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On Agony and Blogging: How to Start Writing and Stop Panicking

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bigstock-Crying-Girl-In-The-Office--9619043 I was in second grade when I wrote my first blog post.

Okay, back in 1992, blogging wasn’t exactly a “thing” yet. But I had just received a shiny Lisa Frank diary for Christmas, and the blank pages were killing me. I had to fill those pages, and I had to do it now, before the white sheets drove me crazy.

So that night, I wrote my first entry. Or, at least, I tried. But as I sat there with purple gel pen in hand, I didn’t know what to write. I had so much to say that I didn’t know how to start writing. I began to panic. How would I ever grow up to be a famous novelist if I couldn’t even write a diary entry? I can remember my cheeks streaked with tears that first night as I cried myself to sleep, my new diary still completely empty.

Eventually, I filled that diary and several others like it with my joys, frustrations, and deepest, darkest, childhood secrets. Reading them now is hilarious. I was an intense child. And they are clearly “blog post” style – I wrote to a reader, not to myself, with apologies when I didn’t have time to write for a few days.

To this day, though, what sticks out to me most about writing in my diary is that terribly agonizing feeling of having a world of word jumbled in my head and not knowing how to start. It is one of the most frustrating part of being a blogger.

The Power of a Good Opener

Online, you a reader’s attention for only a moment. They’re gone in the blink of an eye. The best blog posts, the ones that thousands of people stop to read, have one thing in common: their opening paragraphs are awesome. I mean truly awesome.

And they’re engineered to be that way. The Internet’s top bloggers don’t get lucky. They know that a strong opening that really grips the reader is going to keep the reader reading and, eventually, sharing. Without a great opener, it’s nearly impossible for a post to go viral.

But writing a good opening and writing your first sentence aren’t the same things. There’s no rule that says the first sentence you write has to be the first sentence of your post (and if that were a rule, I would recommend breaking it). That said, there’s power to the first thing you write, too.

The Power of a Good First Sentence

You know that moment you write something good. You just know it. The sentence sings.

And then, suddenly, the floodgates open. The words begin to flow, I get into a groove, and the rest of the post makes it out of my head. The first sentence I write isn’t always the first sentence of the post, and sometime I end up cutting that sentence in editing or moving it to a different post. Having a first, finished, good sentence, though, is powerful. It unlocks the block in your mind and gives you the confidence it takes to write the post.

That’s something lost of people never talk about: blogging takes confidence. Your words are going out there for hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of strangers to read. They matter. Writing words that matter is scary. When you don’t know how to start, panic sets in, because people are counting on you (even if they don’t know it) to improve their lives in some way.

How to Start Writing

So how do I do it? I’ve written thousands of blog posts (no, I’m not exaggerating), and many of them have started with me wanting to throw my computer out of the window. So what’s my secret?

I’m sorry to say that it’s nothing magical. The way I write so many posts, always jumping that hurdle of not knowing how to get started is this: I force myself to just start.

I do a little outline of all the topics I want to cover in the post, and then I start writing. If I don’t know what to write, I just write something. Even if it isn’t good. I don’t let myself delete that sentence and go back to a black screen. I write another sentence. And another. I write until I have at least one good paragraph, then I delete all the crap and re-read what is left. And then, I don’t feel so bad. Because I have something that doesn’t completely suck.

I have a start.

Even on my worst days, when the agony of not being able to put my words on paper feels like it is strangling me, I don’t let myself quit. Sometimes I get mad and slam my laptop closed a little harder than I probably should. I go for a walk, I get in the kitchen and cook something (that’s my zen place), I read a few chapters.

And then I make myself write again.

Don’t give up. Don’t let the panic drive you to tears like it did to me when I was a kid. Blogging is not easy. Let me say that again: Blogging is NOT easy. Sometimes you have to force yourself to keep going, even when you want to stubbornly quit. But once you get that first good sentence ready, it will get better. It always does. You just have the first hurdle to jump, then you’ll be running downhill from there.

Image Credit: Bigstock

Blog Post Schedule: When and How Often to Publish New Blog Posts

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calendar blog post schedule Editor’s Note: Guest Poster Bill Belew wrote briefly about this topic back in March. Check out his advice, as well as reading this different perspective from guest contributor Shanna Mallon.

Whether you’re a new blogger or an old veteran, one thing’s for sure: You’ve heard you should be blogging regularly. If you’re going to blog at all, everyone says, you have to blog on a schedule. But how often is often? What blogging pattern translates to regular? Likewise, do certain days of the week or certain times of the day bring in better results? How can you tell? When should you post?

