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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

Why Do So Few Bloggers Make Money?

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You are ready to make more money blogging.

I see it.

I feel it.

So never ask questions like this:

Fear-filled bloggers ask such questions.

People afraid to lose money ask such questions.

Since where your energy goes, grows, if you fear losing money, you lose money.

Can you see why few bloggers make money?

Most humans and bloggers fear losing money.

Making money through blogging becomes impossible if you fear losing money.

You cannot fear losing money and make money simultaneously. Impossible.

You cannot feel abundant, rich, whole and complete, and lose money. Impossible.

Analyze this Question

The Quora user asking above question typifies many bloggers who fear:

  • losing money
  • spending money
  • being scammed
  • being spammed

Said fear co-creates fear-filled, poverty-inducing, failed results.

Life mirrors your energy.

Few bloggers make money because few bloggers feel abundant, rich, whole and complete.

Your Energy Dominates Your Actions and Life

I recall working really hard creating, connecting and doing stuff successful bloggers told me to do.

I still went broke.

Why?

No matter how hard I worked and no matter what proven, successful blogging advice I followed, my energy screamed:

  • fear
  • lack
  • limitation
  • poverty
  • scarcity
  • no money

so I manifested lack, poverty, scarcity and no money.

Your energy dominates everything.

How to Make More Money Blogging

I decided to visualize riches, to feel wealthy, to focus on blogging wins and to keep things positive.

Almost instantly, I began to make more money blogging because I changed my predominant feeling to rich, abundant, wealthy vibes.

Money appeared in my bank account through 2 income streams with minimal work. I got an idea to promote my blogging course frequently; I sold more courses. I linked to my eBooks frequently to boost eBook income. Toss in acting on an idea to SEO optimize posts and I made even more money blogging through passive, targeted Google traffic.

Money flowed to me because I visualized myself with more money, I chose to feel rich, I emitted a calm, confident vibe, and I felt detached and knowing riches are mine.

As within, so without.

Go From Lack to Lots

The person asking the Quora question allowed fear to dominate their mind, focusing on lack of opportunities. Such folks are broke or go broke fast because where your attention and energy goes, grows.

Focus on lots. Concentrate on the idea of abundant. Feel rich by visualizing yourself with riches. Count all of your blogging wins. Keep things positive.

Life just follows your mindset. Experiences follow where you choose to put your attention and energy.

Few bloggers make money because few bloggers choose to focus their mind on abundance, wealth, riches, success and positive ideas.

Choose to make money blogging now. Visualize yourself being wealthy. Feel opulence. Step into the spirit of opulence.

Pull out your credit card to invest in my blogging course. Investing money makes you more money. Money circulates; release it to see it return to you multiplied.

Rich people feel and act this way. Emulate bloggers who make money.

Think, feel and act rich to earn riches.

Make money blogging.

Step away from the herds of bloggers who focus on lack.

Think abundance.

Prosper.

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How Can You Start Blogging for Free?

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Impossible.

Blogging requires:

  • financial investment; domain and hosting at a minimum
  • time investment
  • energy investment

Blogging is a skill. You invest money to begin developing the skill effectively. Add time and energy through your blogging work and you lay the foundation for a successful blogging career.

You cannot start blogging for free because without financial investment you are not really blogging.

Imagine starting a blog on a free platform.

How can you ever impress people if you fear investing $7 a month on hosting and $14 on a domain?

People see the free platform, believe you to be an amateur, you lose your credibility as potential readers do not trust you, and folks exit your blog.

Investing Money to Make Money

Observe my blog:

Blogging From Paradise

I invested thousands of dollars in my blog over the years and made a lot more money than thousands of dollars.

I bought my domain and hosting 10 years ago as an investment in freedom and greater profits.

Fast forward a decade; I have circled the globe for 8 years, living in places like Fiji, Bali and Costa Rica. The thousands of dollars I invested allowed me to:

  • gain reader trust
  • convey a professional brand image
  • be seen as one of the top bloggers on earth
  • increase blog traffic
  • increase eBook sales, course sales and audio book sales
  • be featured on world famous sites
  • move higher in blogging circles

Imagine if I began blogging for free. Would Fox News want to interview a blogger using a free blogging platform? No. Of course Fox News seeks out renowned leaders and every blogging leader invests money in blogging to do blogging right.

Free Platforms Look Cheap and Unprofessional

Free blogging platforms look terrible.

Can you ever gain reader trust if your blog looks terrible?

Observe the long, wordy, non-branded domain name, including the free hosting company. Imagine if cnn.com was cnn.blogspot.com? Would you trust CNN if the corporation used a free blogging platform? No.

This is from my trip to Turkey.

Imagine if espn.com was espn.typepad.com. Would you trust the content? No.

