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My Favorite Writing Assignments

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Kevin’s recent post about how long a blog post should be reminded me of a pair of writing assignments I was handed when I was in school, both of which changed my perspective on writing forever.

You see, when I was in high school and college, I spent a great deal of time studying journalism and creative writing, my two great passions. I was hoping at the time to get a job for a major newspaper working in their Web division, helping grow and promote online journalism.

It didn’t exactly pan out that way, I came out of college just in time to find the news industry already in steep decline, perhaps already past the turning point. Still, my education taught me a great deal, but on the point of post or story length, there were two lessons, both of which were equally valuable in teaching me about writing and how people read.

The First Assignment

In high school it was common for the teacher to assign mock news articles to the class. The rules were straight forward write a news story on a certain topic and it had to be a certain length, usually 1,000 words. We could pull quotes from other newspapers and sources, but they had to be accurate and up to journalistic standards.

Then one day the teacher told us to take our 1,000 word story and quickly turn it into a 500 word one. Worst of all, we only had 20 minutes to do it in.

But while it sounds stressful it was actually fairly easy. Twenty minutes was plenty of time to get through the story several times over and editing it down was more a matter of removing a few nice, but unnecessary, details and tightening up existing writing. At the end of the time frame, most of us had stories that were less detailed, but still largely the same as the ones we walked in with.

In short, I learned you could take out half the worlds of most stories and remove only a fraction of the information, including almost none of the important details.

I received a similar assignment in a creative writing class two years later. However, this time the process we were working with short stories. We were asked to remove 25% of the words without touching the plot. Once again, it was more than possible and, in general, it made the stories quicker-paced and tighter, while sometimes sacrificing some of the warmth and detail.

From these assignments, I learned that cutting words does not mean cutting a story. If you can tell something in 500 words, there is little reason to use 1,000. However, as I later learned was not always the case.

The Second Assignment

Later on, I switched majors. I wanted to study graphic/Web design and was convinced to change my major to advertising. However, when it came to copywriting, I had walked into a whole new world.

In journalism, brevity is valued highly. Getting information across quickly and accurately is the most important thing. However, in advertising long copy is often more heavily prized. In fact, David Ogilvy, one of advertising’s most respected figures, favored long copy strongly in his ads, even writing ads with more than 10,000 words and still receiving a strong response.

The mentality in the advertising world is that if you have a lot to say, you should say it, if you don’t have much to offer, you shouldn’t feel bad about being brief. Selling candy is different from selling power tools, which in turn is different from selling cars.

It was in that spirit we were asked to design a series of ads, starting with roughly a quarter of a page in a magazine and ranging to a full newspaper page, all using the same visuals. But even if we increased the size of the images we used, which was allowed, we still had to be flexible with the body copy, adding and subtracting from it to fit the different sizes.

Quickly it became obvious that, for this particular product, the ads with less copy were not merely more concise, but were worse ads. We had a lot to say and forcing us to be shorter with our words made us harder-sounding and less friendly.

The journalism style of “get in and get out” didn’t work in advertising. As a result, neither I nor the others I was working with were ever happy with my shorter advertisements and neither was the professor.

Bottom Line

So to get back to Kevin’s question of how long a post should be, I agree with his conclusion, that there is no rule.

I would say that you should take all of the time you need but no longer. In the end, it is more important that you write compelling copy than keep it under X number of words. Ten thousand words can feel like a hundred if your writing is good. On the other hand, 500 words can feel like torture if it isn’t.

Your topic and your writing should determine your length, not some arbitrary rule. If you write well and on topics that interest people, they will read it, no matter how long your posts are. If you write poorly and on topics with no interest, no one will bother, no matter how short you keep it.

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Blogging

Stop Complaining and Turn it into a Blog Post

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I spent the prior 10 seconds scrolling through my Instagram comments.

After reading a “This looks good” comment in response to a grainy video – obvious spam, intended for an eye-popping image – I chose to create a video and write this post. 2 pieces of blog content. Versus minutes of silly complaining.

Being human, I may feel slightly annoyed after reading my 5th spam comment in a row, this morning. But after a quick vent, I create helpful content, to teach bloggers what not to do, in order to succeed online.

Check out this eBook:

How to Turn Harsh Blogging Criticism into Sweet Blogging Profits: 11 Tips

I wrote the eBook to address a pressing problem among bloggers. We all have a right to vent for a bit but sustained complaining:

  • wastes your creative energies
  • sullies your brand image
  • damages your online reputation

I wrote the eBook to help you turn your complaints, sometimes in the form of rough blogging criticism, into blogging profits. Converting a complaint into content is 1 easy way to prosper in such fashion.

Benefits

Help yourself. Help your readers.

