Suffering from impotence, a man visits serveral doctors asking for help. All to no avail. Finally, out of desperation, he visits a witch-doctor. The witch-doctor gives him a potion that can only be used once a year and tells him to take it before he is ready to be intimate. Then, when the time is right he should say “1, 2, 3” and his impotence will be cured for as long as he likes.
The man asks, “How do I make the potion stop working?”
“Oh, that’s easy,” the doctor replies, “You just say, “1, 2, 3, 4.”
That evening before he enters the house, the man drinks the potion. He surprises his wife by immediately leading her to the bedroom. Things are going well and the man whispers, “1, 2, 3.”
His wife gives him a funny look and asks, “What’d you say 1, 2, 3 for?”
And that is why you never end a sentence with a preposition!
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Oh grammar, why must you be so funny? Okay, so it isn’t really funny or fun, but it is important. As promised, I will do my very best to make a very droll subject interesting. Grammar is one of those things that, when not done correctly, can make you look really stupid really fast. The careless use of “I could care less” can cause someone to start ignoring you faster than you can say “irregardless.”
The most important thing to remember – before you scroll past this post – is that all of the rules I’m sharing with you today apply to you. Even if you are not a blogger, following these basic rules will make you sound smarter regardless of your audience. Correct grammar is key if you want to be taken seriously in any venue. Breaking the rules can be fun and all, but you have to know them first.
Since the World Series is just a couple of weeks away, I decided the magic number for this post would be nine. So here are nine grammar rules that are often broken.
The best way to figure out if you should be using who or whom in a sentence is to reword it. You can use the pronoun to determine the correct word. Here is an example:
Who/Whom is the best blogger ever?
He/Him is the best blogger ever.
Recite the second sentence (either aloud or in your head – whichever makes you feel less nerdy (Let’s face it, as bloggers our nerd quotients are probably high enough already) and decide which pronoun is correct. Are you done? Did you say “He” is the correct answer? Good. You’re right. And since we’d use “He” we know that the correct possessive is “Who.” You can use this replacement trick without fail and you’ll never misuse who/whom again.
Do you know this one? If you do that’s great, but you might be surprised how many people get this wrong. Let’s say I wanted to tell my coworker (via email, of course) that her hat really goes well with her shirt. I would write:
“Your hat really complements your shirt.”
If I wrote that her hat “compliments” her shirt then I would be saying that her hat paid her shirt a compliment, not that it was a good pairing. I have a mnemonic device that I use for this: “I complIment you. My E-ring complements my necklace.” Yup, it’s lame, but it works.
People are constantly messing this one up. The grammatically correct way to use “however” is at the beginning of a sentence, followed by a comma. Need a mnemonic? “However has a cap and a comma.” “Cap” being the capital letter at the start of the sentence. Repeat this a few times a day for a week or so and it will be forever stuck in your brain, I promise.
4. Split Infinitives
You’ve heard this term, but do you know what it means? It is actually very simple: an infinitive is simply a verb with the word “to” preceding it: to run, to write, to dance. The key is to keep the “to” and the verb together and not separate them by other words. The most likely offenders in a split infinitive are adverbs: to quickly run, to calmly write, to slowly dance. The correct way is to keep the infinitive together and follow it with the adverb: to run quickly, to write calmly, to dance slowly.
5. Lie, Lay, Lain, Laid, Lying
For such short little words, “lie” and “lay” can really cause big problems. You lie down on a bed. You lay a CD on the passenger seat. In an example from her book Painless Grammar, Rebecca Elliott, offers up this handy example:
“Today I lie in bed.
Yesterday I lay in bed.
Many times I have lain in bed.
Yesterday I was lying in bed all day.”
“Today I lay the book on the counter.
Yesterday I laid the book on the counter.
Many times I have laid the book on the counter.
Yesterday I was laying the book on the counter when Mom came home.”
The rule (and the joke) says that you should never end a sentence with a preposition. However, this is one of those rules that can be broken in some instances. The problem is, when you rearrange a sentence to make sure it doesn’t end with a preposition, it often comes out awkward. Let’s say I write, “This is the class for which I registered.” Grammatically, that is totally correct. Too bad it sounds weird and stuffy, especially if I am writing dialogue. So I write: “This is the class I registered for.” Half the English language snobs gasp and the other half shrug, realizing that sometimes you just gotta go with what sounds right.
