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5 Ways to Know if Your Content Is Resonating with Your Audience

Author:
womancomputer

Every few months or so, I like to take a step back and analyze the content on my blog. I want to make sure I’m providing tips, news, entertainment and information that resonates well with my audience. There are both technical and non-technical ways to measure this. Some may seem obvious to you, but you haven’t taken the time to put the tip into practice, and some of these ways might be brand new to you.

Here are five ways to know if your content is resonating well with your audience.

Conduct a Poll

I really enjoy conducting polls both on my blog and on Facebook using their polls feature. I’ve found out some interesting things about what my readers are looking for that I may not be providing for them, things that they absolutely love, or even about content they don’t really care for.

Polls are super easy and quick to put together. I suggest offering no more than five answers to your question. For example, ask the simple question “Why do you enjoy visiting…?” and put the title of your blog there. I’ve done this before and provided answers such as reviews, giveaways, personal videos or deals. Not only do I ask them to participate in the poll, but I also ask if they would leave a comment explaining why they chose the answer they did. I have had great results this way and it has helped me narrow down my content.

For WordPress, I like using the WP-Polls plug-in. On Facebook, simply click on “Ask a Question” for your personal page or “Question” for your business page.

Email Your List of Subscribers

You do have subscribers right? If you answered no to that question because you haven’t added that feature to your blog, stop what you’re doing right now and visit my post “Six Things You Can Focus On Today to Increase Your Blogging Results”. I preach creating a list…yesterday.

This is also something I have personally done. Simply ask your subscribers what they like about your blog content and what they would like to see more of. Offering up a little incentive such as a free download of one of your eBooks or an Amazon gift card usually increases the number of people that will answer. Hey, we all like free stuff, right?

Check Your Social Networks

This might be a no-brainer, but if something you wrote really spoke to your audience and they absolutely loved it, don’t you think they’ll not only share it but say something about it? Don’t just check the number of Tweets and Likes you are receiving, check to see what they’re saying about your content. I would trade five tweets where no one said a thing about my article, for one where someone tweeted it but also said, “This is a must read” or “This is exactly the answer I was looking for.” This speaks loudly to your readers and potential readers.

Use the Power of Facebook Insights

This goes hand in hand with my previous tip, but it digs a little deeper. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of Facebook Insights, because we would be here all day long. You can read the Facebook Insights Guide which they call a “Product Guide for Facebook Page Owners” and get some in-depth information.

If you’re familiar with the new Facebook Insights roll-out, then you know on the left hand sidebar under “Likes” it says “People Talking About This”. This number is a great way to measure if your content is resonating with your audience because it speaks to engagement. This lets you know in a one week period how many people liked your page, posted to your page and mentioned, liked, shared or commented on a post of yours.

Just because a page has thousands of Likes, does not mean there is a good dose of interactions with the readers (engagement).

Facebook Insights is not only a great tool to measure the health of your Facebook page, but your blog content as well.

A Healthy Dose of Comments

It makes me sad when I visit a blog where they have the comments closed. (Does that make it a real blog then? Wait, that’s another discussion.) But when I visit a blog where there is a nice conversation flowing in the comments section, it makes me want to join in.

This tip may seem obvious to most of you, but I think all of us – whether we are brand new to this crazy world of blogging or if we’ve been doing it for ten years – need to take a step back and analyze the interaction. Are we interacting with our readers? Are they finding our content valuable enough to take a few minutes to leave a comment?

You can also get fantastic post ideas from comments your readers have left. Look for questions they asked or statements saying they wish you would write more of a certain type of article. If they are practically begging for more, then by all means, give them more!

How can you tell if your content is resonating well with your audience? Share some of your tips in the comment section below. Also feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you would like to see more of here on the BlogWorld blog. Are we resonating with you?

What Irish Drinking Songs Taught Me About Blogging

Author:

This weekend, my sister is visiting me from Pennsylvania (I live in the DC Metro area). I decided to take her to my favorite bar in town, which happens to be a Irish pub. While we sipped some drinks and caught up on life, we enjoyed some live music, including a few Irish drinking songs (of course).

The singer played a pretty wide variety of songs, and I noticed something commonly shared by the songs the audience seemed to like the best: They are interactive.

That’s a lesson we can learn about blogging as well. People love being able to interact.

Many Irish drinking songs are interactive because there’s some kind of audience call back line. In other words, the singer says a line and the audience yells something back in response. In a rowdy bar, this can be pretty fun! There are also songs that have hand motions, songs that require you to do a task (most commonly, take a drink), and more.

