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Sourced from Inc.

Business leaders have great ideas, but don’t always share them clearly in writing. It’s time to change that.

Jeff Bradford, an Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) member in Nashville, is the founder of the Bradford Group and president of Bradford Dalton Group, a full-service public relations and advertising agency with offices in Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Nashville. We asked Jeff how you can improve your writing skills. Here’s what he shared:

I’ve spent a lifetime learning how to write and edit other people’s writing. Below is a collection of tips I’ve amassed over the years to help you become a better writer.

Good writing is good thinking.

Too often, I see people simply throw everything they know on the page with nothing connecting the dots. Make sure your ideas are clear before trying to communicate them, and that the flow of thoughts you want to communicate proceeds in a clear and easily decipherable pattern. Make sure that each sentence and paragraph flows naturally and rationally from the one before it. The reader should be able to easily retrace the path you followed to arrive at your conclusion.

If you want to write better, read better writers.

Good writing requires more than knowing the rules of grammar. It has a certain style and art about it that makes people want to read it. It’s not easy to describe, but there are basic rules like: avoid redundancy, don’t use the same word twice in close proximity, and use an active voice. The best way to learn a compelling writing style and how to use the right style in every situation is to read good writers. To paraphrase Truman Capote, writers who don’t read aren’t really writing: They’re just typing.

Jargon is about pre-chewed ideas.

Jargon is often used by people who can’t digest original concepts. Don’t get me started on jargon. I loathe it. It’s ugly. It makes you look stupid. It annoys people. It’s cheap substitute for thinking.

Empathize with your reader.

A writer’s primary job is to make it easy for readers to understand him. It’s not to show off what a good writer you are. In fact, the more you draw attention to your writing, the worse it is.

Think only about the reader and his needs when you’re writing, not about you and your needs. Try and get inside your reader’s head. Seek to understand what he wants to know, how he feels about your topic, what his fears and delights are. Then, do you best to give him what he wants without drawing attention to how you’re doing it.

Use only as many words as necessary.

Good writing is economical. Unfortunately, because of college requirements to write essays with a specified word count (it was 500 words when I was in school, which seems short now, but was such a hurdle then), many of us got into the habit of padding our writing with unnecessary verbiage. Stop that. I recommend you re-read what you write and find a way to cut it down by at least 10 percent. It will always be a better product if you do.

Good writers are naturally curious.

Always seek something new to learn, and you’ll be worth listening to. Good writing requires a deep well of knowledge you can draw from to make your point, explain an idea, or capture the reader’s imagination. So, in addition to reading often and widely, you should also live life fully to build up a cache of experiences.

Avoid adjectives and adverbs.

Use more precise nouns or verbs instead. Don’t say that someone lightly knocked on the door. Say she tapped on the door. I think Hemingway was the best at this.

You can’t break rules you don’t know.

Picasso once said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” That is, he had internalized the rules of classical painting to such a degree that he was able to paint so compellingly by breaking those rules. He knew how to break them in a way that led to better art. Same with writing. The best writers successfully bend the rules because they know them so well.

The best way to write well is to write often. Write when you don’t feel like it, when you think you have nothing to say, and under a pressing deadline. Write in different formats, and learn how to adapt your style to each. Practice, practice, practice. Eventually, writing will come as naturally as speaking–and your speaking will probably become more precise, with fewer “you know” and “like” and “um” and other filler words.

Featured Image Credit: Getty Images

Sourced from Inc.

e all have those pieces of writing that strike a chord within us each time we read them. You know what I’m talking about — those works that hit you in the feels with their is-the-author-inside-my-brain sentences.

Think about why you love your favourite authors and writers. What do they offer that you can’t get enough of?

For me, that’s how I feel whenever I read something by Stephen King or Sloane Crosley. Those two know how to transport readers smack-dab in the middle of a story.

When King writes about doom and gloom and apocalyptic nightmares, you feel it to your core.

When Crosley describes her New York City apartment, you’re sitting right there with her on her couch.

It’s their ability to immerse readers into their plotlines with strategic language that makes them exceptional writers.

In fact, that’s what inspired my newsletter/side project, Kat Loves Copy.

But how do they do it?

I’m going to share three ways to swiftly win over new readers using tried-and-true writing methods.

I’ll also show you how to apply these techniques to content marketing, whether it’s for your clients or your own work.

1. Write like you speak

The quickest way to lose your audience’s attention is to write in a way that sounds like a lecture from the economics teacher, played by Ben Stein, in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

And what do we say to writing that’s boring? Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

The best kind of writing reads like a conversation between the author and the reader.

It’s engaging. It’s two-sided. Readers feel invested in what you have to say, just as they would if you were having the conversation in real life.

So, how do you achieve that to win new readers? Write as if you’re speaking with a friend or colleague. It may sound simple, and in many ways, it is, but it takes practice.

Let’s look at two different approaches to this writing technique:

First, think about how you might explain a topic to your friend:

  • What words and phrases would you use?
  • How would you position your opinion?
  • What titbits or examples would you lean on to get your point across?

It may be helpful to make a list of these answers as you think of them so you can refer back as you write.

Once you start writing, locate where you can inject a bit of your personality and unique conversational tone that’s appropriate for your audience.

For example, instead of writing, “Here are six homemade dog treat recipes,” you could say, “Let’s look at six different homemade dog treat recipes because, let’s be honest, our four-legged friends deserve a variety of treats.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. The first example is completely fine. But the second example has more personality to it, which will likely be more engaging.