To help answer these questions, here’s a look at blogging’s big “When?” question and what you need to know.

Basic Blogging Post Time Principles

Before we look at the possibilities for blogging frequency, we need to look at a few key principles that guide scheduling decisions. Understanding these facts makes it easier to decide how often to post.

  • Quality Trumps Quantity

No matter how often a blogger posts, one thing is certain: Quality trumps quantity. Readers care more about what you’re posting than when. If your content is empty filler content, readers won’t care if you post every day or multiple times a day: Your content doesn’t matter. If, on the other hand, your posts are legitimately valuable, readers are more likely to keep coming back, even if posts are infrequent.

  • New Content Invites New Views

The logic is the same as the logic behind daily newspapers—People like to read content that is new. So just like you wouldn’t buy the same issue of a magazine every week, your readers are less likely to come back to a blog that shows the same old content every day. When you post new content, you give new readers a reason to check it out.

  • Readers Like Consistency

Posting consistently—whether that’s every Tuesday morning, every day, or every hour—communicates an unspoken promise to your readers. They learn your schedule and come to expect new content will appear as usual. When you always post at the same time, you build trust with your audience.

Posting Every Week vs. Posting Every Day vs. Posting Many Times a Day

OK, assuming you’re creating quality content that actually benefits your readers and you want to do it regularly, what does that look like? Should you post every day? Every hour? Let’s take a look at the options.

  • Posting Every Week

Most experts agree that if you blog regularly, that means blogging at least once a week. There are exceptions, especially for celebrity bloggers or other bloggers with established reputations, but in general, once a week is the minimum. If you choose this routine, consider making your once-a-week post always on the same day—Mondays, for example. Over time, your readers will remember your posts always appear on Mondays and want to come back to your site accordingly.

  • Posting Every Day

Say you want to increase your content frequency to something more regular than weekly posts. Maybe you post every Monday and every Friday; maybe every other day; or, perhaps, you decide to post every day. Daily posting is pretty standard for large blogs, whether they’re run by individuals or groups. Keeping this schedule can be time-consuming, so if you decide to post daily, you may want to enlist other writers to help.

  • Posting Many Times a Day

The largest, most trend-focused blogs post many times a day. Like news outlets or television stations, they are constantly providing new content for readers to view. Running this sort of blog requires a significant investment of time and energy, so you surely want a team of writers, but it also offers many rewards. Constant content often attracts a larger following, higher traffic numbers, and more potential for advertising or lead generation.

Your Thoughts on Blog Post Schedules

How often do you post on your blog? Do you post on a specific schedule, or do you post when you feel like it? If you haven’t tried a schedule before, maybe it’s time to give it a shot—to build trust with readers, keep yourself accountable, and prime your site for growth.

6 Subheadings Strategies You Need to Know

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bigstock-Beautiful-woman-with-thoughtfu-29888243 One thing can kill your blog post faster than a boring topic and flat language: subheading mistakes.

Of course, the biggest mistake of all is not using subheadings. Readers need subheadings so they can quickly find what they are looking for. Subheadings and space breaks give them the scannability and simplicity they crave.

But when it comes to pleasing writers, it’s about more than just using subheadings. It’s using them well.

Provide the Most Important Information First and Last

Readers land on a page and make a split-second decision if they want to stay or not. So don’t hide all of your best information toward the bottom. Give readers a juicy piece of information right off the bat so they immediately feel satisfied and interested.

Sprinkle in other important points throughout the rest of the article, but remember to save something really good for the end. Ending strong will reward the reader for making it to the end. It also establishes trust with the reader, making them far more likely to read your content to the end the next time.

Editor’s note: A great way to ensure that your beginning and end are strong is to use the Bookend Blog-Writing Technique.

Avoid Puns Even If It’s Fun

Playful titles and play-on-words might work for other mediums (like books, movies, and essays), but when it comes to online content, it’s better to say exactly what you mean.

Being clear in your subheadings helps impatient readers find what they are looking for and also helps keyword-hungry search engines label the content. Avoid titling a subheading something you think will make your reader laugh, unless you can do so while being clear. Instead, deliver a useful subheading that will make your reader understand.

Refer Back to the Title

The title of this article is 6 Subheading Strategies You Need to Know, so each of the subheadings in this article are strategies. Make sure that whatever you offer in the title, you deliver in the body.

It would be confusing to readers if the subheadings in this article were “Subheadings Are Important” or “Why You Should Use Subheadings”, as those phrases don’t refer back to what the reader is looking for — a list of strategies.

