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Corrections: How to Handle Them

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Everyone makes mistakes. Whether you do one post per week or 50, something is going to go wrong and it is important to be prepared for those mistakes before they happen.

They key to respect and trust while blogging is not to never make a mistake (though keeping them to a minimum is important), but rather, to handle the ones you do make gracefully while learning from them.

So how should a blogger handle their mistakes? There are many different rules and suggestions, but there are a few generally well-accepted practices that seem to work in most cases.

Spelling, Grammar and Minor Changes

If you make a mistake that is not a matter of fact, such as spelling, grammar or punctuation, you can usually just push a corrected version live and not make any note of it. Though some sites and forums have a custom regarding noting that a post was “edited for grammar”, the specific error usually isn’t cited and this is only common when posts automatically display an “edited by” time stamp.

For the most part, if you find a grammar and/or spelling error that does not change the meaning of a post, you should feel free to edit it and move on. Mistakes happen but it is better to fix the mistake, when practical, than leave it.

Minor Factual Errors

Errors of fact are the most difficult to deal with. Some bloggers have the instinct to quickly rush in and fix the mistake, others want to delete the post and still others want to just create a new one. Unfortunately, none of those responses work out great in the end.

Fixing the mistake with no mention does not allow those who come later to understand that there has been a correction, deleting the post does nothing to fix the error and creating a new post, though a good solution for RSS subscribers, does nothing to help those who stumble upon the first post from Google or via an external link.

If the error is relatively minor and doesn’t change the overall post, such as getting a person’s name or a specific fact wrong, WordPress offers a simple solution to the problem, namely the strikethrough button. If you use the HTML editor, you’ll notice a “del” button at the top and those who prefer the visual editor will see what looks like the “ABC” but with a line through it. What it does is strikes through the text you want to remove and, in the HTML code, adds a time stamp for when the change was made.

For example: I am striking through this text and, if you view the source, you’ll see that it adds a “datetime=”2009-05-19T19:31:01+00:00″” to the tag, indicating when I pressed the button.

Then, in the post itself, you can add the correct information after the strikethrough, either as a parenthetical or as new text.

This lets readers of the post know that there was an error, what it was, and what the change is. This keeps transparency to the maximum and, since strikethrough text is very visible, it actually draws people to the error, unlike a correction in a footnote.

Major Factual Errors

If the entire crux of your article has been compromised, more drastic action may be necessary. For example, if you wrote a post about an upcoming game being released next week and, it turns out, that the game won’t be released for another year, a simple strikethrough will probably not be enough.

Though these errors should be fairly rare, especially for blogs that attempt to follow up and do their homework, they can still happen. Fixing them, however, is no simple task.

It is important, first and foremost, to make sure that readers who stumble across the existing post know that the story is an error. Posting a header saying that the story is “Updated” with the new information at the top of the story is a good beginning. If needed, you can provide additional information in an update section at the end of the post, similar to what others do when a breaking story is unfolding, but it is important to ensure that every reader of the post sees the new information first.

However, given the nature of RSS and that many readers may not have read the full story but did skim the headline, it may be wise to go ahead and post a new entry on the topic, one you can reference prominently in the original post. If the post in error is short, you can consider doing a massive strikethrough and adding new text at the bottom. However, removing the erroneous information, without at least explaining what it was, gives the appearance of trying to “hide” the error. Given the fact that Google Cache and the Web Archive both likely have old copies of the page, it may not do much good anyway.

Being upfront about the error and doing everything you can to clarify it is, quite literally, the best thing you can do for your reputation and for yourself legally.

Acknowledging Errors

If you’re lucky, you will spot the error yourself and can handle it appropriately. However, odds are that most errors will be pointed out to you by readers, either via comments or emails. Should that happen, it is important to acknowledge and thank the reader for their help, ideally in the comments and in the post itself if appropriate.

Remember, you want to encourage people to notify you of corrections and inform you when you make mistakes. For every person that lets you know of an error, it is probable that a dozen saw it and said nothing. Readers who report mistakes are not your enemies, they’re people trying to help you and should be treated as such.