The second approach is to record yourself having a conversation with a colleague (or solo) about your topic of choice.

Listening to how you discuss, analyze, and present different sides of your argument can drive clear, yet descriptive, writing. Just be sure to cut unnecessary filler words.

I recommend recording a video call, so you can pick up on things like your body language and visual queues, if you’re speaking to someone else.

2. Use figurative and descriptive language to paint a picture

Want to transport your readers into your narrative instantly?

Dust off your grade school English textbook and revisit the figurative language chapter.

Let’s review the most widely used figures of speech:

Simile

A simile is when you compare two, unlike things using “like” or “as.”

For example, that puppy is as cute as a button.

Or, reading that blog post was like watching paint dry.

Comparisons help clarify your message and explain the familiar yet undefined. They’re a type of metaphor and excellent writing tools for when describing something with one word doesn’t quite feel enough.

Metaphor

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a metaphor is “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them.”

Metaphors are workhorses of description that intrigue your audience and help you win new readers. They allow you to paint a picture beyond corresponding adjectives and nouns.

“A freshly paved tar road enveloped the night sky” is far more vivid to read than “the night sky was dark,” right?

Hyperbole

With hyperbole, it seems as though the more exaggeration, the better. And hyperbole is just that — extreme exaggeration.

This figure of speech is for emphasis. However, it can provide added humor due to its over-the-top nature.

For example, “I have one million things on my to-do list” or “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse” are common uses of hyperbole.

Another example comes from Dick Clark during his Daytime Emmy Award acceptance speech:

“Please sit down because having produced nine million award shows, I know the producer’s up there saying, ‘Hurry, say thanks fast.’”

These figures of speech help convey ideas, points of view, and details. Just make sure you’re using them in a way that adds value to your readers and doesn’t distract.

3. Use empathy wisely in your writing

In the wise words of Sonia Simone:

“When you write content and copy, your most important job is that of Chief Empathy Officer for your audience.”

Connection. It all boils down to connection. You could craft the most eloquent, well-written article, but it won’t mean a single thing unless it connects with your reader.

Empathy is a powerful tool that fosters a bond between you and your readers.

It helps you figuratively reach out from the page and say:

“I understand your problem or concern, dear reader, now, let me show you what to do about it.”

From a content marketing perspective, this is true whether you’re trying to sell a product or get readers to take any form of action.

But first, you have to understand your audience enough to write something that resonates with them. If you don’t know your audience, you won’t know how to connect with them and naturally win new readers.

Consider these questions when researching your audience:

  • What are their problems?
  • What makes them tick?
  • What’s the best way to communicate with them?
  • What kind of solution should you offer?

Knowing your audience means knowing how to serve them, and that’s the cornerstone of high-quality content. However, the buck doesn’t stop there.

Once you know your audience, you have to write in a tone that matches. In other words — and I say this lovingly — read the room.

If your tone doesn’t match the topic, it will be difficult (if not nearly impossible) to create a bond with your reader.

To do this, put your research cap back on. The same principles apply when figuring out how to write in your own voice. What language does your audience use? What phrases or words do they resonate with?

Get inside the mind of your audience, figure out what they need, and deliver.

Prioritize your audience

Most people are short on time and attention. That means you only get one chance to capture their hearts and win new readers.

By injecting details and your personality into your writing, you’re able to open the door to connect with your readers and encourage them to stick with you.

But while your writing voice is important, make sure your readers can still find themselves in your words.

After all, it’s not about you. It’s about them.

By Kat Ambrose

Kat Ambrose is a freelance writer for B2B SaaS and eCommerce platforms.

Sourced from  copyblogger

By Ralf Llanasas.

Given the growth of social media and content marketing, there has been a visible growth in online writing businesses. The demand for writers in today’s information age will keep on rising. The success that awaits is exciting, but admittedly, it can be challenging to deal with the day-to-day pressures of managing tasks and the business-side itself.

So here’s a good question to ask: What can you do to maximize your writing opportunities? How do you improve your writing business management? Here are five tools that you should incorporate into your activities to streamline your workflow.

  1. Simul

In a writing business, you don’t handle things on your own. Your success is dependent on other writers and editors. Having different people checking out write-ups would also entail having revisions and a little back-and-forth until the client is satisfied with your output

This is where Simul comes in. This software will allow you to compare Word documents and track the changes in the document. It also allows multiple people to collaborate in real-time, showing the changes made by each party, and allowing you to choose which one was better. With Simul, preparing documents and writing articles will be so much easier.

  1. Whitesmoke

No human writer is ever error-proof. Whether you are a native speaker or well-studied in the English language, you are bound to make mistakes, so you need software to do some checking for you. Whitesmoke provides these solutions, with features like spelling, grammar, punctuation, and style checks to help you correct and enhance all your written works.

  1. BPlans 

In building a business, advice from experts can help you achieve the goals yourself and boost the growth of your brand. Bplans is a resource filled with various business know-how that can help you set up and get ahead. They offer business plan templates, guides, marketing reports, pitch templates, and other tools you never knew you needed. From coming up with a business idea to learning how to be a business manager, Bplans has a wide selection of videos, blogs, and other pieces that will serve as your digital mentor and guide.

  1. Xmind 

Developing ideas is essential in gaining a competitive edge in your business.  More than that, your creativity must be at its best for you to be able to write better and offer something new to your clients. Xmind is an amazing software that will help you keep track of your ideas and opening you to the possibilities that can grow from them.