Separate Similar Sized Sections

Use subheadings to separate sections into roughly the same size of text. Notice how I use a subheading to separate the text every two or three paragraphs.

Keeping information under subheadings to roughly the same size keeps the depth of the information evenly dispersed. It shows if you have elaborated too heavily on one topic and not enough on another.

It doesn’t have to be exact, but you get the point.

Don’t Be Vague: Use the Subheading to Tell Your Reader Something

Even if you are writing a blog post where the subheadings sound like they should be short and simple, find a way to add extra useful information to the subheading.

If you are writing The Best Apps for Watching your Weight, don’t only put the app name in the subheading: “Workout Trainer” and “MyNetDiary”. Add bonus information that tells the reader more: “Workout Trainer: For Planning Work Outs” and “MyNetDiary: For Counting Calories”.

Count Down and Number Steps

Add numbers to your subheadings when they add context to the information. This happens most frequently in count downs or steps of instructions.

Numbers next to an element in a countdown are useful because they represent the value of an item. For example, #2 in a subheading in the article Countdown of the Best Beaches tells the reader the beach is pretty great. Numbers in steps of instructions are helpful because it tells the reader which step of the process they are on.

Numbers are great in subheadings, but only if they add value. Don’t add them if they have no point or context.

When it comes to subheadings, it is all about making things easier on the reader. So help the reader by clearly and simply offering them the information that they want.

Image Credit: Bigstock

Creative Blogging with a Persona: An Artist, Journalist, and Reviewer Walk into a Blog…

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We’re all guilty of going on auto-pilot with our blog once in a while: maybe we missed our deadline and need to whip up something quick, or we have to churn out a piece on a hot topic everyone else has done already, or worse yet, our eyes glaze over at the same old format on a blank screen. Such is the life of a blogger and time-crunched small business owner.

But what if you had someone else writing your posts occasionally? No, I’m not talking about a guest blogger, ghostwriter, or God forbid copying and pasting content from elsewhere…It’s You. Take on a new persona and “profession” for your next post. Who knows? By being creative, you could end up enjoying it, learn a new skill, and best of all, attract new readers and shares.

The Amazing Artiste

We hear over and over that visual web content—be it graphics, video, or presentations, is much more likely to be looked at, engaged with, and shared than its less sexy but equally important counterpart, text. Our brains are wired to pretty, shiny things. It’s no wonder Pinterest and Instagram have grown by leaps and bounds.

Graphic content also helps us digest information quicker: In fact, 40% of people will respond better to visual information than to plain text. And with all the choices on the Internet, our attention spans have shrunken to ADD proportions, so we are instantly attracted to snackable web moments. In other words, serve up imagery to tell your story quickly instead of relying on numerous keystrokes.

When it comes to visual storytelling, pretty much anything you can say with words will work with images. Find that challenging? For starters, you can keep it simple with brief commentary on an animated gif, a baffling series of Tweets from a major brand, one stark photo, or slideshow.

If you’re feeling more ambitious, go the data visualization route and combine data and graphic elements that blend well as an information shortcut. Create graphical representations of content with Infographics, the fastest growing way to display facts. There are many free resources to help. Or consider Mind Maps to explain big and small concepts alike.

More interested in videos to show your artisitc prowess? Photobucket, Vine, and Instagram Video are a few that can help. Or grab an existing video and write a few choice sentences about it. Some examples include: How a TED Talk inspires your work or makes a point about your industry, or an educational video for your readers. The only barrier is your  imagination. Either way you’ll be pulling double-duty delivering pre-packaged content that is already validated, while reinforcing your brand.

Reminder: Before you post content on your blog that is not yours, always check content usage guidelines.

The Rugged Reporter

Add instant color and flavor with interviews and quotes to your post by playing the enterprising journalist. Whether it’s a tech celebrity, industry luminary, or the chef at the hottest restaurant in town, get the words directly from the source to breathe new life into your blog. Also, the Q&A format of the interview is easily digestible and ready-made for readers to scan.

When interviewing someone “famous” or better known than yourself (which happens often), it can be intimidating. Believe it or not, though, by virtue of the fact that you have a blog, you’ll be granted instant credibility (even more so if you’re a published writer).

Truth be told, most people love to talk about themselves no matter who they are, and will happily promote their latest book, or whatever is most important to them at that time. For instance, in my post about bogus cosmetics claims, I located, researched, and interviewed the lead FDA attorney on a related and well-known case as an expert without any red tape (impressive for the government!). Or do a straight up interview. Posting a conversation with web-famous people also helps to build your SEO and traffic.