Legal Issues

There are many blogs and Web sites that seem to let mistakes languish even after they learn that they aren’t true. In addition to harming their reputation (this is a common practice of gossip sites), it also carries with it legal risks.

Defamation law, in this case libel, makes it very dangerous to knowingly publish false information that may harm the reputation of another. Though defamation suits over Web postings are still fairly rare, they are becoming increasingly common and the damages awarded have been very high.

Though a good correction policy may not remedy all of the legal issues of publishing false information in the first place, it makes a lawsuit much less likely and mitigates against any damages that could be awarded.

Bottom Line

Though it is best to be accurate with everything you publish but it is equally important to be ready in the event of a mistake to handle it swiftly, accurately and with transparency. Giving your readers the appearance that you are hiding your mistakes or simply doing nothing about them may not only hurt your reputation among your readers, but also may hurt your chances in the courtroom.

Since we’re all human, it is best to start planning for our mistakes before they happen even as we work to ensure that we don’t make them in the first place. Though no one wants to go through the humiliation of having to publicly admit they were wrong, it’s a part of life on the Web and a part of being a responsible person both online and off.

The good news is that very few mistakes are lethal. Most people get up the next morning and resume blogging none the worse for the wear. The only way most mistakes can become disastrous is through poor handling of them.

If you plan smart, keep your mistakes to a minimum and are open about the errors you do make, most people will forgive you for being human.

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3 Rewarding Benefits for Bloggers to Consider Joining An Honor Society

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Over approximately one million students are members of the National Honor Society (NHS). Many of which are likely bloggers, freelance writers, and/or have a passion for writing or pursuing their own path in life.

High school students with outstanding achievements are joining the organization every year. But you may not be familiar with the NHS and what it does, and also how it can benefit you as either a blogger, affiliate marketer, or an entrepreneur.

You may be asking, “should I join an honor society?” Is it really that important? Before you become an honor student yourself, you should weigh the benefits.

Here’s your guide to the benefits of the National Honor Society.

Should I Join an Honor Society?

In order to join the NHS, you’ll need to know what they do.

Established in 1921, the foundation recognizes students who have achieved excellence in several different ways. These include areas of service, leadership, character, and of course, scholarship.

Members need to meet certain criteria to join. Students who want to join should have at least a 3.0 on the GPA scale. They should also show great leadership and a commitment to volunteer work.

If you think you may be eligible, here are three rewarding reasons why you should join the NHS.

1. Making a Difference

One of the great aspects of the NHS is the opportunity to make a difference. Given the foundation’s emphasis on helping others, each student must meet a service hour requirement.

As a member, you’ll be a part of service projects whether individually or as a team.

This is not only an amazing way to get involved in your community but a way to meet new people. Volunteering opens up so many doors, personal and otherwise. It helps you find yourself and connect with people in the process.

The service you complete may also open other doors and interests for you along the way.

2. Building Your Resume

Every college and university knows what an NHS membership suggests about a student. This makes it a wonderful addition to your resume or college application. It makes you competitive and helps you stand out in a sea of students.

An NHS experience shows that you’re an outstanding citizen who’s engaged with the world. It shows that you have great academic standing and the potential to be a future leader. However, academics aren’t everything, and if you can compile all of your achievements and goals into an online resume website, you may win over some new audiences and personal opportunities as well.

Joining the NHS will help you turn your goals for the future into a reality and set your professional life into motion.

3. Developing Skills

To become an NHS student, you need to exhibit certain traits and character. But your experience as a member will also help you further develop your skills. The NHS is an excellent avenue for becoming even more well-rounded and capable.

The NHS helps students flex their skills as a leader and a part of a team. The volunteering component will help you develop great time management skills. It can also motivate you to maintain your good grades.

You’ll also learn a lot about networking and professionalism during the process. This will be indelibly valuable in the future.

Learn More

The answer to “should I join an honor society?” is a resounding yes. There are no downsides to becoming an honor student and so much to gain from the experience, and if you are thinking about launching a website or blog of your own, the experience and skills you will gain from such an environment and community will only help.

Not only does being in the NHS prepare you for what’s to come, but it’s also a nice way to celebrate what you’ve already worked so hard to accomplish.

To learn more about school and lifestyle tips, be sure to visit our blog.

