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5 Things Bloggers Can Learn From Journalism School

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There is little doubt that journalism is facing some very serious challenges. Newspapers across the country, and even the world, are facing declining readership and, in many cases, are closing down.

Though the role of journalism is changing in the Internet age, that doesn’t mean there is no place for the techniques and tools that journalists use and have used for decades. Though blog writing differs greatly from journalism writing in many ways, there are still elements of journalism and journalism writing that still apply.

Though a blogger certainly doesn’t need to go to a j-school to do well, there are some lessons from a journalism school that could help out. Specifically, here are five things that bloggers could pick up from a journalism school, or even just a journalism class, and not lose what makes them unique and personable.

5. The Inverted Pyramid

Even in the most traditional of newspapers, the inverted pyramid is not the correct format for every story, but there are many cases where it is the ideal way to present the information.

The inverted pyramid is a system that works by having the general synopsis of the article in the first paragraph with more and more details in subsequent paragraphs, working to the least important details at the end. The idea is that, if readers are not interested in a story, they can read the first few paragraphs and get the big idea, but those who want to know more can read more can read to the bottom and get the full story.

Though it isn’t ideal for all or even most blog posts, understanding the style and how to use it can help you convey information in the fastest and most accurate way.

4. Interviewing Skills

Some people are naturals at asking questions, others aren’t. Likewise, some people are naturals at answering questions while others make it feel like pulling teeth to get a quote.

Knowing how to put people at ease, how to ask questions that get people talking and what the role of an interviewer is is critical when trying to get information out of another person. Also, being comfortable asking tough questions and knowing when to press on an issue is important to getting the whole story.

As with any skill, there are those who do this well naturally, but for others, learning the ins and outs of the interview may be very helpful.

3. Radical Clarity

Radical clarity is a writing style taught in many journalism schools, though it often goes by other names. The premise is to not write so that you can be understood, but write so that you can’t be misunderstood. It’s about writing so that people, no matter what biases they bring to reading your story, will get your exact message.

Though not so much a specific style, it’s a way of rereading your own work with different viewpoints in mind and actively deconstructing your own words. The idea is to reduce, though not always eliminate, cases where people misinterpret what you are trying to say.

2. Copy Editing

Grammar rules may be taught in English classes, but the art of editing writing, especially one’s own, is covered much more thoroughly in journalism classes as it is a critical part of any reporter’s job.

Editing one’s own work is surprisingly difficult to do. Most people have a tendency to skim through their writing as they are already familiar with it. Journalism schools teach reporters how to slow down when reading their work, often by reading their writing out loud to themselves, and objectively editing it.

Mass Media Law

Though the medium has changed, the laws have not. Those who publish on the Internet are still responsible for being aware of the laws that they will be held accountable to. Copyright, defamation, libel, trademark and privacy are just some of the areas of law that are critical for bloggers to know about and are all covered in basic law and ethics classes in most journalism schools.

The EFF has created a great Legal Guide for Bloggers that goes over many of these areas, still there is no substitute for an actual class on these issues and a robust understanding of the law.

Just because you, as a blogger, may not write like a journalist doesn’t mean you can’t be sued like one. It happens all the time.

Bottom Line

For bloggers who have studied journalism, the key is to find ways to incorporate the important parts of their education into their blogging without hurting their voice or personality on the Web. For those who haven’t studied journalism, it is important to find ways to integrate the most important and more relevant lessons from journalists into their writing.

In the end, no matter what kind of blogging you are doing, there are ways that at least some education in journalism can help you improve it. Fortunately, these days you can likely get much of that education informally and on the Web.

After all, you don’t need a degree in journalism, just a basic understanding of some of its key components.

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Do You Need to Make a Huge Blogging Shift?

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Sometimes, you get bogged down with your blogging routine. Routines feel comfortable, right?

But blogging is a feeling game like life is a feeling game. All flows based on your emotions. If you feel really good – first – then you take good feeling blogging actions and over time, with patience and trust, see good feeling blogging results.

Unfortunately, most humans give almost zero thought to their emotions before diving in to a blogging routine. Bloggers believe you need to do something or follow a set routine to succeed, to drive traffic, and to make money. Day after day, year after year, most bloggers follow a routine without giving zero thought to how they are feeling, if they enjoy blogging, if they have fun following the routine, and if they feel detached, patient and trusting in the process.