The Rogue Reviewer

Or take the opposite approach: Give your opinion, no holds barred. But let me clear about “reviewing.” We’re not talking about pay-for-play: I’m not advocating sponsored and/or paid reviews (unless they are clearly disclosed as such), but rather  expressing your opinion, and sharing your knowledge.

Do your homework before you try this style, and research the type of review you are doing. For instance, if you are doing a book review, take a look at popular review sites, or, if you’re doing a roundup on the latest phone apps, note the style and soak up some inspiration for what works (and what doesn’t) in that circle. Your readers will appreciate that you are doing the work for them, from product reviews to industry trends.

Be Everyone You Want to Be, Anytime

If you’re getting bored with your blog, chances are so is your audience. Why not shake things up for yourself and your readers?

7 Best Productivity Apps for Bloggers

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bigstock-Blog-824779 One of the biggest challenges with blogging is that it can be time consuming and hard to do when traveling. However, in recent years, thanks to wonderful and inspired app makers, there are now numerous tools available for bloggers which helps tremendously make blogging easy, convenient, and fun! With these productivity apps, blogging has become less complicated and you can get your daily tasks done, even while on the go.

Here are some of the best productivity tools for bloggers:

Blogger and WordPress

For iOS | For Android

Yes, blogging platforms top this list of productivity apps, since they make blogging on the go possible. Blogger is an app created by Google Inc. that makes writing, saving, scheduling, and publishing posts easy. The Blogger app also makes uploading pictures direct from the phone to the blog is very simple.

For bloggers who use travel a lot and who use the WordPress blogging platform, the WordPress app is another ‘must-have’ productivity tool. The interface is very user-friendly if you’re familiar with WordPress, making it easy to blog whenever you have time, even if you aren’t at home in front of your computer.

(Editor’s note: If you’re trying to decide between Blogger and WordPress, check out our post about choosing a blogging platform.)

Boomerang

For Gmail | For Outlook

Have you ever experienced forgetting to send an important email to a client or a boss? Boomerang is the answer. This app allows you to write the email ahead of time. You simply schedule when you want it sent; the app will do it for you. Boomerang can do more! This app is really like your virtual secretary. For example, if you sent an email containing a guest blog post to another blogger, you can set the application to remind you to get in touch with the recipient again if you don’t get a reply.

SEO Tool – Check Site Position

For iOS

For serious bloggers, knowing their search engine rankings is very important, and this used to be a challenge for bloggers who are always mobile or on the go. SEO Tool – Check Site Position provides the answer to this challenge. With this app created by Nopreset, bloggers can now easily check their page rankings wherever they are. It is also convenient to use especially for bloggers who have several domains or websites.

Memonic

For iOS | For Android | For Mac | For PC

Excellent posts often require lots of research. Researching however, can be very taxing. With memonic, bloggers now have a better way of tracking their research and saving it for later. Using this app, bloggers can effortlessly save any web content with just a click to their online notebook anytime. No need anymore to bookmark a lot of websites and visiting them again and again.

Otixo

For iOS | For Android

Bloggers who have challenges with too many files found their answer with Otixo, a convenient file manager for perfect for Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, and other popular cloud services. With Otixo, bloggers can easily find their files across cloud-based services, and with a single username and password, access these online services with ease. Here’s another thing that many bloggers like about this app: they can easily copy and/or move files from one service to another without the need to download them to their computer. The process is very easy because it’s just drag-and-drop and then it’s done!

Pixlr

For iOS | For Android

Great images make blogs more attractive to readers and visitors. For your not-so-perfect pictures that need editing, Pxilr is the perfect tool. This app is free and it allows the blogger on the go to edit pictures in order for them to fit perfectly to a blog post.

In your option, what are the best productivity tools out there? Do you have any favorite productivity apps that help you blog more efficiently when you’re not at your computer? Share them with a comment below!

Image Credit: Bigstock

15 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Writing Persuasive Content

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Brilliant Bloggers is a bi-weekly series here at NMX where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every other week, we’ll feature a brilliant blogger, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Writing Persuasive Content

I have a confession to make: I hate trying to convince people to do something.

I understand that this is an important part of marketing, but writing persuasive content has never been my strong suit. That is, if I’m persuading someone to do something that will benefit me. I think I can argue my own point well to persuade you that I’m right about something, but persuading you to buy something, download something, etc. has never come naturally to me.

Luckily, there are people out there who are insanely good at it, and they’ve shared what they know in blog posts. I hope this week’s edition of Brilliant Bloggers is as helpful to you as it has been to me!