Xmind offers mind mapping features, with a version that offers a more modern design and another going with the traditional route. This is perfect for people who require more organization in their projects and for those who want to retain more information in the things they are trying to learn. You can create non-linear documents, organization charts, matrix, timelines, and other

  1. Daily Grammar

As a writer, improving your grammar skills is a vital part of the job. Expanding your vocabulary and learning about the different rules can help you produce topnotch work and set you apart from your competitors. Aside from reading books and watching video lessons, you can also explore the available resources from Daily Grammar.

Daily Grammar is a teaching tool for people of all ages and English proficiency levels. You can explore 440 grammar lessons and 88 quizzes to test your knowledge. They also have a daily newsletter that will give you tips and lesson reminders to keep you on the road towards the best writer you can be.

These five tools are just a few among the thousands of apps and programs out there, but they can be a good way to start. The key to succeeding in your writing business is to do this important thing: write. By continuously practicing this skill, you’ll learn more and you will be amazed at how far you can go!

By Ralf Llanasas

Ralf Llanasas is a content marketer at Simul docs specializing topics in business technology, SaaS, and automation. His writings can be read across different online publications.  He love’s taking photographs when free. Follow him on Twitter at @IamRalf12.

By Oscar

Blogging is crucial for every web business to progress in the digital realm. But what most people forget is the fact that blog posts require frequent updating. Competition fumes up every day in the blogging world, making it very difficult for websites to survive. A great deal of pressure is on marketers that require publication of blogs that are crisp, unique, and updated as well. More or less successful blogging requires only one thing, and that is “consistency.” Without consistency, your content is just like a piece of plastic floating on the surface of the ocean, just lying there without any purpose, like garbage. Blogging is more like an inbound strategy aimed at generating more qualified leads. Even studies support the fact that blogging acquires 126% more leads.

As we move into the year 2020, it’s crucial for marketers to level up their blogging game. Old generic tactics for blogging aren’t going to work in 2020. Every New Year starts with a banging resolution, and your resolution this year should be to publish content that not only speaks for itself but leaves a significant impact on your audience search queries as well. Content that is able to speak for itself but fails to rank in Google’s top 10 isn’t going to do any good to you in the long run. All the blogs that you put forth should be able to convert into the maximum amount of leads and sales.

I have curated this blog, specifically for marketers who either don’t know their way around towards successful blog creation or have lost their touch with it. Hence, follow this guide given below to ensure you create content that compellingly engages your audience, driving towards more leads and sales.

  • Work on the Anatomy of the Blog Post

Every successful blog requires one thing in its initial phase, and that is creating a killer outline. Every great blog should start with a catchy yet compelling headline because that’s probably the first thing that attracts the reader’s eye. Next, always add in interesting images and infographics relevant to your topic. Then write a creative introduction. Your introduction should have the power to engage your readers quickly. Introduction is a crucial element of a blog that can either make or break your blog. It’s the only thing that will keep your audience from visiting your competitor’s website.

After you have given an outstanding introduction, highlight your main points in either a paragraph or bullet points, and briefly explain them. Always give a conclusion in the end with an invitation or feedback or probably a call to action would do. Create a comment section as well, where viewers can leave comments about their experiences with your brand or ask queries.

  • Do SEO Like a Pro

On-site SEO always pays off. About 70-80% of users go for organic research and tend to ignore paid research. When you successfully optimize your page for on-page SEO, you are automatically driving more visitors to your website. On-page optimization takes two factors into consideration, and that is the content that you put in and the HTML. Three things that matter the most for on-page SEO and the is the value of content, use of keywords, and the overall user experience.

Your choice of keywords in your blog content shall be overlooked from your audience perspective. Make use of online tools such as a Google AdWords keywords planner and create long-tail keywords. Insert these keywords in the headlines, the content, and in the sub-heading. But always stay mindful of keyword stuffing. Refrain from using your keywords too much and avoid putting them in the wrong places. Such practice is considered demeaning and can even cost you your page since Google tends to take down such pages.

  • Pick Out a Rich Topic

Your customers must always be your top-most priority. Also, pick out a topic that caters to your audience in a useful way. Don’t create content on topics that the internet is already filled with. Try writing on topics that are unique, informative, and inspiring in every way. The audience online craves content that is authentic and follows a genuine idea, so, always incorporate rare ideas that drive originality, concept, and offer fruitful knowledge to your readers.

Other than choosing a mind-blowing topic, also make sure of what keeps on bugging your audience. Keep reviewing comments on blog posts to see if your audience is in need of any assistance. Cater to all their search queries properly. Send them a handful of surveys every now and then to gain relevant insights and keep a follow-up on their experience with your brand. Utilize online tools such as Buzzsumo, to educate yourself on popular posts in your niche. These tips will surely help you in taking your blogs to cloud nine.

  • Insert Stats

Adding statistical information in blogs will surely, add more value. Providing evidence-based content always creates a win-win situation for both the brand and the audience. Conduct an in-depth analysis and incorporate your findings in your introduction. This will make your blog more appealing to your audience, driving them to read more as well as allowing them to keep coming back for more. It’s proven that due to short attention spans, people only read 18% of your blog posts.

Other than your audience, it also benefits Google, as Google is pretty much eager to know what kind of audience is visiting your website. It wants to gain insights on how many users have moved from your page to another, how much time they spend reading your posts, and what they think about your website in general. Thus, when you write a data-driven blog, you are creating more ways for your audience to stay hooked on your website for a longer period of time and always prefer your website, your content, and your brand over anything.

