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Does design matter in an ebook?

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Ebook DesignYesterday I announced the release of Blogging Tips 2nd ebook ‘Choosing A Web Host : Helping You Choose The Right Host For Your Blog‘. I thought I would share some of my thoughts on writing the book and give you a little inside look at one of the issues which was holding me back from releasing the book earlier.

Writing the book

I really enjoyed writing this latest ebook. The last ebook I released was the first one I had ever published so I had to spend a lot of time researching certain issues and familiarising myself with Word again (I hadn’t used it regularly for years).

Being more experienced with writing an ebook this time around, I was able to write it a little quicker and plan things out better. It also provided a welcome change from writing blog posts; normally I would have to try and condense a lot of information into the one article but with an ebook I can expand on the topic and make sure I cover everything.

I would like to say a huge thank you to regular Blogging Tips author Jonathan Bailey (Plagiarism Today) for proofreading this book. Not only did he pick up a few small errors, he also provided some much needed constructive criticism.

One of the issues that Jonathan brought up was the look and feel of the ebook. To put it simply, the ebook doesn’t live up to the nice clean look we have on the live blog. I wouldn’t say that the book format is lower in quality than many other ebooks available online, though I don’t think the design quality of the ebook does this site justice.

Look & feel of the ebook

I had thought about this a lot over the last few days (the book was actually finished last weekend). I believe that I could probably improve the formatting a little in the book and make it slightly more presentable but here’s the problem; I’m not a designer. It would literally take me hours to do something that a designer would do better in a few minutes.

I do normally outsource all of my design work though it is difficult to find a good ebook designer. Most of the ebook design services I have found focus on the ebook cover and not on the look and feel of the ebook content. I did come across one designer who specialises on ebook design though he charges a few thousand dollars. I could justify this cost to myself for a paid product but I don’t think that it would be worthwhile paying for something I am releasing for free.

I was in a state of limbo for a day or so thinking it over before I came to the conclusion that I need to just release it now and then, if necessary, retrospectively update all books at a later date. Not the ideal solution but considering the alternative, probably the most practical.

Between finishing the book and receiving feedback from Jonathan, I managed to write around 20 pages of my next free ebook (over the course of 2 days). However, when I was contemplating what to do with the design I couldn’t develop it any more. Well, I suppose I could have but I didn’t want to write it and then come back and have to reformat all the styles again.

Another concern was increasing the time it would take to release a book i.e. even if I did manage to find a good designer, it might have taken them up to a week to provide the finished article. Plus, if the design was unique to the book and could not be reused, I’d have to go through the whole process every time I release a book.

Does design matter in an ebook?

Over the last few days, I have been wondering about how much design matters with an ebook. I believe that a professional looking cover will help someone download or purchase an ebook, but what about the content? How much does the look and feel of the ebook content contribute to it’s success?

To get a better understanding of this, I checked the 40+ ebooks which I have saved on my computer (all web development related). A few of the books had top notch professional designs, which had obviously been worked on by a designer; the SitePoint books for example are very impressive.

However, the majority of the ebooks were of a similar standard to mine i.e. they did not have a lot of bells or whistles but the content could still be easily read. Many of these ebooks were released by top bloggers with tens of thousands of subscribers whilst some will set you back a few dollars, which doesn’t imply that a basic ebook design will hinder success too much. Though can I objectively compare my ebook to others?

I’d love to hear your opinion on this. I agree with Jonathan in that the design quality of the books I have released so far could be improved, though I’m interested in hearing how important bloggers think this aspect of the book is (particularly since I will be releasing more very soon). Perhaps we’re just being perfectionists 🙂

Some questions to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Is the size and type of font the most important factor in making an ebook readable?
  • Does a good ebook need image backgrounds, css style boxes etc?
  • Does a paid ebook need to be professional designed? Or would you be happy to purchase an ebook with a basic style if it had the content you desired?

Thanks for reading,
Kevin

Kevin Muldoon is a professional blogger with a love of travel. He writes regularly about topics such as WordPress, Blogging, Productivity and Social Media on his personal blog and provides support to bloggers at Rise Forums. He can also be found on Twitter @KevinMuldoon and .

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Writing

4 Blogging Tips for Freelance Writers

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Freelance writers, do you blog?

You better be blogging.

Running a well-stocked, self-hosted, WordPress blog showing off your writing skills is the most direct way to earn a lucrative living through freelance writing. Why? People with ample means get to see what you can offer through your blog, then, pay up. Both parties win. You have fun rendering a useful service. Clients get helpful, business-building content.

Blogging is a skill freelance writers need learn, and practice, to grow their business through blogging.

Follow these 4 tips to make money freelance writing through your blog.

1: Show Off Your Writing Skills by Publishing Content

Most aspiring freelance writers expect to make money freelancing without showing off their writing skills for free. Why in the heck would anybody hire you if they have no idea what you do, how you do it and why you do it?

Show off your writing skills by publishing content to your blog. Be generous. Publish one post weekly, at a minimum. Running a freelance writing blog seems smart to me. Along with teaching people how to be a skilled freelance writer, you build your friend network and show prospective clients your writing stuff.

Note; do not hold back. Many freelance writing blogger newbies publish one post and expect the floodgates of traffic, profits and clients to open up. Nope. Be generous, patient and persistent to gain client trust and to build your business over the long haul.

2: Network with Fellow Freelancers to Grow Your Reach

Get out of a competitive, poverty conscious vibe.

Enter into an abundant, generous, vibe.

Comment genuinely on fellow freelance blogs. Promote freelancers on your blog. Promote freelance writers on social media.

Here’s how money works, guys; if you do not fear losing money or clients to other freelance writers, you make tons of money through freelance writing over the long haul because all freelance buddies you make through your generosity promote you, endorse you and heck, some may even hire you.

Be generous. Help people. Make friends. Amplify your reach. Grow your business.

3: Build a Clear Freelance Writing Services Page

If you claim to be a freelance writer you better publish a clear, easy to understand, freelance writer page.

List specific services offered. Be clear to attract ideal clients who love what you offer.

Consider adding your writing rates to avoid tire kickers and other folks who want to bargain, barter and do other silly stuff. You are a business person. Bartering is for people in a Middle Eastern Souq. Set fixed prices. If people cannot afford your prices they can move on to another freelancer. Have posture.

Feel free to show off client testimonials if you have these endorsements but I have found this; if you get clear on your writing skills, show off your work through free content and clearly state what you offer, clients will find you and hire you. I did not even have a freelance business page when I landed my highest paying client. This shows you the power of clarity and mental alignment.

4: Build Blogging and Freelance Writing Posture

Please guys, do not barter, bargain or debate your writing rates. Do not charge $5 for a 600 word post. Do not work for peanuts just to say you landed a client. Do not work for demanding, overbearing clients. Never work for someone unless the person aligns with you, your values and your work.

Work for nice people who appreciate what you have to offer. This is the path toward great success online.

You choose clients. You pick clients. Have posture. Think and act abundantly.

Most freelancers struggle terribly because they have little or no posture. Believe in yourself. Believe in your abilities. Have faith. Trust in yourself.

The more you practice writing the more you gain confidence and clarity in your offering.

Enjoy your freelance writing success!

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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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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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