Brilliant Blogger of the Week:

henneke 58 Ways to Create Persuasive Content Your Audience Will Love by Henneke Duistermaat

I love this post on Copyblogger because it gives you a roadmap to making sure that your content is as persuasive as possible without crossing any lines. Internet marketers get a bad name because there are so many people using slimy, gray-area techniques to convince others to spend money. Henneke’s post, however, doesn’t encourage you to do any of that. Her tips simply help you take your content and make it more persuasive.

After you read the post, which includes all you need to know from writing the headline to editing before you publish, check out Henneke on Twitter at @HennekeD and visit her blog, Enchanting Marketing. (Psst…she also has a great guest post on Kissmetrics about this topic called “7 Lessons Apple Can Teach Us About Persuasive Web Content“)

Even More Brilliant Advice:

  1. 11 Ways to Write Persuasive Content by Thomas Timely
  2. 48 Elements of Persuasive Written Content by Uttoran Sen (@uttoransen)
  3. How Do I Write Persuasive Content? by Jeff Hahn (@HahnPublic)
  4. How To Create A Persuasive Message To Motivate Your Audience by Aura Dozescu (@AuraDozescu)
  5. How to Write Persuasive Content? by Jeevan Jacob John (@JeevanMe)
  6. The Psychology Behind Persuasive Writing by Jani Seneviratne (@janiopt7)
  7. The Secret To Being Memorable And Persuasive by Joe Romm
  8. Ten Recipes for Persuasive Content by Colleen Jones
  9. Ten Timeless Persuasive Writing Techniques by Brian Clark (@copyblogger)
  10. What is Persuasive Content? by Ian Truscott (@IanTruscott)
  11. What’s more persuasive? “I think…” or “I feel…”? by Derek Halpern (@DerekHalpern)
  12. Writing a Persuasive Blog—The Key to Content Marketing Success by John McTigue (@jmctigue)
  13. Writing Persuasive Headlines with the FAB Formula by Julia McCoy (@expwriters)

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about writing persuasive content? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link.

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: Social Monitoring Tools

I’d love to include a link to your post in our next installment– and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

Blog Post Ideas: 5 Blog Topic Tips to Help You Create Unique Content

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blog topic tips Recently, I was asked an interesting question:

How do you consistently come up with blog post ideas and maintain a high quality?

I’ve written over 750 posts for this blog alone, not counting the post I’ve written for other clients and my own blogs. So how do I keep the blog ideas rolling? And more important, how do I ensure that I’m producing unique content, not just boring, unoriginal content you can find on any number of other blogs?

1. Blog Topics and Formulas

Wait…how can you come up with topic ideas that are unique and interesting if you use a formula? Believe it or not, you can! Instead of a traditional blog post formula, however, look to other forms of media for formulas that are super successful and adjust them to your needs. For example, I wrote about 10 Movie Plots That Can Help You Write Better Blog Posts. Look at formulas used by television shows, newsletters, magazines, speech writers, etc. They’re successful for a reason!

2. Getting Inspired

Sometimes, you just have to get the creative juices going a bit. If you’re feeling blocked, here are 12 Places to Find Inspiration for Your Next Blog Post.

3. One Post or Many Posts?

If you write a 1,000-word post that can be split into a two-parter, you’ve essentially done double the amount of work in the same amount of time. Not every post (even long posts) lend themselves to becoming two posts, but look at everything you write with a critical eye. Is your message getting watered down because you’re trying to cover too much at once?

You can even use your initial post idea as the jumping off point for a series.

4. Blog Topics at All Eduction Levels

When you brainstorm a list of blog topic ideas, you’re really brainstorming a double list, because you could write both a beginner-level and advanced-level post for each topic. This is also a great strategy to help you link internally more often.

5. Stay Organized and Passionate: The Blog Ideas Will Flow!

My biggest tip, at least if you’re someone who thrives on organization, is to keep a close handle on your editorial calendar and work schedule. For me, not keep regular working hours in the past led to an inability to come up with great ideas, in part because I lost my passion for the topic. So, even though I could sleep until noon if I want, I now work a semi-normal 9-5 schedule and really remain committed to the craft. My mind is more focused, so I’m able to come up with unique content ideas on a regular basis.

How do you come up with unique content ideas for your blog? Share with a comment!

Image Credit: Bigstock

Get More Long-Term Readers with the Soap Bubble Approach to Blogging

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getting more long-term readers

Traffic spikes can be exciting. It’s fun to watch a post go viral, especially if those new readers are also leaving comments. But when those people leave your blog, they often don’t come back. Getting more long-term readers is a lot harder than getting more traffic.