Wrapping Up

Are you ready to level up your blog post-game in Google’s top 10? Are you prepared to see your website on Google’s first page? Then, you have landed just right! Please read this blog thoroughly as it enlists all-important vital points that you should follow to increase your rankings in no time.

By Oscar

Oscar is a passionate digital marketer who has discovered the importance of content in the online world. Currently he is working as the lead of his content team in Wikipedia LLC. Apart from being a wiki expert content producer, he is a book worm who loves to read day in night out.

Sourced from PromotionWorld

By Rachael Hope

Edit away un-necessary words

I spent 9 years off and on doing ghostwriting work for a company that provides blog posts and articles for online marketing to its customers. I learned a lot during that time both about how writing for online sources differs from other types of writing, and about writing in general. When you need to catch someone’s attention in the first sentence to compel them to keep reading, you get good at making those words count.

Conditioning myself to edit out un-necessary words has made a huge improvement in my personal writing. In ghostwriting, we had specific word counts to be followed, so if our articles were too long we’d have to really examine if all of the words we’d put down needed to be there. Eliminating filler words, or phrases that don’t actually add anything to the piece of writing, is the number one way to do that.

I now spend most of my free time writing for myself on a variety of subjects. After I “finish” writing a piece, I spend a good amount of time reading and re-reading it, refining sentences, and deleting these extraneous words. It’s not that they don’t make sense where they are, but they take up space and more importantly, they use up some of my reader’s limited attention span.

Editing allows you to the opportunity to make your writing more relatable, more personal, more interesting, and more engaging. Eliminating these 11 words and phrases is an easy place to start.

Had/Has

Before: I had learned to prepare the dumplings from my grandmother.

After: My grandmother taught me how to prepare the dumplings, her arms encircling mine as she showed me how to fold the delicate wrappers.

‘Had learned’ or ‘has learned’ are both examples of passive fillers. When you’re writing to connect and engage with people, writing in the active voice is almost always better than writing passively. Use the opportunity to draw someone in to your story, to paint a picture with your words rather than just describing the situation.

One of

Before: One of the best things about writing on Medium is that you can connect with the community.

After: Connecting with writers who share the same passions is one of my favorite things about Medium.

Almost everything is ‘one of’ some other number of things. When you’re trying to capture someone’s attention, a sentence beginning with filler words is never going to be your friend. Especially when writing to publish online, you’ve got a very limited amount of time to draw a reader in and you have to work to keep their attention. In the second sentence, you get straight to the meat of it: connection. In this case, the edit also allows you to offer something personal about yourself rather than telling the person what they can do, which can be a great way to relate to your reader.

Truth be told

Before: Truth be told, I really hate black licorice.

After: Black licorice is nauseating.

I’m not sure how this phrase got so popular, but it only serves to make writing sound outdated. Unless the things you wrote up to the point of usage were lies, there’s really no reason to point out that you believe what you’re writing is the truth. Most writers are writing their truths. Additionally, you’ve got another case of beginning a sentence in passivity. Putting the black licorice at the front gives you the opportunity to use more interesting, active language at the end of the sentence.

While

Before: While growing up, I lived in a shack.

After: Growing up, I lived in a small shack on the edge of the woods.

‘While’ or ‘while I was’ are both phrases that can be re-worked to be more active and eye-catching for your reader. Even if all you do is remove the word and make the second word the beginning of your sentence, it will do more to engage your reader and draw them in to what you’re sharing.

I think

Before: I think we could all learn something from Bill Nye, the Science Guy.

After: The lessons I’ve learned from Bill Nye, the Science Guy have changed my life.

Everything you write is full of things you think. Sometimes it feels good to put an ‘I think’ in front of something, because it acts as a bit of a buffer, making it clear that this is an opinion and not a truth. Be bold with your writing! Instead of using the words ‘I think,’ paint a picture of what you’re talking about, and why you feel the way you do.

In the end

Before: In the end, I decided that quitting my job was the right choice.

After: Quitting my job wasn’t easy, but I’ve never looked back.

‘In the end’ is just another filler phrase that doesn’t serve much purpose. Maybe it’s a throwback to our grade school days when we were taught that every piece of writing needed a beginning, a middle, and an end. I know that sometimes when I’m writing and nearing the end of a piece, I have an urge to wrap it up nicely. Doing that with ‘in the end,’ is just lazy writing.

When all’s said and done

Before: When all’s said and done, baking cookies is super fun.

After: Baking cookies is a fun hobby, with the added bonus that people love you.

Another un-necessary set of words that writers use to wrap something up. Look how much more active and playful you can make a sentence by removing that language and focusing on the fun of the hobby.

There are

Before: There are a thousand different ways to practice polyamory.

After: Polyamory comes in almost endless iterations.

‘There are’ was one of the very first phrases I learned to avoid when I started writing for online audiences. If your goal is to capture your reader’s attention, ‘are’ is a passive verb at best. Changing it up allows you to highlight your subject and make a sentence more active and compelling to your reader.

Starting to / Begin to

Before: I’m starting to think there’s more to the story than he’s letting on.

Before: I began to wonder if there was more to the story than he was letting on.

After: Something felt off, my gut told me that he wasn’t giving me the whole story.

‘Starting’ or ‘beginning’ are passive words. Why talk about beginning to wonder when you can just talk about wondering? Removing the passive voice creates the opportunity to instead highlight how or why something felt a certain way, or why you were thinking it.