This is the only reason why as of about 7 years ago, 80% of bloggers never made more than $100 during their blogging careers. If 8 out of 10 humans can not make $100 through blogging over 1, 2, 5 or 10 years, 8 out of 10 bloggers clearly give zero thought to their feelings BEFORE blogging. Feel bad, and you see no money. But those 2 out of 10 bloggers who feel really good make lots of money over the long haul.

Shift

Maybe it is time to make a shift, guys.

2-3 months ago I made one shift. 1 month ago I made an even bigger shift; quite huge, for me. But what I did differently made almost zero difference. How I chose to feel marked the big shift, then, I moved into different blogging actions.

For example, I faced some deep fears, felt the fears, and instantly, after feeling pretty crappy for a short time, I felt better and better. Choosing to face fear, clear it, and feel better, helped me see things clearly. I tired of my blogging schedule, my social sharing groups, blog commenting and heavy cross promotion. In truth, I hated it. I did have some fun with each for a while but the passion long left me. Since how you feel before and while you blog means everything, my mindset-feeling shift told me I’d have so much fun guest posting. So as of about 3-4 weeks ago – maybe less – all I do is guest posting because I have fun guest posting and guest posting comes easily to me.

Making the shift involved facing deep fears of failure, loss and struggle. I had to feel the fear of letting go lifeless activities for me – at the time – to clear out the fear, and properly release these strategies, and to move forward so I could feel good, then, decide what blogging actions would feel fun and easy and enjoyable to me.

All shifts happen emotionally first, by your choice. After feeling some muck and then feeling better, you clearly and intuitively feel through the next fun-feeling, enjoyable step.

What About You?

Do you need to make any shifts with your blogging campaign? Or do you need to make one big, sweeping, all-encompassing shift?

Getting caught up in blogging routines feels comfortable, familiar and safe, sometimes. But do you feel good before you begin the routine? Do you feel good working the routine? Do you feel detached, relaxed, trusting and like you are cared for, and prospering, while following your blogging routine?

Be honest to make a necessary shift. If you love following your routine, cool. Proceed. But most humans are taught – me included – to follow some routine (no matter how you feel) to get something, specifically money, so you can avoid failure, struggle, poverty, going hungry, illness, and embarrassment. This is exactly why most humans work jobs. Follow a routine to get money even if you feel really bad or terrible following the work-routine; aka, even if you hate your job and it feels lifeless, or soul-less.

May be time for a big shift guys.

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Why Comedians Teach You a Powerful Blogging Lesson

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Last night I saw a funny comedian perform in Atlantic City.

Chris Delia charmed the audience with his silly, somewhat absurd, level of humor.

He also explained how comedians need thick skin to become successful. Humor is a very personal, subjective topic. Some people find some comedians hysterical but never laugh at other comedians. As you imagine, bombing feels terrible to most comedians. At least until they develop a thick skin.

I once read how Kevin Hart often waited until 1 AM to work an open mic. Sometimes he waited until 1 AM and the place closed down so he never got the chance to do his set. Imagine how thick-skinned you need to be to not let that bother you? Is it any wonder why he is now worth $150 million? He became immune to criticism, failure and rejection. As a matter of fact, after developing a thick skin, he likely did not see criticism, failure or rejection.

All those evenings of 1 AM sets in front of 1-2 lifeless people or all those nights of being told to go home at 1 AM after waiting for hours to do his act purged the fear of criticism, failure and rejection from his being. Void of these fears, he rose up to being one of the most famous, wealthy and powerful comedians on earth.

Bloggers Need Thick Skin

I once promoted a course to the tune of 8000 page views before I sold one copy. Did I quit promoting the course? No. I developed a thick skin during the process. I did not see 8000 rejections. I only saw meeting and helping more human beings through my blog. Even during moments when I felt like giving up I trusted in myself and believed in the blogging process. Quitting and failure were no options for me. But in the same vein, I needed to be thick skinned to see through criticism, rejection and failure.