Ten long-term readers who will become a part of you blog community are better than 100 readers who read one post and never come back, though. It’s hard to grow your blog if you don’t build a solid foundation of readers who are addicted to your posts. One of the techniques I use to convert first-time readers into long-term readers is what I call the soap bubble approach to blogging.

Blog Structure for More Long-Term Readers

The net time you work up a lather in the bathtub or splash some suds on your dirty car, take a close look at structure of the soap bubbles. You’ll notice that it typically isn’t a collection of air pockets that are all the same size. Instead, you’ll see mostly small bubbles that make up the foam with occasional mid-sized and larger bubbles. The small soap bubbles are what creates the sudsy power, though. Without them, your larger bubbles aren’t very effective.

I find that a lot of bloggers are obsessed with creating epic content. I’m a firm believer that every single post you write should be your best work. However, not every post your write has to be a “big bubble.”

Big bubble content is typically long, evergreen content that is highly sharable and often a comprehensive list or guide to a certain topic. An example of big bubble content is this post: 58 Ways to Get Noticed as a New Blogger

But “small bubble” content is just as important. This kind of content is still high quality, but aims to teach a single tip or skill or cover a single topic. An example of small bubble content is this post: The #1 Best Way to Understand Your Audience—And Why This Matters for Your Content

Whenever you write a big bubble type of post, you should be able to link back to at least five other supporting posts on your blog. Think of your big bubble content as a hub for the small bubble content you’ve written in the past.

Why This Leads to More Long-Tem Readers

In general, I’ve found that if someone reads three posts from me, they are likely to come back and read my posts again and again. In many cases, people who read at least three posts are so hooked that they read several posts on your blog. They’ve discovered your content, and they can’t get enough.

Internal linking encourages them to read more content, but this isn’t just about making sure you link to previous posts in every blog post you write. It’s about making sure that you have related posts to support the epic content that is going to get the most attention. Super relevant posts that first-time readers can visit to learn more is going to be extremely enticing. Again, if you can get someone to read at least three posts on your blog, they will be much more likely to become a long term reader. A lower bounce rate definitely leads to a bigger community.

So, the next time you sit down to write a list post or an ultimate guide or another type of post that you know is going to bring in lots of traffic, ask yourself this question: Do I have a small bubble (supporting) post to go with each point I’m making?

If not, write one before you publish so any post that goes viral encourages people to read more instead of bouncing on to the next website.

12 Types of Content That Spread Fast

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12 Types of Content That Spread Fast

Everybody knows the more eyes that see your content, the better—That’s why it’s so important to craft content that spreads. Do you know what makes content shareable? Does your audience regularly pass along your email newsletter? Do they repost your status updates? Are you getting retweets? Knowing the difference between content that’s read and content that spreads is the secret to going viral. So to give you a leg up, here are the 12 types of content most likely to spread.

1. News: Breaking news is always attention-grabbing, if only because it’s new. People like to feel in the know. So give your readers something worth spreading by announcing a big change or update.

2. Memes: Memes are made to be spread. They may be photos, videos, tags, or other media, but they go viral quickly, making them the perfect social media tool. Wonder how a company or blogger can use memes to spread a message? Consider the following examples:

3. Photos: Beautiful, eye-catching, noteworthy photos do well on many forms of social media, from Pinterest to Facebook. In fact, according to some research, Facebook posts with an image generate 120% more response than posts without one. So to maximize your influence, post attractive images readers will want to share.

3. Photos with Text: Sharing a quote is powerful, but sharing a quote as an image is even more so. Overlay attractive photos with text you wish to share to maximize its power.

4. Infographics: Infographics take photos with text to the next level, as they showcase important statistics and/or research in an eye-catching way. Whether your infographic shows the top risk factors for a certain disease or the difference between organic and non-organic produce, if the information is relevant to your audience, they’ll be interested and want to share it.

5. Lists: From “5 tips to improve your golf swing” to “The 12 secrets to saving money on car insurance,” readers like lists. These resources typically attract attention and get shared.

6. How-To Articles: Everybody likes a good “how to” piece so write posts that show your audience, clearly and compellingly, how to do something. When your information helps them, they’ll want to tell their friends.

7. Vulnerable First-Person Stories: If you want to move people to action, touch their hearts. That’s the logic behind the power of vulnerable first-person stories on social media. When someone shares something vulnerable and raw, readers respond—just look at this blogger’s birth story that has over 3,000 comments and counting.

8. Negative Stories: It might seem unfortunate, but it’s true: People are fascinated by bad news. Write about the negative side of a topic, and watch how many people click to read it.