Sometimes

Before: Sometimes, especially in the beginning, it can be…

After: Especially in the beginning, it can be…

‘Sometimes’ is another good example of a word that doesn’t need to be written because it’s almost always implied. Unless you’ve written something beforehand that makes it necessary to specify that this isn’t something that happens all the time, people will generally assume that you’re talking about sometimes.

Almost every phrase I’ve listed here is empty filler. Every time you find it in your writing is an opportunity to replace it with something more active, more descriptive, and more engaging. The more you work this angle, the easier it will get to spot them and re-work the words into something even better.

All rules have exceptions, but paying attention to whether the words you’re using really need to be there will give you better insight into your writing. It will force you to become a more active and intentional writer who always strives for improvement.

Feature Image Credit: By Anne Karakash from Pixabay

By Rachael Hope

Sourced from The Writing Cooperative

By Jason Weiland

What it’s like to analyze everything I do

I’ve been writing my whole life. But, I didn’t start blogging until my twenties.

Back then I called it “online journaling” because blogging and WordPress weren’t a thing yet.

I’ve journaled since I was young, so when I became interested in the internet in the 1990s, I tried to figure out a way to put my personal observations online. As I said, there was no WordPress, so I had to get creative.

This is my journey!

(I tried to use the Internet Archive to find screenshots of my old websites, but it didn’t go that far back. Let’s just say that all my websites were awesome and well before their time. You’ll have to take my word for it!)

BigHeadBoy.com

In the early 1990s, I taught myself how to use Photoshop and HTML and started building simple websites. As you can imagine, my first sites were horrendous! I think I remember clashing colors, loud tiled backgrounds, and animated GIFs of gophers dancing across the page.

After some time, my Photoshop skills got better, and I started creating interesting designs. But because of the nature of bandwidth at that time, images on web pages had to be very small. I figured out a way to create a graphical interface that had a small file size but was very appealing. I wish I had a screenshot.

It was an image of me with the head enlarged and some fancy clickable buttons. I would add new journal entries a few times a week, but each page had to be coded, so it took some time. I got well versed at cutting and pasting.

Eventually, HTML got better and better, and I added some very neat animated rollover buttons (again, I wish I had made screenshots). My first job as a web designer came because somebody saw my website and was impressed with my skills.

Not only did I love designing and coding the web pages, but I enjoyed writing online. Back then, the only comments I received were through email, because there wasn’t any way to add comments to a website yet. People reacted positively, and it’s one of the reasons I continued to design and write online.

I eventually got too unwell to continue updating the website. BigHeadBoy.com stayed with me for some time, and later when I started my own web design firm, BigHeadBoy Design, we used the domain for the company website.

When you clicked on this dude’s big head it loaded the website! (image owned by Jason Weiland)

During one of the years I was hospitalized quite a bit, I failed to renew the domain and lost it. Someone else snapped it up, but they never developed it.

JasonWeiland.com

There was a time I owned the .com for my name and used it as a portfolio/online journal. I was experimenting with design, and I used typefaces in interesting ways. I changed this website about once a month as I learned new things like JavaScript and CSS.

As far as the writing, I didn’t do anything groundbreaking because I was using the site as a portfolio, so I had to be very careful what I wrote about.

Again, I got sick and lost the domain.

SchizoIncognito.com

During the next few years, much was going on in my life with my marriage and my mental health. For some reason, I felt I should protect myself, so I started blogging anonymously. I’d never felt the need to hide before, but I needed to say some things that I didn’t want my family knowing.

I wrote with brutal openness. Some people were turned off because I was writing about my experiences with psychosis and self-harm. But, I had quite a few fans who followed religiously, even though I don’t think my writing was particularly good.

One of the banners I used for the site. (image owned by Jason Weiland)

I got some publicity one day, and I felt like the people writing it were trying much too hard to find out who I was in real life, so I shuttered the blog and never reopened it.

JasonWeiland.net

More recently, I wrote about the changes in my life after my last suicide attempt. I wrote a lot about my mental health, diet, and the businesses I tried and failed to start.

This blog changed quite a bit, as I used it as a way to get freelance clients at times.

It’s no longer active, but I may open it again soon.

ChangingMineChangingYours.com

A few months ago, I got the idea to start a blog chronicling the life and times of my family and I. I had thought to talk about the two girls we were going to foster, but they ended up going back to their mother. I’ve been paying attention to it more now that my wife is pregnant again, and I plan to start writing three times a week.

I guess when I started writing almost every day on Medium, this blog took a back seat. But that will change.

The site itself is not even complete. I don’t even have a mailing list set up, and so far I’ve only posted twice (and an about page). If you want to take a look, please let me know what you think so far.

That is Not All

I’ve had many, many more blogs, but these were either the most interesting, or the ones that changed my life somehow.

Blogging and journaling have been part of my life for as long as I can remember, so I’m sure I will keep doing them for as long as I can. Finding Medium has changed the game a bit for me, but I still think there is a place for standalone blogs on the internet. I know I will probably always have at least one going.

Blogging is great fun, and I feel if I ever decide to stick to it long enough, one day I will be successful with it.

It doesn’t hurt to try.

By Jason Weiland

Sourced from The Writing Cooperative

By Heidi Cohen

Every writer has days when he or she sits down to write and the words just don’t flow. You write one sentence and check how many words you added in the hope it will miraculously be sufficient.

The problem writers have is when their hearts aren’t in the writing, it shows. (Here’s how to overcome your writing demons.)

