This is my first guest post here at Blogging Tips. I am excited about being a part of this blog because I have been a reader for a long time and I have always appreciated the high quality content offered here. Hopefully you will find my contributions helpful and feel inclined to interact with my articles.
My name is Sara Christensen. I spend the 9 to 5 part of a typical day as a techie for a not-for profit and the rest of my waking hours as a techie for myself. You can find everything you need to know about me from the About link at Pajama Professional so I am not going to ramble on about Sadie, my retired show cat.
I thought for a long time about how to approach this guest spot. I know that many people don’t take blogging very seriously, but I consider it a serious business and I want to be able to take pride in any article published under my byline. I look at it no differently than if I were writing a column for Newsweek or Time. It is a real job and I plan to treat it as such.
Generally, a regular column in a newspaper or magazine has a theme. While Blogging Tips already has a theme, I have decided that I want to narrow my guest posts even further and focus primarily on the craft of writing. I have a BA in English and was thisclose to a Journalism minor so I think my knowledge could be useful to others.
Different means of publication call for different writing styles. There are some things about writing for a blog that make it different from any other type of writing. So, for my inaugural post here at Blogging Tips I would like to share Six Ways Blogging Differs From Other Types of Writing.
1. This is Not The Times
Like an article for a newspaper, a blog post must have a strong lead. The trick is to make your lead hook readers without being too stiff and newsy. For a newspaper lead I might write: “Microsoft CEO Bill Gates announced today that he will be retiring in June of 2008.”
If I used that lead in an article on my blog, readers would be heading elsewhere for more interesting content. Breaking news on your blog is great, but that doesn’t mean your posts have to sound like news. If readers want news, they will head to CNN.com. They are at your blog because they want your original viewpoint. The fastest way to lose readers is to start regurgitating news content in a really boring fashion.
2. Personality = Popularity
If you want to succeed as a blogger, you have to be likable. Or hate-able. Or both. Just try your very best not to get caught somewhere in between. Be memorable. Find your voice. I will be discussing methods by which you can find your voice in one of my upcoming guest posts.
The thing to remember is, popular blogs become popular because of the blogger. A good blogger shows personality even when he/she is writing about an impersonal topic. Regular readers start to feel like they know the blogger personally. Once this happens, readers form attachments and loyalties that are achievable only in a venue like blogging that highlights a writer’s personality.
Just as you need a solid personality to be a good blogger, you also need solid opinions. Your opinions should be well-expressed and researched. You can absolutely base your opinions on emotions if that’s the way you want to go. But if you want to be taken seriously, you need to back those feelings up with facts.
People who read blogs like their facts with a healthy dose of originality. Don’t ever be afraid to share your opinions, even if they are different from everyone else’s. The issue on which you disagree wtih the five most popular bloggers could be the issue that brings the best linkbait post you’ve ever written. Each interesting, original opinion you have is an opportunity. Seize it.
4. Cut the Fluff
With a blog, you’re generally not writing to a certain word count or number of inches. This is significant because it means you can use all the words you need to say what you want to say. Then you can stop. There is no reason to write a blog post with filler and fluff. When I say fluff, I do not mean a nice literary intro, a related experience or a relevant quote. I mean extra words and off-topic ramblings.
Sometimes it can be tricky to decide what is fluff and what isn’t. You might think a point is relevant because of your experience, but its inclusion might not make sense to anyone else. I will write more about techniques for cutting the fluff in an upcoming post. For now, a good tactic for telling if your post is fluff-free is to read it aloud. If you feel yourself start to zone out at some point, go back and figure out why. If you are unable to follow your own writing then you have no hope of keeping the interest of other readers.
5. Think Audience
Write to your readers. Most blog visitors read at approximately a sixth-grade level. A flashy vocabulary and a lot of technical jargon do not make you look smart, they make you annoying and hard to read. They make you a lonely blogger. If you stick to writing “correctly” but conversationally you’ll do just fine.
Depending on your niche, you may need to consider other factors when addressing your readers. For example: if you are writing a blog aimed at Conservative Christians, it wouldn’t be appropriate to throw around a bunch of profanity. If you are not comfortable writing in a style that appeals to the readers you are attempting to attract, you might want to rethink your niche.
Most bloggers choose to write what they know and/or love. This is an especially great guideline for a new blogger as it is much easier to find your voice if you have knowledge of or passion for your material. A new blogger who chooses to write about a certain topic just because he/she thinks it will be profitable or popular is not very likely to succeed.
6. Watch Your Language
You have to know the rules in order to break them. Maybe you think this doesn’t apply to blogging, but it very much does. There’s a huge difference between comfortable, casual writing and ignorant, lazy writing. And readers can tell the difference very quickly. And, just as quickly, they will go read a blog that doesn’t feature unintelligible run-on sentences and include the word “irregardless.”