9. Research: Facts and figures are sharable because they’re hard to refute—Nothing proves a point faster than cold, hard data. Share studies and statistics when they’re relevant to what you do, and your audience will be listening and sharing.

10. Video: If there’s one thing YouTube has taught the world, it’s that people love video. The most shareable videos are attractive, thought-provoking, and unique.

11. Problem Solvers: This type of content goes back to knowing your audience: What do your followers need? What problems can you help them solve? When you provide an actual solution to a problem, you can bet they’ll appreciate it—and that they’ll want to spread the word.

12. Posts That Mention Other Bloggers: When you post a roundup of favorite links from across the Web, you do more than give your readers resources—You promote other bloggers who will often, in turn, promote you. Bloggers like to let their readers know where they’re mentioned—so mention them in your content, and they’ll want to pass it around.

What do you think? Have you tried all of these content types already? What have you found as a result? Could implementing these ideas help push your content farther into the world? Why not give them a shot?

20 Ways to Be More Creative on Your Blog

Author:

blog creativity

Between attempting to monetizing your content and trying to build your community, it’s easy to forget that at its core, blogging is an outlet for creativity. Yes, professional blogging allows you an avenue for educating, inspiring, and entertaining your readers, but it can also be a channel for you to explore your ideas about a topic in a creative way.

When’s the last time you infused a little creativity into a blog post?

The fringe benefit is that a bit of creativity creates a pattern interrupt. It isn’t just good for the soul; by doing something different, you give your readers a little jolt that can be extremely effective in sparking them back to life. That’s why humor is so popular. So much of what we read online is serious that something funny catches our attention.

Creativity isn’t just about being funny (though that can be one form). Here are some other tips to help you be more creative on your own blog:

1. Challenge yourself to imitate a blogger you admire.

Humans learn by intimidating, so one of the best ways to grow creatively is to emulate bloggers your respect. It seems like an oxymoron, that copying someone can help you be more creative, but the innovation comes from expanding your horizons and trying new things. (When imitating, remember to never cross the line into plagiarizing. Always respect others’ work.)

2. Get out of your comfort zone with content creation.

Do you usually write short posts? Write something longer. Does video scare the crap out of you? Record one instead of always posting text. The comfort zone is, well, comfortable, but doing something a little scary can help get the creative juices flowing.

3. Tell a personal story that you might not otherwise share.

Creativity comes in many forms, but one of the most underutilized is storytelling. Telling your story, especially a personal one that you wouldn’t normally share, can help you more creatively blog about a topic.

If you want to learn more about storytelling and creativity, I recommend this podcast from Get Storied.

4. Write about the opposing opinion.

It can be an awesome challenge to talk about the other side of a debate. Play devil’s advocate, even if you feel strongly about a specific topic. When you’re done, you might not what to publish your blog post if you stand strongly on the other side of the argument, but writing the opposite can help you strengthen your own argument. And you never know, you might expand your way of thinking. Questioning our own ways of thinking can help us grow.

5. Change your scenery.

Want to be more creative? Go outside. Or take your computer to your local coffee shop. Or even just work in another room. It’s amazing what a change of scenery can do for your creativity and productivity.

6. Get visual.

Usually, I start with a post idea and at the end, I find images to fit. When I want to get creative, I do things backward. I find an image that I think is beautiful or inspiring or interesting, and I try to write a post around it. An example? This post: “Blogging and the Candy Corn Problem.” While searching for an image for another blog post, I came across this shot of candy corn on a black background, which I thought looks striking, so I decided to get creative and think of a way to incorporate the idea of candy corn into a post about blogging.

7. Look for a connection between two seemingly-unrelated things.

Think about the things that inspire or interest you in life. For me, this happens when I learn something new. I like to share what I’ve learned with others. But what if it’s not related to my niche? How can I tie these two things together? Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but looking for these connections can help you get creative. Remember, you don’t have to publish every experimental post you write!

8. Open your mind about your own skills.

What are you really good at?

Okay, now what if I told you that everything you knew about that topic is wrong? Questioning your own skills and knowledge is a great way to think creatively about a topic. For example, this doctor gave a TED talk about how questioning his knowledge about diabetes helped him think about the problem in a new way. Be confident, but always ask questions, even of yourself.

9. Stop asking yourself how you’re going to monetize or drive traffic.

The pressure to make money or drive traffic to a blog can stifle your creativity, because we’re worried about failure. Give yourself permission to fail by not caring at all about the ROI of a post. Certainly, if you want to make money with your blog or are otherwise using it to support a business, ROI is import, but we occasionally need to let loose and simply be creative.