To help you get your writing on track, here are 21 tips to prevent you from getting what I affectionately call blank-screen syndrome:

1. Create a list of articles you want to write but don’t have time. It’s easy to get inspired to write about other topics when the pressure’s on to write about something else. There’s nothing like a deadline to make anything else seem exciting.

2. Feed your mind. Read a book, blogs or news sites to get ideas. This isn’t an excuse to get a snack or other indulgence.

3. Develop a story around a trending topic, even if it’s not your area of focus. The objective is to stretch yourself to find a way to write about the hot topic. This can be useful when you need to keep your content relevant.

4. Keep a swipe file. Sign up for a range of newsletters that focus on your main topics to see what other writers and bloggers cover. Save articles that provide new insights or formats for inspiration. This doesn’t mean you should copy someone else’s ideas or articles.

5. Collect relevant questions about your topic. Think like you’re writing an endless FAQ. A list of questions gives you a hook to build your content around. This is particularly useful for blogs and company content.

6. Get a head start. Before you quit a writing session, write down the ideas you have for the next one. Form them into an outline and add it to your current document to make it easy for you to pick up where you left off.

7. Remove distractions. Close your social media sites, chat and email. It’s useful to have a dedicated space for writing.

8. Make an appointment to write. Set your timer or alarm for a specific time. That’s when you have to start writing.

9. Change writing environments. If you always write at your kitchen table, try writing at a coffee shop or local library.

10. Seek inspiration. Do something that provides you with a muse. Go to a play or museum.

11. Write a piece using someone else’s title. The goal isn’t to steal another writer’s work, but to force yourself to write with someone else’s framework. You can also do this with one of your own articles. Force yourself to write a second piece that’s completely different from the first but has the same title.

12. Tell a story. One way to make your writing memorable is to turn it into a story. Include a beginning, middle and end. Even if you’re writing about research, you need to make it memorable. Here are some storytelling tips and inspiration for 29 types of corporate stories.

13. Break complex topics into smaller chunks. Sometimes you need to have more manageable goals. A complicated topic might work well if you divide it into multiple targeted topics.

14. Start where the energy is. You don’t have to write everything in order or start at the beginning. Begin where you’re inspired.

15. Leave room for discussion. You don’t need to say everything there is to say about your topic.

16. Use a human voice. When you read your writing, does it sound like something a real person would say or did you let it devolve into corporate gibberish? If your writing is boring, people won’t read it no matter how important your points are.

17. Write in an active voice. The goal is to make your writing as strong as possible. Your article will lose a lot of vitality if you overuse the passive voice.

18. Skip the four letter words. While it’s good to use a human voice, it’s poor form to fill your writing with a lot of slang and curses. Although they attract attention, it’s not always the type you want.

19. Let it rest. If you’ve been pounding away on a piece for a while, take a break. This doesn’t mean you should abandon your work. Get the main points down and wait a bit before you edit.

20. Read your article out loud. It’s amazing how many errors you’ll find.

21. Check your spelling and usage. While most people write on a computer, it’s critical to make sure you used the correct words. Spell checkers can’t tell the difference between they’re, their or there since all three are spelled correctly.

Although a few lucky writers never hit a dry spell, you might. Try some of these techniques to keep your writing in top form. Like many other skills, the more you do it, the better and faster you’ll be.

By Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is president of Riverside Marketing Strategies. Follow her on Twitter @heidicohen.

Sourced from Ragan’s PR Daily

Sourced from WONGEDSO.COM

We’ve all have seen those silly ads on the internet boasting about making thousands of dollars while sitting in the comfort of your home. Perhaps you’ve even clicked on one or two of those links just to make sure these completely fake ads weren’t cleverly disguised real ones created to “weed out the skeptics.” (Or is that just me?)

But if you’re looking for legitimate ways to transform a writing side gig into a full-time business, we’ve got you covered. Here are five ways you can do it — without breaking your wallet or hitting the proverbial “brick wall” along the way.

1. The $5 Marketing Campaign

A big concern that many freelancers have when considering going full time is the cost of marketing. However, one easy solution is to tweak the five-dollars-a-day investing plan and use the proceeds to promote your growing business.

Here’s how it works: Put aside five dollars every day of the month, and at the end of the month, you will have roughly $150, which can be used to grow your brand and pay for various forms of marketing.

The best way to use this money is by putting half of it into social media marketing and the other half into search engine optimization (SEO) for your site. This will allow you to earn some traffic, create an engaged fan base on your personal blog, and expand your reach on the web.

If five dollars a day is a bit steep for you, you can create your own free marketing campaign by joining groups on social media associated with writing. From there, you can market yourself and make new client connections, which will lead to even more projects in your portfolio. Having an impressive and well-rounded portfolio will lead to — you guessed it — more projects and more revenue.

2. Build Your Website

From an SEO and marketing standpoint, having a web presence for your business is absolutely essential. Although hiring a developer to build a custom site can be expensive, you could opt for a DIY website builder, which allows you to build a site without knowing how to code. If that’s a bit beyond your technical abilities, try easy-to-use sites like WordPress that come with a variety of templates that you can select according to your business’s needs.

Once you have your site up and running, it’s time to create content. Whether it’s a description of what services you offer or samples of your work, be sure to focus on keywords and optimizing SEO, which will attract even more visitors to your site.

And remember, you want your site to be aesthetically pleasing and to contain good content, both of which will increase your traffic and your click-through rate. The idea is that you want someone to buy — or at least inquire about — your services before they click off of your page.

3. Make It Personal

Developing personal relationships — and including personal touches — when dealing with customers (or editors) can make all the difference.