It is perfectly acceptable – even advisable – to write a bit like how you speak, infusing your posts with literary personality. However, this does not mean you should pepper your posts with misplaced commas, misspelled words and misused nouns. Yes, studying grammar and English language usage can be really boring. But if you want to be a good blogger, you need to study the craft.
Blogging is a means by which nearly anyone can instantly become published. You do not need an editor, an agent or a publishing house. All that is required is a PC, some free software and whatever words you can pull from the alphabet soup in your brain. Anyone can write a blog. The challenge is writing a good blog, or even a great blog.
In the world of blogging, there are a lot of blogs to choose from on any topic imaginable. For this reason, it’s often more about how you write than what you write. I plan to use my space here as a Blogging Tips guest blogger to share tips, tricks and tools to become a better writer and, by extension, a better blogger. In next week’s post I will use my superstar writing skills to make grammar an interesting subject.
And, yes, I really do have a retired show cat named Sadie.
Should You Aim for Blog Post Quality or Quantity?
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The human mind is silly. It thinks one or the other. It thinks you cannot have it all. You can have blog post quality and quantity but you need to make a clear decision on what you define to be a quality blog post.
Quality posts do not mean 2000 to 4000 word, pillar style masterpieces. A quality blog post answers the question you asked via title or delivers on the promise you made on the title.
I do understand how Google ranks 2000 word or longer, SEO-optimized posts requiring hours of work for even skilled bloggers to write, package and publish. But Google also ranks 600 words posts. 600 word posts are quality posts. Guess what? For the 30,000 bloggers out there asking the title question, I just wrote a quality blog post because they get a clear, concise, dead on answer.
Avoid Scarcity Thinking
Any time you FEAR posts are not quality because word length is 600 words, you think scarcity, or, not enough, or, not quality. But fear is not true. Fear is illusion. I can write 10, 600 word, quality posts today to make a massive impact and to help people IF I think abundance. But if I only believe I write quality, helpful posts in the 2000 word range, I stopped thinking abundance and began thinking scarcity. I chose fear over love and abundance. Naturally, all bloggers who think scarcity either struggle, fail and quit or work like beasts just to make end’s meet. Not good.
Go for quantity and quality. Some posts may span 800 or 1000 words but you can answer most questions and solve most problems in 600 words if you have immense clarity. Seth Godin answers most questions in 100 to 300 words. You have so much more to work with. So…work with it!
Think abundance. Blog abundance.
I have referenced Gary Vee many times recently and his 2000 video interviews on YouTube. Before he landed world famous speaking gig he had a pure abundance mindset, doing videos left and right, offering quality insights on a high quantity of channels. Blogging fools would try desperately to land an interview on a TV show, pitching, fearing, worrying, striving, and wasting months of time, thinking scarcity. Gary thought abundance, seized every opportunity through interview requests from some entrepreneurs who registered zero views per video, gained massive exposure organically, and, the dude became famous through his abundance mindset.
He thought quality and quantity. He did not hold back.
I am beginning to gain massive exposure through the 5-10 guest posts and blog posts published under my name daily. I do not turn down a microphone. I also know the easiest way to become well known is to focus heavily on quantity and quality, to share the wealth.
Many bloggers would obsess over a quality post being 2000 words, SEO-optimized and all that jazz, spending 4 hours to write said post on blogging tips. Meanwhile, I just wrote and published 8 quality, 600 word posts during those hours. I am being seen helping people in 8 spots. While you are on the sidelines. Even if that SEO’ed out, 2000 word post gains massive traffic over the long term, via Google, I am gaining even more massive traffic, being in 8-10 places daily via my posts and guest posts.
Think exponential increase. Imagine my 10 guest posts building up over 365 days. That is 3,650 guest posts, 3,650 spots where I am spotted online. That is a lotta spots!
See why it pays to think quality and quantity?
How to Leave Your Blogging Struggles Behind
Exit your comfort zone on a daily basis.
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Leave blogging struggles behind.
I love blogging. Blogging feels fun, freeing and quite easy to me. But sometimes, on this journey, my feelings change a bit. Sometimes, blogging feels uncomfortable and I nudge into resistance. Fear rears its head. Mental blocks arise. Sometimes I fear running out of time or perhaps I fear wasting my time. In these moments, I have 2 choices: remain in my fear-filled comfort zone or leave my comfort zone.
I left most of my blogging struggles behind because I choose to leave my comfort zone on a regular basis. Traffic, profits, and all manner of sweet blogging success greet bloggers who feel their fears, leave their comfort zones and do the blogging task, anyway.
What Is Blogging Struggle?
Blogging struggle is doing things or not doing things based on fear. Fear drives you. You blog from a fear-based, scared energy. You avoid traffic and profit and success boosting activities because you fear the opportunities. Example; you struggle horribly to make money and drive blog traffic. I advise to begin generous, relaxed, enjoyable guest posting, to help you increase traffic and profits and success. The split second you THINK about guest posting, you feel a range of emotions, from excitement, to happiness, then, from terror, to anxiety, to a general fear of wasting your time.