Here’s how this can translate to the blogging world, no alcohol required:

  • Ask your audience a question at the end of your blog post.

Like a call back line, ending your post with a question invites your readers to say something back to you. Sometimes, readers have to be encouraged to respond to your posts, especially if you don’t have a normally vocal crowd. Try getting people warmed up with some topics that are highly controversial, in the same way the performer at the bar warmed up the audience with some old favorites like Sweet Caroline. Don’t bait your readers, but make it easy to comment with a post that elicits an emotion. As your readership grows, you’ll start getting responses to other blog posts as well – but it always helps to ask that question or at least remind people that they can leave a comment.

  • Teach them the words.

Inactive songs are pretty useless if no one knows the words or hand motions. The performer at my pub always tests the water a little to see how savvy the audience is. If there are a lot of people there who know the correct responses, he just plays the song. If not, he gives the audience a little tutorial or even invites someone (usually someone who’s already had a few beers) to the stage to help him and lead the audience.

Similarly, you have to “teach your readers the words”. When someone new shows up on your blog, they don’t know the lingo or where to start. If you don’t give them a little guidance until they find their way, they’ll leave. So consider making a “best of” page or “new users start here” page. If you have weekly or monthly features with unique names, explain at the beginning of these posts what they are (one or two short sentences should do). Link to some related posts at the end of each post or throughout. Until your readers know your site like the back of their hands, they need your help!

  • Make people smile and then encourage them to pull out their wallets.

One of the songs the guitarist at my pub sings almost every time I see him is “Piano Man” – I know, it’s a funny song for a guitarist to sing, but I understand why he does. He never leads with this song. He waits until the bar gets pretty full, sings a few crowd-pleasers, and then starts strumming Billy Joel. Why? Well, if you don’t know the song, there’s a line that goes: “And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar” – in other words, all the people at the bar tip him. Whenever he sings that, he stops and goes “AHEM” and sings the line again. It always gets a laugh, but you know what? At least two or three people run up and stick money in his tip jar.

This would get annoying if he did it all the time, but by that point in the night, everyone’s had some drinks, and we know we like this guy. He’s played some of our favorite songs, he’s made us laugh, and we’re having a good time. So of course we respond with tips. On your blog, it’s the same idea – let readers get to know you. Entertain them (or teach them something – preferably both) and then when they’re happy and know they like you, ask for their money. Don’t be afraid of the ask. It can get annoying if you beg or encourage them to buy too often, but if you never do, they might not remember.

Is Your Blog Like Chinese Food?

Author:

Pork fried rice. Sweet and sour chicken. Wonton soup. Mmmm. Chinese food is delicious, and believe it or not, it can teach you a few things about blogging. Is your blog like Chinese food? Here’s why you might want to consider this cuisine as you’re adding content:

  • Something for Everyone

One of the reasons I love ordering Chinese food with friends is that there’s something for everyone. When you order pizza or subs, you have fewer options and there’s always someone not happy. With Chinese food, you have a huge variety of treats from which to choose, and everyone can order something that they enjoy. Most Chinese restaurants even have healthier options for those who are dieting. Does you blog have something for everyone? Of course, you won’t connect with every person in the world (that would be a crazy blog), but within your specific target market, there are going to be a lot of different tastes. If you rely on just one type of post (like just list posts or just rants), you’re not going to appeal to as many people. Make sure your target is focused, but don’t make it so focused that your audience is too small.

  • Keep Them Coming Back

One of the complaints that lots of people have about Chinese food is that you’re hungry again an hour later. Is that true? Maybe…but for bloggers, this is a good thing! You want great content, but you also want to always leave them always wanting more. Include related links at the end and links within the body to keep readers on your site. Encourage readers to sign up for your mailing list or subscribe to your RSS feed. Clearly link to your social media profiles on your sidebar and make sure you promote you content on these platforms. Most importantly, make sure every single post you write is awesome. It only takes one “meh” post to make a reader decide they don’t need to come back to your site.

  • Easy to Find

No matter where you live, you can find Chinese food. Heck, even at my mom’s house, which is located in a super rural area with less than 100 people in the entire town, you can get to a Chinese restaurant pretty quickly. Make your content similarly easy to find. You want to create a presence for yourself so that others are mentioning you and your name just pops up in conversations related to your niche. Attend offline conferences (like BlogWorld LA of course). Do guest posts on other sites in your niche. Write content that can easily be linked by other bloggers. Get people excited about what you’re doing so that your name just starts to just appear everywhere. You want people to be like, “Oh, I’ve heard of him/her…” even if they can’t rattle off your bio (yet).