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Blogging

The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Your Very First Blog Post

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The Dos and Donts of Writing Your Very First Blog Post

The Dos and Donts of Writing Your Very First Blog Post

Your very first blog post is a very big deal.

For businesses, it’s their way of attracting more clients by creating content that resonates with your target audience.

For hobbyists, it’s their chance to of sharing to the world your thoughts and ideas about their topics of choice.

Either way, nothing validates your online identity more than a well-written blog post.

Therefore, you need to make the most of this opportunity by writing the best possible blog post. Assuming that you don’t have much experience in writing, you can always keep things simple by following the basic do’s and don’ts of writing a blog post for the very first time.

Do: Come up with a topic that your audience would like

The success of bloggers stems from the ability to determine what their audience wants to read. To reach their primary goals, bloggers must appeal to the need of their target readers for useful and relevant information. Doing so allows them to attract lots of visitors with the content they publish, resulting in increased conversion rates.

Therefore, you need to approach blogging deliberately. You can’t just pull a topic out of thin air and expect your audience to come in droves. You must find out what makes your readers ticks and what their wants and needs are.

That means research, research, and more research!

First, you need to come up with a reader persona that you will target for your post and the succeeding ones. The persona you will develop will embody your demographic such as age, gender, hobbies, and others. Researching these factors will help you refine how you will write your post and what you will write about. From here, unearthing blog post ideas to write about will become much more convenient for you.

Don’t: Veer away from your branding and persona

Your brand is what defines you online. Your audience will associate all your online activity with the brand you’ve developed. Part of your brand is the persona you project from the blog posts you will write.

The best blogs exhibit unique voices that set them apart from the rest. The Onion is popular for its tongue-in-cheek humor veiled in satire. Lifehacker is famous for producing informative blog content geared towards readers who want to find ways to simplify their lives.

The brand and persona these sites exude help bloggers develop consistency in their writing. By observing their persona on all the posts they write at all times, they allow readers to create a level of expectation every time you publish a post. By meeting their expectations with every post you write, you can develop a sustainable stream of blog traffic over a period.

Therefore, it is crucial that you develop a writing voice that resonates with your readers and then sticking with it. You need to play your brand and persona across all your blog posts, starting with the very first post you’ll be writing.

Do: Edit before publishing

Before hitting the “Publish” button, you need to make sure that there are no grammar mistakes and errors in your writing. Your command of the language is crucial if you want to send the right message to your readers.

A post that’s filled with errors will cause readers to leave your blog and possibly not read another post from you. If you can’t write correctly, then why should your audience read your posts?

Double-checking your post and reading it again can do wonders for your edits. It’s best to take time between finishing the post and reading it for review. The time allows you to get your mind off from writing so you will have a fresh perspective on the post, which lets you spot errors easier.

If you’re not comfortable with your editing skills, then you could use tools like Grammarly and Hemingway Editor. Both will make recommendations on how to tighten your sentences and improve your blog post. Keep in mind, however, that these tools are meant to complement your editing process and not replace it entirely.

Don’t: Worry about word count

If you’re counting words when writing your post, then you’re blogging for the wrong reasons.

When writing, your focus should be communicating ideas as clearly as possible.

For SEO reasons, you want your post to be as long as possible. According to the latest studies, your post should be at least 1,890 words if you want to rank on top of Google Search.

However, if you can’t reach that many numbers of words, you don’t have to beat yourself up about it. Having lots of words doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a great post.

What’s more important is that you can share everything that your readers need to know about the topic. By focusing on the quality of the post and not the number of words, you can engage your audience and keep them longing for more.

Do: Promote your post

Promoting your post is not part of the writing process. However, part of your job as a full-fledged blogger is to be a marketer as well.

Sharing your first blog post is your step towards reaching out to your online audience. After all, your post won’t promote itself. You need to proactive share your blog post to the right channels, so you show it to as many people interested in your topic as possible.

One of the best ways to promote your post online is to hop on Facebook and Twitter.

“If you have created high-quality content on your blog then social media is a great way to your blog to go viral.” said Scott Chow of The Blog Starter.

You can also submit your post on platforms that allow you to reach out to your audience more effectively. I have detailed the best sites where you can send your post for promotion in this article.