If 2 people visit your blog daily and you see zero blogging profits now, and you say “no” to guest posting because of some fears, you will likely struggle horribly, because you avoided guest posting to stay in your comfort zone of fear.
Traffic and profits sit on the other side of fear, outside of your comfort zone. No way around that one. We all pay a fear tuition doing freeing, success-promoting, uncomfortable things. I remember when Zac invited me to guest post on Blogging Tips. Fear invaded my mind. Would he reject my posts? How about if he hated my posts? What if I wasted my time? Would I be able to follow all the rules? Would he criticize me? Of course Zac is the nicest, kindest, friendliest iconic blogger on earth. He REALLY is, guys. He is an exceptional human being. But fear is irrational, distorting the truths of love, harmony and abundance.
I had to feel all those scary, intense fears, and keep blogging anyway, to write and publish my first few guest posts here. 800 plus guest posts later, I am still going strong. Why? I left my comfort zone those first few times and instantly began leaving blogging struggles behind.
Exit your comfort zone every single day. Do something that scares you. Do something that tests your limits. Publish a 4 paragraph long comment on a top blog, even if you fear:
- nobody is listening
- nobody is reading comments
- nobody will click through to your blog
- you are wasting your time
- the comment won’t get published
This happened to me recently. I spent 15 minutes writing a 9 paragraph comment on Pro Blogger. But Disqus suffered some connection problems and prevented me from publishing the comment. I feared I wasted 15 minutes. But after feeling and releasing the emotion, I let it go, moved on, and devoted 10 minutes to writing and publishing the comment later in the day, when Disqus was working.
Struggles happen if you choose to blog mainly from fear.
Success happens when you nudge into these fears, toward your blogging fun, taking inspired but uncomfortable action on a daily basis.
Go for it!
Exit your comfort zone.
Leave your blogging struggles behind…for good.
Focus on Things More to Leverage Your Blog Quickly
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What is the relationships guy talking about?
Blogging is a people business, right?
Blogging is one part people and one part things. Seriously. I learned this recently because if you depend 100% on people to build your blogging success you cannot possibly scale to massive levels. But if you do focus on things more, like email lists, and blogging platforms, you become less dependent on people, and also, your leveraging potential goes through the roof.
Email List Example
Let’s look at the famous email list. It is a thing. After you publish a blog post, you write a few words, include a link to your latest post, and after clicking a button, email the post to 10, 100, or 10,000 people….or more people. In a split second, you reach 10,000 human beings. Using a thing helps you leverage your presence like mad. Awesome.
But imagine if you only reached 10,000 people by mentioning people in your recent post, and tagging them on social media. Humanly impossible, of course. Let’s say you depend on even, 50 people, to promote your blog post, by mentioning them and tagging them. Linking to and tagging 50 bloggers takes a lotta time. Minimum, even for a 700 word post, it takes 90 minutes to 2 hours – or longer – to go the tagging and mentioning route. Do you see the problem of depending 100% on people and friendships to build blog? You run out of time. Meanwhile, sending your post to 50 email subscribers takes 3 minutes to send the email and literally, a split second to actually publish the email, at the click of a button.
Using Things Effectively Leverages Your Presence
Using email lists, blogging platforms for guest posting and certain tools leverages your presence fast because eventually, you run out of time trying to leverage your presence solely based on grabbing the attention of fellow bloggers. Plus you are at the mercy of humans, and building a fear-based attachment to fellow humans leads to misery because humans change, humans get too busy to promote you, and humans unfriend other humans.
I am for making blogging a people and things business. I have learned this lesson the hard way over the prior 2 months. Befriend people and enjoy the process, but if you want to leverage massively and sprint up the exposure ladder, tap into the convenience of technology by using things to reach more people fast.
At the end of the day, it is about helping more people freely. Use things – aka technology aka inanimate objects – to help people more freely and to help more people, too.
Exit Human-Obsessed and Things-Resistant Blogging Circles
I used to be part of blogging circles 100% reliant – virtually – on human beings, and heavily resistant to things. But none of these bloggers leveraged to big time, super successful levels. These bloggers railed against bots and joked of not using or being a blogging cyborg. All seemed funny. But on agreeing and following their advice I soon learned how incredibly difficult it becomes to grow a successful blog being 100% attached to and dependent on human beings to build the blog. Humans change. Things do not. Plus you cannot leverage humans like you leverage things.
While all these folks complained about emails and automating, they played so small that reaching next level success proved to be 100% impossible. But, I observed how using things like systems and tools will help you reach huge, targeted groups of people in minutes or even seconds. See the email example above.
Instead of complaining about or resisting tech, why not use things to make life easier, to leverage your presence quickly and to reach a huge, targeted group of human beings so you succeed and so people get what they want?
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