I needed to be aware of opportunity amid the appearance of nobody reading my blog. Toss in being patient and persistent in helping folks during my most trying times and you have a pretty thick-skinned individual.

Do Not Care What People Think

Chris Delia shared how he could care less what people thought about him. He dressed down a few hecklers during the show.

Comedians succeed because they care less about what people think of their acts; being heckled, ignored or criticized had nothing to do with their belief in self and their belief in their comedic style.

As a blogger, give no thought to what people think of you. Guess what? You cannot control your reputation. No matter how long and hard you work in life to maintain a positive reputation, you can never physically control what people think of you. I am largely a nice guy 99.99% of the time yet some people genuinely hate me. I cannot control their demons. Plus I know we see the world as we see ourselves so if someone hates themselves I cannot do anything about that self-loathing.

Focus on yourself. Focus on what you think about yourself because this is the only thing that matters. Being comfortable in your own skin aligns you with loving, loyal followers who appreciate you for who you are. Let go everybody else. Critics form an energetic yoke if you care about their thoughts but dissolve into thin air when you could care less about what they think of you.

Bloggers become successful because these few folks who have thick skins shine brightly in a world of thin-skinned bloggers who fear criticism, judgment and rejection. The few who step it up do wonders because we all want a piece of free spirits who march to the beat of their own drum without caring what people think, say or do, in response or reaction to them simply being themselves.

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Do You Have an Exit Plan for Your Blog?

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This past week I ceased sharing posts in blogging tribes.

I finally got it; I joined tribes because I feared unless I shared other blogger content, nobody would read my content. I feared if nobody shared my content, nobody reads my content, and I needed to share other blogger content to effectively influence bloggers and people to share mine. Ouch.

As you can imagine, I put in many long, hard hours working a job, NEEDING to be online to succeed with my blog. Rewind. Working a job. Did you see this phrase? I worked a job. I needed to be online to succeed. Largely, at least. Does that sound like a business owner to you? Does that sound like leveraging? Sure I drive some passive traffic and profits to my blog but being honest, I largely worked a job and had a job for much of my 10 years online, and I did not have a pure business so I could step away from my blog and business for months, at a time. Or, forever.

Exit Plan

I have more of an exit plan now. I have a blogging business. I am writing my tail off to be in as many spots as possible without relying on sharing tribes and other groups that require me to be online, to social share posts, so other people can social share my posts, so I get traffic and profits. I began to think; what am I doing? I mean, if you love joining social sharing tribes, do it. Nice friendship builder. But you need to have some exit plan with your business and need to see how you can step away one day so it is about a 100% passive income machine – or, so you can sell it at a tidy profit – in order for you to be a free entrepreneur, versus a bound employee.

Think Leveraging

I am having so much fun writing blog posts and guest posts daily. Plus it is easy peasy. Every piece of content is forever, unless all these blogs vanish or get closed out by all these bloggers. Fat chance. Plus I can drive to Atlantic City today with my wife and enjoy a show this afternoon into evening and my business will still grow from a heavy passive element. Even though I am online writing this morning, all my blog posts and guest posts serve as a passive promotional army for the Blogging From Paradise blog and brand.

Imagine me trying to social share other blogger posts as I am driving down the Parkway? Not happening.

Networking Rocks

Network. Have fun making friends. Build a rock solid foundation for your blog. But eventually, evolve into someone who leverages your presence so you work a business, not a job. Any strategy 100% dependent on you being online, sharing blogger content so other bloggers share your content and boost your success, is a job, not a business, because you are tied to the online world and have no exit strategy, and a light passive element to your blogging business.

Gradually place less emphasis on networking online. Focus on purely passive elements, like writing more blog posts and guest posts, which last forever. Humans change, quit, fail, change tastes; you never want to be at the mercy of the fickle human beast. Unless all blogs close down, all of those blog posts and guest posts you wrote are pretty much forever.

Focusing a bit more on things – things helping people – helps you leverage your blog and business powerfully so you can make an exit plan and step away from your blogging business for 1, 2 or 3 months. I know bloggers who take vacations for months; everything keeps growing money-wise because they leverage, and are not dependent on people for cash flow, because their system creates the cash flow.

Trust in the process plays a big role too.

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