Don’t: Set unrealistic goals

Starting at the bottom and working your way up to where thousands of blogs are also vying for the attention of your readers will be a tumultuous journey. Therefore, you have to curb your expectations as a blogger. It is ideal to set the bar with attainable goals in mind instead of aiming for the moon.

Don’t get me wrong – reaching thousands of visitors for your blog post in a day is not impossible. However, like catching lightning in a jar, it’s more improbable than anything else. In fact, this problem is what plagues most bloggers. They set high goals that are difficult to achieve. As a result, they get discouraged once they realize that they can’t fulfill them and stop blogging altogether.

Therefore, it’s always better to follow a tried-and-true template that you can sustain for a long period. You don’t want to be one of those flash-in-the-pan bloggers who fizzle out as fast as they started.

Did I miss any other tips for first-time bloggers in preparation for their very first post? Chime in with your advice by commenting below!

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Writing

4 Tips for Effectively Training New Hires and Freelance Writers

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You’ve been interviewing prospective job candidates for weeks. Whether this has been for adding talent to your existing company, or if you’ve been looking for some qualified blog writers, the process is quite overwhelming, yet one that needs to take place. You’ve narrowed down the field, compared resumes and extended an offer. Soon, you’ll have a bright-eyed new employee walking through your door, eager to get started. Are you prepared for the onboarding process?

Handing each new employee, a packet to read at their desk doesn’t cut it these days. In order to help new hires hit the ground running with their duties and acclimate to your work environment, you’ll need to utilize more dynamic methods for effectively training new hires. Here are four tips to help you get started.

Prioritize Need-to-Know Material

Training includes a veritable avalanche of information—like a general company overview, employer-specific policies, human resources information and specific job duties. It’s your job to equip your team members with everything they need to thrive. So, where do you start? This is also usually simple enough when looking to hire freelance writers or new blog team members, as there are many online job boards that allow you to fill in the needs and requirements you are looking for, while also having the ability to weed out any leads that don’t fit.

Create an outline that breaks down different training sessions into manageable chunks. This way, you’ll provide some foresight to the new hires and keep them from getting overwhelmed. For example, on their first day, you could start with job-specific information: frequently used programs and files, chain of command within their team and department and the location of hotspots like bathrooms, break rooms, conference rooms, HR, etc. The next day, the new hire can easily see that they’ll be learning about a broad company and departmental overview, project management and communication best practices within the office. After that, they’ll tackle short- and long-term goals and KPIs that show they’re doing well in their new job.

Take it one day at a time, based on order of importance.

Make It Interactive and Engaging

Passive presentations make it all too easy for new hires to forget material almost as soon as they learn it. Remember, they’re encountering new information left and right. To make it stick, you’ll have to make it extra engaging. Delivering an interactive presentation with crowdsourcing tools like Poll Everywhere will wake them up, collect their honest thoughts and make them feel like part of the team right off the bat. Instead of listening to a one-way stream of information, new hires can grab their mobile devices and get involved.

Create a Longer-Term Plan

Whew, you survived the first day of training. Your newest batch of hires are basically onboard, right? Not so fast. You need a long-term plan to ensure a smooth process over time. One HR manager uses an onboarding checklist complete with agendas for the first week and first month—including future training sessions, group lunches and manager check-ins. This way, the employee knows that they’re not suddenly on their own after the first round of introductions; they have resources, a plan and scheduled times to ask questions and provide feedback.

Assign a Concrete Task

Training often feels theoretical for new hires; they’re left wondering “but how does this connect to my job?” One way to drive the points made in training home is to assign a relevant task after a learning session. It should relate to their daily duties and allow them to learn (and make mistakes) as they go. They will be able to put the principles they learned in general training into actual use on an actual assignment! At the end, a manager can go over the results with them in a helpful way, pointing out things they did well and how they can improve in the future.

These four tips for effectively training new hires should help you with the onboarding process, but be sure to experiment and come up with a system that works for your company. After all, onboarding is the first impression new employees get and it factors heavily into company culture. If you want to build a success blog, brand or business on the internet today, you need to make sure you are building a quality and talented team around you.

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