For instance, personalized emails or calls during project progress can separate you from the faceless (and all too often voiceless) competitors within your market. If you are charismatic in nature, use this to your advantage to establish a rapport with clients. That way, they’ll be more likely to hire you again, since they “know” you.

4. Be Professional

If you’re looking to make the leap from freelancer to full-time entrepreneur, professionalism is key. Respond to emails in a timely manner, same as you would if they were from your boss the next office over. Respect deadlines. They exist for a reason. And you’ll get bonus points for finishing projects early.

Periodically updating a client about a project’s progress is another great way to distinguish yourself and create lasting relationships with clients.

Likewise, set up a voicemail for your business, so clients get a sense that they are dealing with an established business, even in off-peak hours. Same goes for your email signature.

5. Understand Your Worth

One of the biggest mistakes new business owners make is they undervalue themselves and the services they offer because they want customers so badly. Low prices may increase traffic to your site and social media accounts, and they may even help you snag those first few clients. But raising your prices later could be tricky and even cause you to lose customers.

One of the most important steps you can take as a new business is to hash out your rates. Don’t just base your fee on the amount of time it takes you to complete one assignment. Rather, you need to factor in billing hours, the time it takes you to track down payment (a necessary evil of freelancing), and even workplace necessities, like a great computer, dependable WiFi, and a notepad for list-making. Obviously, these costs can’t be tacked onto one client’s bill, but when spread out over, say, 15 annual clients, it makes more sense.

Sourced from WONGEDSO.COM

By Kate Peers

Facebook has been experiencing a lot of bad press. Some even say that users are gravitating away from Facebook and towards other platforms.

The current statistics disagree with this assessment, however. There are still one billion active users on Facebook, which means that Facebook is still a strong place to find potential customers for your business. If you use Facebook ads efficiently, you can precisely target your audience and effectively spend for a strong return.

In this article, we examine how and when to use Facebook ads for your business.

Can I reach people without ads?

Facebook are using an algorithm which makes it more and more difficult to reach people organically through posting direct to your page. On average your posts will reach 1–3% of your audience without any ad spend. So, while can you interact with customers without ads, spending money on ads will help you reach more people, as well as more relevant people.

Should I boost a post?

Facebook is very clever. If you have ever posted anything on a business page, you’ll be familiar with the constant suggestions to “boost” your post. You may see a message that says something along the lines of, “This post is performing well, boost it now for more people to view it.”

While boosting a post can increase your customer reach, the most efficient way to interact with customers is by creating an ad from scratch.

How do I create an ad?

Before you make a start with Facebook ads, think hard about your objective. What would you like to achieve with your ad? Do you want to drive traffic to your blog? Would you like people to purchase an e-book? Are you hoping to get more page likes on Facebook and increase your followers?

All of these objectives can be achieved with Facebook ads, but make sure you have them clear before you begin, otherwise your spend will be directed towards the wrong outcome.

Target your audience

Take time to consider your dream client. Who is he or she? Do you want to target women in New York, aged between 30–45 with a high disposable income? You can do this.

Facebook has different targeting options divided into general demographics, interests, behaviors and connections. The real power of Facebook ads lies in interest and behavioral targeting. As we now know all too well, Facebook has tons of data on everyone’s interests, page likes and groups joined. If you know your audience, then you can reach them by creating an audience on Facebook.

Create a strong visual

A strong visual image is key to grab your customer’s attention. You only have one shot to make a first impression — you want to be sure that your images are clear, bright, and convey your message appropriately.

You should also be mindful about the fact that Facebook has very strict guidelines for ad creation, which tend to change a lot. You can only have text covering 20% of your image for instance, or your ad won’t deliver. Ensure your image meets these guidelines before you spend unnecessary time and money on an ad that doesn’t work.

Test, trial and respond to each ad

Facebook insights allow you to track how well an ad has performed. Price per click, number of times the ad was seen and adding URL tags to your ads mean that with a combination of Google analytics and Facebook insights you can play around with a small budget.

It is important to test to see what your audience responds to and ensure you are spending your money to achieve good results. If you notice that no one’s clicking on an ad, you may want to pause it. But, if you notice that hundreds of people are responding, you may want to add more spend and reach more people.

Once you get it right, the results will be mind blowing.

Final thoughts

There are few ways to reach your audience that are as direct and effective as Facebook advertising. If you’ve been hesitant to try out Facebook ads, now’s the time to give it a go.

Have you tried ProWritingAid’s editing tool yet? It will help you edit faster, strengthen your writing, and get your ideas across.

Try it for free now!


Originally published at prowritingaid.com.

Feature Image Source: Shutterstock

By Kate Peers

Kate Peers is the writer of the Mad About The Boys blog. A social media and marketing manager, she secretly wants to write a book one day. She is the a contributing author of Walking In The Rain and Washing Up Is Good For You, curated books by Department Store For The Mind. Her work can also be found on Metro online.

Sourced from The Writing Cooperative

By Moss Clement

With over 160 million blogs on the internet today, the need for stunning blog posts has never been more demanding. WHY?

Because every blogger want to stand out as the best, and in order for you to achieve that, you need to create stunning blog content frequently.

Many bloggers have been able to achieve that by creating epic blog posts that stands out from the crowd on a consistent basis, there-by walking tall as experts and influencers in their respective fields.

The blog posts they create has helped them establish a consistent brand message across all channels.

Question is;

How can I create remarkable blog content that will drive tons of traffic to your website?