7.1. When to Use Commas
At times, I tend to go a bit comma crazy. Some people suffer from the exact opposite disorder, making their way through entire paragraphs without a comma to be found. Having a handy list of instances for using commas helps me curb my obsession:
- Before a coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, or, so, yet) that introduces an independ clause (a clause that can stand alone as a complete sentence)
- After conjunctive adverbs (however, finally, furthermore, indeed, meanwhile, nevertheless, therefore, unfortunately)
- After most introductory phrases and clauses (the part of a sentence preceding the subject and verb is usually an introductory phrase)
- To emphasize an adverb
- When adjectives come after the noun
- In lists
- With cities and states, addresses and dates
- In numbers > 999
- With direct quotations
(I typed, quickly, to meet my deadline)
Are you asleep yet? Perhaps it’s time for a seventh inning stretch. Here’s another grammar joke: How is a cat like a comma? I will get back to that at the end of the article. For now, let’s move on to the last two and a half rules.
7.2. Commas Continued…
Here are some more occassions to use commas:
- When speaking directly to someone
- Before and/or after an interjection, a parenthetical expression or a title after a person’s name
- Between consecutive adjectives (This morning was a rainy start to a soggy, gray, cloudy, dark day.)
- Before and/or after some Latin abbreviations (I love blogging, writing, reading, etc.)
- After greetings and before closings – in friendly letters
- Before and after appositives (Our supervisor, John Doe, is a poor manager.)
- To indicate omitted words (“Saturday I went out for lunch; Sunday, dinner.”)
8. Always Use Complete Sentences?
This is a fun rule to break. So fun! Before I tell you when it is okay to break it, I will first define it. A complete sentence has a subject and a verb: “I write.” Easy enough. Generally, it is a good idea to follow this rule. Some fragments for style can be acceptable, but this can easily get too “cute” and your readers will get annoyed. Here are three instances where you can use fragments:
- When used for emphasis: “I thought my grades would be great, but when I got my report card I had Fs. Three Fs!”
- When used for informal dialogue: “Gonna see a movie?” “Sure.” “At ten?” “Nah. Too late. Seven?” “Okay.”
- When used for exclamations and interjections: “Wow!” “Ouch!” “Hell, Yeah!”
9. Cut the Crap
When we are speaking, an extra “a” or “of” here and there does not make a conversation awkward. However, when you are writing, be sure you take the time to cut out extra words. You want to use the words you need and ditch the rest. A good example of this is when someone writes: “He sat down on the chair.” When you sit, you are nearly always sitting down. It is safe to cut that word. “He sat on the chair.” Always use the least amount of words you can get away with. As a blogger, you are generally not writing to word count or page inches. This gives you the freedom to be as brief as you want to be. You might find reading aloud to be useful in helping you weed out the extras.
With that, I will leave you to your own devices. But before I go, I know you’re dying to know the punchline to the cat joke, so here it is: A cat has claws at the end of its paws and a comma is a pause at the end of a clause. That is without a doubt the nerdiest joke I have ever heard – and I work in IT!
I am a strong advocate for breaking rules in most situations. However, as far as grammar goes, the best plan is to buy a grammar guide so you are prepared. Then, when you’re in doubt, look it up. The thirty seconds you spend checking for accuracy could save you many readers and much respect.
eCommerce: 3 Simple Ways to Increase Traffic, Sales and Revenue
For most people blogging is used as a fun and easy way to share their lifestyle or write about their passion. But for some this hobby had become their profession.
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Nowadays there are many options to make money with a blog – for example by getting paid for advertising products. Another way is to add your own eCommerce to the blog and sell the products that you are passionate about in your own web store. Creating an online shop can be the first step into your life as a digital nomad or simply being your own boss.
A few years ago, it was necessary to work with a professional developer to integrate an online store to your website. Especially for small manufacturers, this meant a huge investment before they could even start selling their products. Nowadays setting up a web store has become a lot easier and cheaper: Platforms like Shopify can easily be integrated in existing domains and therefore help makers and crafters to start their own eCommerce without professional help. Once you have set up your own Shopify store it is all about increasing the traffic. A bigger reach will eventually lead to a higher number of sales and more revenue.