Even if you intend to never profit through your blog you better buy your domain and hosting because few if any readers trust bloggers on free platforms.

How to Begin a Blog the Right Way

Invest money in:

Invest money in your success.

Begin blogging the right way to cut years off of:

  • your learning curve
  • your success curve

Money circulates; invest money today and it flows back to you multiplied exponentially.

Losing or spending money is impossible in a Universe of abundance.

Develop this prosperity consciousness to begin blogging from an abundant, successful, positive energy.

Develop a Money Consciousness to Make Money with Your Blog

The old saying goes; it takes money to make money.

I take it one step further; it takes a money consciousness to make money.

A high number of bloggers invest money in their blog but struggle to make money. Said bloggers believe they spent or lost money on their blog, which is not true.

Develop a money consciousness.  It takes a money consciousness to make money with your blog, meaning you need believe money circulates, as you release money and it returns to you multiplied in awesome fashion.

I discovered 2 unknown, unexpected income streams recently, both online. Why? I circulate money. I see any investment in my blog, in bills or in anything, flowing back to me multiplied.

Develop this positive, abundant mindset.

Invest money in your blog from day 1.

Begin blogging the right way.

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Blogging

How to Build Brand Authenticity Using Customer Generated Content

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Creating quality content is the best thing someone can ever do for their company. When done right, it generates a lot of traffic towards the website thus giving a high likelihood of converting the followers into leads. Unfortunately, quality content is expensive and can use up a lot of money, time, and very exhaustive.

Fortunately for us, there is another way to get quality content without having to go through all this hustle. When you make use of this strategy, it will turn out to be more powerful and accurate than other cumbersome methods. This solution is known as User Generated Content (UGC) since it is one of the simplest way to get results without getting tired.

What is the significance of UGC?

The moment you make use of content generated by customers, you automatically create trust with other customers. This is because more than 80% of consumers find content generated by their fellow customers to be convincing and true than what the brands can write about themselves. The assumption is that no one will ever write negatives about themselves unless third parties take over.

UGC is the most authentic type of content as 98% of it is true since customers have no interests in the customers creating profits. If something is bad, they will write it as it is. The reverse is also true. It is therefore recommendable to spend more time curating on the content written by consumers rather than the company itself. You can also use a tool like keyword.com to better create content for your audience and to also rank higher in Google for multiple keywords and search phrases.

The other advantage of UGC is the ability to track all the conversations and mentions. This mostly helps by finding out what the customers think about your services and products. In case of any problem, you can address the same issue. You are allowed to comment on the same wall towards their plights.

The other advantage is to help a company in saving time meant to write content. This time can be allocated to other issues that help in accumulating profits for the business.

Ways to Build an Effective UCG Marketing Strategy

1 – Choose your platform wisely

You do not just create a CGC in any area. The first thing is to ensure that you have a good number of active followers in online platforms. In addition to this, remember that each platform works differently; Facebook users are known for sharing content whereas Instagram is more of visuals. When you ask people for content, remember to be specific with what you want since a lot of us are ready to talk about anything we wish.

2 – Collect independent customer reviews

Customers’ reviews are very vital to any business as they act as personal recommendations to other people who are yet to try your brand. In fact, a lot of people prefer to read a number of reviews before making a conclusion on whether to buy or not. If someone comes across two or more negative comments, a good number will pull away from your page. Remember that savvy customers will always spot fake reviews hence the more reason to stick to authentic customers. The only way to win their hearts is by offering what you promised in the first place.

3 – Offer rewards

There is nothing as encouraging as being rewarded for doing something. Offering rewards attracts a lot of people towards your page as everyone is eager to get something. Don’t try too hard by getting expensive gifts. You can promise that a winner will have their tweets retweeted or you feature their article or business on your page. Not only will they feel happy that they are part of your success but will also attract new users to subscribe.

Neil Patel is often preaching about the process of offering rewards and getting users to submit an email address on your site — which you can then follow up with afterwards. You can read more on Neil and his most recent resources in this article from webdesignteam.com.

4 – Support a charity event

You need to remind your customers that your brand is not after making profits but rather in helping the community in different events such as acts of charity. Let people know that you have a greater vision for them too.

Online platforms can either break or boost your business. This is because a lot of people have turned to recommendation on social media by strangers or friends. If you want better reviews, ensure that your products are quality and services are up to standard.

User Generation Content is the Way to Go!

With more than a billion active websites and blogs on the internet today, content overload is happening daily. The same is true for brands and bloggers that are struggling to create original content on their own.

The better option is to build a platform or content creation and marketing plan that relies on content being created from other users. After all, how much content has Facebook or Instagram ever made… and look at how huge and massive their brands are!

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