Watch this short Instagram video:

Be Genuine on Instagram

I gained a few quick views on Instagram. Benefits me. I promoted my eBook at the end of the video, offering myself eBook exposure. I help my readers by showing them what works on Instagram; being genuine, being honest and being authentic. I also explain what not to do, to help folks avoid wasting their time with spammy, low quality, non genuine comments.

I turned a potential complaint into a creation. I converted a low energy situation into a high energy situation. I likely gained blog traffic and maybe boost my blogging profits, too.

I also align with grateful, high energy bloggers like Sue-Ann Bubacz Mapping Megan and Mike Allton by raising my energy. Complaining routinely moves you lower in blogging circles. Being grateful, creative and helpful moves you higher in blogging circles.

Practical Tips

The next time you feel an urge to complain about something, turn the complaint into a creation.

  • write a blog post
  • write a guest post
  • record a podcast
  • record a video
  • broadcast live on Facebook
  • write a bite-sized eBook

Your readers will thank you. Plus, you will thank yourself.

We know complaints can sprout from all corners of the web. Here are common occurrences which tend to trigger complaints:

  • spam comments on your blog
  • spam comments on social media
  • spam emails
  • spam social media messages
  • bloggers pitching you their products and services without building relationships first
  • cheapie bloggers or business owners who want to place sponsored posts on your blog for 5 or 10 USD
  • unhappy, unclear folks who post terrible reviews on your eBooks based on their misery

I recall the last bullet point experience goaded me to write my eBook. A few listeners of my audio books and eBook readers posted sarcastic, biting reviews of both audio books and eBooks I self-published. Rather than complain or whine about the feedback I saw the criticism for what it was; the projection of an unhappy person who spoke 100% about self and 0% about me. All of my creations are clearly me, and what I did to co-create this life of island hopping through smart blogging. If anybody is insane enough to post a negative review on my clear, genuine creations, it is like saying:

“Hey Ryan, I was there every step of the way, watching you in paradise, stalking you behind your laptop, and you did a terrible job sharing your real experience!”

The only person on earth who could post a somewhat honest review is my wife Kelli; even she was not in my head or watching every one of my steps as I co-created this life with my readers. She was too busy building her own thriving business. No human was there to record everything, save me, and since I share it all in a genuine, clear way, any negative reviewer is deluded, and somewhat insane.

Few bloggers have this clarity or authenticity in what they do because they either are filled with fear and doubt, or hold back what they know. I have no such problems.

These are a few potential triggers, guys. I share to alert you to potential rants or sustained complaints before the negative energy seems to run away with your attention for a few minutes, hours or days.

Vent wholly, quickly and completely. Then convert the complaint into blog content. Everybody wins. Even the spammer.

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Blogging

What Is the Mushroom Service Effect and How Does it Increases Profits?

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Service leads to sales.

Every eBook I sell is the effect of a service cause. Many of my eBook customers received my direct help. Maybe I commented genuinely on their blog. Perhaps I mentioned them on my blog or on Blogging Tips. Maybe I retweeted their post. Or maybe I helped these people for weeks or months without asking for anything in return.

Some of these bloggers purchase my eBooks. I see increased blogging profits. Some promote my eBooks to their readers, leading to increased blogging profits. Some of those readers promote the eBook to their readers; can you see the mushroom service effect in action? I keep helping people in various ways, expect nothing, and my generous service reverberates, mushrooming into increased sales.

What happens as I help more folks by creating content and by promoting fellow bloggers? More bloggers promote me, link to me, boost my backlink juice, and Blogging From Paradise becomes more prominent on Google. Search engine traffic increases my blogging profits. More mushrooming.

You never go wrong helping people generously because every creative act prospers you and others, now, next week or 3 years down the road.

My friend Alonzo Pichardo helps people generously and gives little thought to content once he publishes posts, videos and podcasts. He lets the content do what it does. His profits keep increasing but even more than that, he keeps moving higher and higher in networking circles as his generosity increases his influence. More mushrooming.

Visualize This

Imagine a still pond. Now imagine dropping a tiny pebble into a still pond. Waves reverberate as far as the water reaches. 10 inches, or 10,000 miles, literally, nothing can stop the waves from traveling outward, even if the waves are faint, or are barely detectable, after traveling for a while.

Now imagine dropping 100 tiny pebbles over a few weeks. Wow. You really see waves kicking at that point. Subtle, slow and controlled, but super noticeable.

The pond is your blogging niche. The stillness of the pond is your calm, peaceful, generous, detached intent, your energy, your relaxed mindset. The pebbles are pieces of content, aka, service. Plus, one pebble can represent:

  • every time you promote another blogger through a blog post on your blog
  • every time you promote another blogger through a guest post
  • every time you retweet another blogger
  • every time you share another blogger’s post on Facebook

The waves are your influence, your service, and, this is the mushrooming effect leading to greater blogging profits.