So, let’s have a look at three simple steps to do so:
1 – Turn your small business into a smart business…
…by adding automation and product management to your website. When launching your business, it might be fine to keep track of the orders in an Excel spreadsheet at first. But since you expect your business to grow it will become one of the most important things to have a management platform in place that allows you to process orders and handle inventory professionally. Therefore, it can be handy to add a production planning and scheduling software as integration to your existing web store. An easy-to-use solution for Shopify-users is the Shopify inventory integration that adds products to your website, manages inventory or tracks shipments.
2 – Make your products sound and look good…
…by adding high-quality images and longer product descriptions to your page. Not only will this make your eCommerce look more professional, but it is also a great way to increase your traffic by reaching a higher rank in the search results. If you are not able to create these yourself, you can outsource writing or graphic design work to freelancers on sites like Fiverr or Upwork.
3 – Don’t stop blogging…
…or get it started if you haven’t done so yet. While it is exciting to start your own business it also takes a lot of time and energy to set everything up. Anyhow, this should not lead to giving up on your blog. Why? Because a growing eCommerce site and an active blog go hand in hand. And remember: The content of your blog should be interesting to your targeted audience and contain at least one thousand words in order to effectively rank in the search results. Here are some examples of the top eCommerce blogs for inspiration.
…and that is it!
You are now almost ready to start your own eCommerce! In addition to following these three steps, it is always good to keep an eye on your ecommerce competitors. Do not steal their idea but have a look at what is working for them and aim to go beyond that. As long as you focus on your product, the content of your site and a growing search ranking you will successfully manage to increase your traffic, the sales and the revenue of your business.
Should You Answer that Blogging Question Again?
“Ryan, how do I increase blog traffic?”
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“Ryan, how do I make money blogging?”
If I had a dime for every blogger who asked me each question I’d have quite a few dimes. Toss in all the times I observe bloggers asking each question via Quora and various Facebook Groups and you have as many dimes as grains of sand in the Sahara Desert.
I know what you are thinking; should you answer the same question for the 2nd time, 10th time or 100th time? Confusing. One part of you wishes to be generous. Another part of you fears missing an opportunity to help someone who can be a potential client or customer. Another part of you feels annoyed at being asked the question again. Another part of you feels annoyed at embracing and releasing the guilt of ignoring the question.
Should you answer these common blogging questions again and again?
Of course not.
Answering the same, common question more than 1 or 2 times is:
- an inefficient use of your time
- amateur hour stuff
Here’s what I do to:
- answer questions quickly and easily
- open myself up to more potential blogging business through possible clients and customers
- be calm, cool, collected and at peace despite being asked the same question many times
Are you ready?
Write a blog post!
Or write and self-publish an eBook.
If someone asks me how to drive more traffic to my blog I send them this link:
Or I send ’em a link from any one of my myriad blog traffic driving posts on Blogging From Paradise.
If someone asks about specific income streams for making money through their blogs I send them a link to my eBook:
Or if someone asks how to make money through guest posting I send them this link from my guest post on the blog of the awesome Enstine Muki:
What an easy, simple, efficient, effective way to:
- answer a common question many times
- answer a common question in 1-2 seconds
- drive traffic to my blog
- increase my blogging profits
- help people, and be helped by people through their prospering of me
- avoid anger
- avoid annoyance
- avoid judging people who have no idea how to blog
Fools complain about new bloggers asking the same, old questions. Why does a new blogger ask a question? They have no idea how to blog! Duh. Why anger at their ignorance? Why get annoyed that you need to answer the question again? Write a blog post answering the question. Send the blog post to anybody who asks the question. Seize opportunities to help people and to drive traffic and profits to your blog.
Do you own Gmail? I do not. Since I do not own Gmail it’d be foolish for me to answer questions via Gmail when I can be answering the same question on my self-hosted blog. I own Blogging From Paradise. I own that online real estate. Answer questions on your owned cyber real estate. Brand you. Grow your business. Increase your traffic. Keep the ball in your court. Have posture.
