writing gigs, I make six figures. Yep, it’s not all that sexy. Nope, it’s not necessarily as glamorous some days as walking into Bord– um, Walden–…er, Barnes & Noble (they’re still around!) and seeing your book on the New Releases shelf, but cashing checks? Well, that’s pretty darned good. Magazines, especially ones no one has ever heard of, pay the best of them all. But the work is hard and fast-paced and not nearly as sexy.

There you have it, my friends. Money (and not money) in the publishing world.

Do it for love all you want, but if you want the money, that’s how I understand the game from my perspective. I wish you fortune.

orrrr, if you want another secret…well, never mind. Don’t go here. not worth it. just a thought.




chrisbrogan.com