10. Take a risk.

Risk-taking is scary. Again, the fear of failure is very real and can be suffocating when you’re trying to be creative. Every once in a while, though, you have to take that leap of faith and just do something different. Put yourself out there and do something that just might be a flop. It’s okay to fail occasionally, because that’s how we learn and grow.

11. Do some mind-mapping.

I’m not a huge fan of brainstorming. There are actually studies that show this isn’t a super effective tool because there is no criticism (see the next point). However, mind-mapping is a different beast. With mind-mapping, you’re organizing your thoughts, which allows you to see holes in your place. It can help you pull some creative ideas out of those nooks and crannies of your brain.

Lifehacker has a really great post on five mind-mapping tools you can use to help you with this process. And check out the mind-mapping post we published in the past about your new media opinions.

12. Be critical of what you’re doing.

Brainstorming is supposed to give you a safe environment to dump everything you can think of onto a paper or whiteboard or whatever, no matter how bad your ideas may be. The thought is that if you aren’t inhibited by being worried that your ideas stink, you’ll come up with some great, creative ideas, even if most of what you brainstorm is crap.

Except this model for creativity doesn’t really work. What works better, according to some studies, is to freely brainstorm ideas, but to debate and critique these ideas as you go. So as you’re coming up with some creative ideas for blog posts, look at them with a critical eye. Or, better yet, work with a friend or a mastermind group to “brainstorm” some ideas, but using the debate model, where you think about each idea critically.

13. Consider Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats.

The Six Thinking Hats that de Bono wrote about can help you with thinking…and with being creative about your blog posts. These hats are:

  • White: the facts
  • Yellow: optimism, benefits
  • Black: judgement (devil’s advocate, see point #4)
  • Red: feelings, intuition
  • Green: possibilities, alternatives
  • Blue: management of the thinking process

The last hat, the blue one, is more about how the other five types of thinking work together, but take a look at what the white, yellow, black, red, and green hats represent. When you write a post, “put on” one of these hats and think about how you could rewrite differently. For example, if you wrote a highly emotional post (red), could you put on the white hat and go back to add in more facts? Or if you wrote a most about why something is great (yellow), could you go back into the post and address the downsides (black)?

You can learn more about the six thinking hats here.

14. Think about alternative realities.

It’s a lot of fun to play “What if…” Think of some crazy scenarios and write about them. For example, I wrote, “12 Ways Blogging Would Be Different Without Twitter.”

15. Solve a problem with limitations.

Sometimes, the best way to think outside of the box is to put yourself inside of the box. Set some crazy limitations for yourself and see what you come up with! For example, if the readers of your fashion blog could only buy black and white items, how would you suggest they add style to their wardrobe? Or if the readers of your food blog needed to prepare a satisfying vegan meal that the meat-eaters in the room would also enjoy AND that was low-carb, what would you suggest?

16. Practice.

Like anything, creativity takes practice. The first post you write might stink. That’s okay. Don’t publish it. Try again tomorrow!

17. Keep a journal and use note-taking tools.

Sometimes, a creative idea may come to you from an unlikely source. Once, I was at a Holocaust museum in Israel when I realized it would be the perfect feature for a post about storytelling. If I didn’t have Evernote to jot down my idea on the spot, I would have forgotten it by the time I got home. Instead, I ended up with the post, “Telling Your Brand’s Story: Historic Lessons and Modern Applications,” which I am very proud to have written.

There’s a great list of note-taking tools here, or go old school and get a journal!

18. Work with people from different backgrounds.

Blogging is often a lonely endeavor. But as writers, we can sometimes benefit from working with our peers. Lots of bloggers belong to mastermind groups, but I actually think you need to go a step farther. Get out there and work with some people who aren’t in your current circle of friends. Look for people who come from different backgrounds, like different countries/cultures, different niches, and different experience levels. Fresh eyes on your project (and lending your critiquing skills to their projects) helps everyone get more creative.

19. Work on projects that make you excited.

It’s hard to be creative if you couldn’t give a you-know-what about the blog post you’re writing. Stop what you’re doing and move on to a project that does make you excited.

20. Ask why.

I’ve found that when I question the norm, people get uncomfortable. But it also allows me to say, “I’m not going to take this rule at face value. I’m going to get creative and come up with another solution.” If everyone is saying there’s one best way to do something, question it.

Bonus Tip: Stop reading, thinking, and planning. Start doing.

To be creative, you need to get out of your head and start DOING. Stop thinking about how you can make your blog post more creative. Just try something. Don’t plan out every little detail or outline your post. Start writing.

And for heaven’s sake, stop reading this post. Get out there and start working!

Image Credit: Bigstock

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