Guys; expect nothing. I promote valued blogging resources like the talented, generous and heart-centered Tanyi at Blog Tools Corner to give, not to get. The less I expect anything to happen, the more good things and awesome people flow to me.

Give freely, persistently, receive easily.

Enstine Muki provides you with generous tips to make money online, via his blog. He helps bloggers freely. Of course his blogging profits mushroom through his generous service, increasing through his friend network, through Google and through mentions on my blog, on Blogging Tips and in thousands of other spots.

Keep helping people freely. Expect nothing. Eventually, over time, if you are patient, your traffic and profits begin to mushroom exponentially.

Look at Tim Ferriss’ latest blog post. He is a multi millionaire and one of the most famous entrepreneurs on earth because he serves people generously. Note how many backlinks he gives to other bloggers and entrepreneurs through his latest post; that’s generosity! That’s an abundance mindset in action. Most bloggers feel terrified to give out a single backlink to another blogger for fear of losing profits, wrongly believing people will click on the other blogger’s link and not click on their business links. Tim links out to 20, 30 or 40 people or resources for every blog post.

Any wonder why the dude is so incredibly successful and prospering?

He employs the mushroom service effect like few entrepreneurs on earth.

Help people!

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Blogging

4 Ways to Become More Detached from Blogging Outcomes

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See that throwback featured image of me in Phuket, Thailand?

I became a globe trotting pro blogger in part through the power of detachment.

Blogging outcomes weigh you down and slow your blogging growth, if you are not careful.

Many bloggers mean well but are so obsessed with every view, Like, comment, share and dollar that they either struggle horribly or hold back stunning blogging success. How could I write over 100 eBooks if I obsessed with sales from my first eBook? How could I write 600 posts on Blogging Tips alone if I obsessed over metrics?

Eye-popping success finds largely detached, generous bloggers.

Follow these tips to become more detached from blogging outcomes.

1: Help More Ask Less

If you want blog comments, comment on other blogs.

Want blog traffic? Promote other bloggers.

Help bloggers to detach from your needs and to see greater success. Ask less and less for shares, comments and views, to detach from outcomes. Success finds generous bloggers.

2: Mention 2-5 Successful Bloggers Via All Posts

I recall focusing heavily on blogging profits early during my career. I linked to an ad or affiliate product once per post and linked to nothing else, obsessing over sales, attaching to outcomes. I gradually promoted other bloggers over years. Now I promote 2 to 5 bloggers virtually every post. I think more of helping them and less of helping me.

Corey Hinde promoted me tirelessly over years. He mentions me regularly. Jan Verhoeff does too. Each blogger detaches from their own needs to help other bloggers, accelerating their online success.

3: Manage Your Energy

Attachment is fear. Managing your energy helps you:

  • face fear
  • feel fear
  • release fear
  • dissolve attachments

I do 80 minutes of deep yin yoga daily. Plus I jog or walk for 45-60 minutes daily. Meditating helps too.

Managing your energy rocks because so many bloggers cling deeply to fear-attachments, to stats and money and to clients and blogging buddies, and need a daily ritual to unearth and release these attachments. I strongly suggest deep yin yoga because it helps you become comfortable. Big time quality developed by all generous, pretty darn detached, bloggers.

Don Smith shares personal growth and energy shifting gems on his blog. My wife Kelli Cooper does too at Life Made to Order.

4: BE with Your Fear

I vividly recall sitting and BEING with my fear each time I checked my blogging inbox. I felt a general not enough energy pervade my being. Panic then ran through my body. Anger. Pain. Grief, at time lost. All fears reflected heavy attachments to:

  • money
  • list subscribers
  • traffic
  • fame

I totally believed I should have been further along at these points during my blogging career. Turns out, I was at the perfect place and time to feel deep fears, to dissolve attachments and to proceed from a generous, genuine, pretty detached, patient and persistent space.

Fighting fear only makes attachments grow. Not checking email for weeks because you feel terrified to check email makes the fear and attachment grow. But checking email hourly because you feel terrified that you:

  • will miss out on clients
  • are not making enough money, and need to check and see if you are making any aka enough money, yet

reflects your attachment to you. Ya know; “How am I doing-itis.” Check stats, check email, all the time, because you fear to see how you are doing.

Feel fear behind any strategy driven by fear. Let the fear go. Dissolve the attachment.

I check email here and there, never being attached to it. Email is not the source of my blogging success.

Treat blogging outcomes like mile markers on a highway, when you whiz by at 80 MPH. Note the stat for a few seconds and either move in a different direction or charge forward, based on how you feel about the stat, and what the feeling suggests to you.

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