If I spend 10 minutes answering a question for 1 human I am a fool when I could spend 45 minutes answering the question for 100, or 10,000 or 1,000,000 humans, by writing a helpful blog post answering the question and sending the blog post link to all future folks who ask the question. Plus; when the post goes live, I answer common questions passively, said common questions no doubt in the minds of thousands of bloggers out there.
Leverage. Write a blog post. Do not help one person. Help 10,000 people. Save your time and energy. Make more money.
Matthew Loomis at Build Your Own Blog is a smart guy. Peep his home page. He lays out clear, concise steps for building your blog via his sidebar. You just know how many people asked him the common, pressing, basic blogging questions that he skillfully answered through those clear steps.
He leveraged his knowledge. He answered common questions BEFORE people asked him common blogging questions. Smart! Help a ton of folks quickly and easily. Drive blog traffic. Increase blogging profits. Lower your bounce rate. Improve the amount of time people spend on your blog.
Write a blog post. Send the blog post link to anybody who asks the common blogging question.
Why Cold Pitching and Bartering Do Not Work in Blogging
2 words: nobody cares.
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I just checked my email. One stranger who came in cold – as strangers always do – emailed me a reply:
“Is that your lowest price?”
I deleted his email. On a day when feeling less compassionate, I junk the email. Label it as spam. Why?
I genuinely care about someone who genuinely cares about me. I do not care much about a stranger who tries to barter with me when he ignored the email where I told him my final, fixed, non-negotiable price. Thousands of strangers have tried this approach. Thousands of strangers get ignored.
That was one of the bartering emails.
I received a handful of cold pitch emails. Bloggers emailed me as strangers, asking to guest post on my site. 90% did not even bother to address me by name.
2 words: nobody cares. Meaning, I do not care about them. I delete. I ignore. I move on.
I checked my spam folder to delete the emails. I scanned. 3 more pitch emails popped up in spam. The bloggers pitching through these emails pissed off enough bloggers to ensure; all future emails of theirs land in spam. Try building a blogging business from the spam folder. I dare you.
Genuinely, nobody cares.
Imagine someone knocking on the door of your home right now. Go ahead. Visualize this scenario.
This person wants to sell you a vacuum cleaner. You shut the door in their face unless you are 1 of 1,000,000 people who would actually buy a vacuum from a stranger at your door. The remaining 999,999 human beings either buy one on Amazon or via their local department store.
Save the 1 person, nobody cares about a stranger who blindly pitches their sales services or who blindly pitches an opportunity at the door of their home. Just like nobody cares about a stranger who blindly pitches them a guest posting opportunity.
How to Get People to Care
If you want people to care enough to buy your blogging course or to feature you on their blogs, care about them.
If you want to land on Blogging From Paradise just do these things:
- spend 3-6 months promoting me on your blog
- spend 3-6 months promoting me on social media
- publish 2-3 posts weekly
- practice writing daily; offline
I begin to care about people who care about me generously and genuinely.
You stand out from the thousands of strangers who I do not care about when you care about me. It is such an easy tactic to build bonds with leading bloggers. Simple, too. Care about me as a human being. Ask for nothing. Expect nothing. Pay your blogging dues. Be generous. Be genuine. Be patient. Be persistent. Guaranteed; you will stand out from the crowd eventually. You have to, because generosity is always repaid in some way, shape or form down the road.
My generous, skilled friends get links on Blogging From Paradise for free.
Strangers need to pay my rate. If a stranger tries to barter my rate after I noted my fixed, non-negotiable, price, I delete the email. I may spam the email. People who do not have enough respect for me to read the entire email belong in spam. Landing in spam is the blogging business kiss of death; you will fail blogging for 1,000 years if your emails wind up in spam. The Blogging Scarlet Letter is S, for Spam.
Just freaking care about bloggers. How hard is that? Stop focusing on yourself and your needs and what you want to GET out of me and do some GIVING. Fool proof, simple, powerful way to build a successful blog. Plus you will have the money to invest in sponsored posts so you need not try to barter like a cheapie. Plus you will receive more and more free links on top blogs.
Doesn’t that sound fun?
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