In this post, you’re going to discover the best strategies that’ll help you to consistently create fascinating blog posts that will drive more traffic to your blog or website.

#• Write useful & informative content

The idea of writing useful blog post is to ensure you that you’re teaching and educating your audience, that’s the primary reason you setup a blog in the first place.

Your audience are always searching for answers or information to help solve their problems. Give them the information they’re seeking – provide them with useful content that will add value to their lives, thereby solve their problems.

That’s why I will always love this quote:

“People don’t care about your business, they care about their problems. Be the solution that they’re looking for.” – Melonie Dodaro

Here’s what Darren Rowse of Problogger also said about writing useful blog post:

“Unless a blog post is useful on some level I don’t think it’s worth publishing.” -Darren Rowse

With that said, try to figure out how useful your content will be to your readership. Thus, before creating content, take time to ponder over such questions as:

  • Will my post be useful to my readers?
  • Are my readers going to find this article valuable?
  • Will my post educate my readers?

These and many other questions are important in helping you write blog posts that are useful and drives tons of traffic.

#• Write in your unique voice

On WordPress alone, more than 79.2 million posts are published each month, which makes it a lot easier for your content to disappear in the noise.

So, it is important that you write in a unique voice, as it will help you stand out from the crowd.

Many Bloggers have successfully maintain consistency across all channels with their respective unique voice or style of writing.

People like Virginia Bautista, Lisa Sicard, Ryan Biddulph, Ravi Chahar, Lorraine Reguly, Cori Ramos, Arfa Nazeer, Janice Wald, Jane Sheeba, Susan Valez, to mention a few.

These experts have successfully set themselves apart from the crowd by their unique way of writing – their unique voice.

How can you write in a unique voice?

To write in your unique voice, simply learn from the examples of pro-bloggers in your niche and write what comes naturally to you.

Choose a niche topic you’re so fun of and have a passion for. This will help you bring out the juices in you.

But please, when choosing a topic you’re passionate about, try as well to keep a balance with choosing a niche you have a passion for and a profitable niche, because you’re going to pay the bills.

#• Be practical

The concept of creating contents that are practical is to help your readers take action, or help them put to practice the information they’re getting from your blog.

Your blog post should be written in ways that your readers and prospective customers can easily apply it to themselves and get positive results.

In this way, your readers will identify you as an expert in your field. So, be sure to create quality and actionable content by being practical in your writing.

Here is a tip to help you; study your readers and find out the issues they’re trying to solve, then offer a solution(s) by creating content around the issues they have.

For example, I read a post on Janice Wald’s blog about “4 Reasons You Are in Danger of Losing Organic Search Traffic.”

I also read the comments. One commenter asked Janice if she could write an article on how to regain your lost traffic. See screenshot.

Image credit: MostlyBlogging

This is a pain problem that must be addressed. Many lose traffic and wouldn’t know why and how to regain their traffic. So, writing in this way will get you more traction and social shares.

#• Create powerful headlines

I’ve written well enough articles about writing catchy headlines for your blog posts.

This is essential because an irresistible headline is a surefire way to attract clicks to your post. It urges your readers and moves them to click and read your content.

A statistics by Copyblogger shows that on average, “80% of blog visitors will read your headline, but only 20% of those will read the rest of your post.”

In other words, it means that while everybody might see your headline, not all of them will actually click to read your post.

Further studies revealed that an irresistible headline can generate as much as 500℅ more pageview.

With that said, spend reasonable time crafting the best headline that will attract readers to your blog.

Find here the best strategies to craft irresistible headlines every time.

You can as well use CoSchedule Headline Analyzer tool to help you craft catchy headlines.

#• Craft compelling intro

Just as a remarkable headline is a surefire way to get readers for your blog content, a compelling intro is equally important because it gives your readers heads-up to continue reading.

That is why I love this quote below:

The first sentence of your book is to convince readers that they have to read the second. – Simonoff Xuan

In other words, let the intro of your blog post convince readers that they have to read the whole content.

I am drawn to any story that makes me want to read from one sentence to the next. I have no other criterion. – Jhumpa Lahiri

This involves clear thinking on your part.

For example, if your headline is a promise-driven or benefit-driven headline, let your intro follow in like manner.

In this way, your readers will want to digest the whole article to get the benefits, which will result in more engagement and massive traffic.

#• Write to a Particular audience

Image credit: Pexels

A remarkable blog content can get the highest traction when tailored to the needs of a particular audience.

For example, let’s assume you already know your target audience – their wants and needs, and as you create your blog post, you channel your content to the needs of this particular audience.

What will happen when you use the right keywords in your content?

You will be driving endless traffic to your website, because your content is tailored to a particular reader and addresses his needs.

So, before creating content, try to find out who your readers are, and pinpoint their needs and problems as well.

Wrapping Up

It is sometimes difficult to write a unique blog post that will stand out from the crowd.

But with practice and consistency, you can work your way up as an expert and create remarkable content on a regular basis.

However, how you will achieve this kind of success over time may be slightly different because every blogger has his own unique style of writing.

But if you correctly apply these basic blogging principles, you will be able to consistently create compelling blog posts that will drive massive traffic to your website.

This article originally appeared on https://www.mossmedia.biz

Feature Image credit: Pexels

About The author

Moss Clement is a blogger and freelance writer. He delivers high-quality, evergreen content to clients and businesses via blog post writing, article writing, ghostwriting and other writing services, etc.

Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and Facebook.

By Moss Clement

Sourced from The Writing Cooperative