So those are my three tips for the day. How is your blog like Chinese food?

How to Write a Rant that People Want to Read

Author:

We all rant sometimes.

Some of us do it online for the world to see. Some of us do it in the privacy of our friends and family. But the fact of the matter is that everyone gets emotionally angry from time to time. There’s nothing wrong with it. If you’re compelled to blog when you’re in a rant-y mood, though, I think it is important to make sure you’re engaging your community, not driving them away as you flick them the middle finger. Rants can be awesome for traffic, but there can also be a fall out. If you’re going to rant, make sure you write something people actually want to read. Here’s how:

Actions versus People

When you write a general rant about an individual or even a group, you look like a big meanie. You don’t have to agree with every single person out there, but most rants about people come off as attacks, not lively debates. Personally, I just don’t think there are many reasons you should burn those bridges. If you wouldn’t be comfortable standing up on the BlogWorld stages and yelling,  “So-and-so is a jerk!” don’t say it online either. If you don’t agree with someone, don’t be shy about your opinions…but save the rants instead for actions.

It’s true – when you rant about actions, you typically have someone in mind. And I definitely encourage people to name names when blogging about someone. However, there’s a difference between saying that you don’t like someone’s actions and that you don’t like someone period.

When you talk about actions, it also makes it easier for your readers to relate. They probably have been annoyed by the same actions by other people, even if they don’t know the person you’re ranting about. It also makes it easier to open up the topic for debate. If you rant about a person and one of your readers disagrees with you, they might stay silent for fear of being attacked as well. When you’re ranting about an action instead, readers can more easily inject their opinion without as much worry that you (or your community) will turn on them just for disagreeing.

“Duh” Rants

Sometimes, I read what is supposed to be a passionate rant and at the end, the only thing I can think is, “Well duh…”

There are certain things everyone hates. These topics are the constant content of blog rants, but when you aren’t really adding anything new to the conversation, what is the point? It’s your blog, of course, and if you need to get something off your chest, do it. Just be cautious as to how much of your content is self-serving versus how much is actually interesting to readers. Keep the ratio in check.

Bringing Attention to a Company

The best rants, in my opinion, are those that don’t attack a person or even an action, but rather a company;s policies. As consumers, I think it is our duty to point out when a company is doing a crap job. Rants help other customers know that their experience wasn’t isolated and you get the added benefit of warning others before they spend their hard-earned dollars.

When ranting about a company, however, make sure you’re fair. If you’re going to rant about a company’s customer service, for example, talk to at least two people – one bad employee is a mistake, but two in a row is rarely a coincidence. Or, if you order a product and it arrives broken, send an email and allow the company to respond, sending you a new one or refunding your money. In other words, before you rant, allow the company to correct the problem. Everyone makes mistakes, and I don’t think it’s fair or intelligent to rant over an isolated incident that the company is happy to correct.

And always remember that there are real people behind businesses. Whatever you’re ranting about is someone’s fault, and there’s a good chance that they’ll read your blog post, especially if it gets popular. Again, it goes back to attacking actions, not people.

In-the-Moment Emotion

When something ticks you off, it’s easy to feel emotional. I call it in-the-moment emotion – fleeting feelings of frustration that are often blown way out of proportion. Now is a great time to write about something because your post will be filled with passion. It’s not such a great time to hit the publish button.

If you’ll calm down after an hour, will you regret whatever you just wrote? Remember, once something is out there online, you can’t take it back. Even if you delete the post, it is still out there. So, give it at least an hour before you publish your rant, and if the material isn’t time-sensitive, give it at least 24 hours.

Something else to consider – how angry is your post in terms of word choice? Last week at #BWEchat, we talked to Jason Falls and Marcus Sheridan about cursing in blog posts and on social media. Whether you’re for or against, I think we can all agree that when we’re mad about something, the language can sometimes be a little stronger than we otherwise have on our blog. This can be part of what makes a rant great. Can be. If you go overboard, the language you use could turn off your readers, even if they were initially interested in your rant and agree with you. When you calm down a little, you can reread your rant to make sure the language is refined. That doesn’t mean you have to take out the sailor language – it just means that you can clearly decide what words you really want to use.

Logic Rules All

Lastly, make sure that your post is logical. I hate reading rants when I don’t know the back story and can’t figure out why the person is so mad. Even though rants are emotional, they should also make sence. Give me a compelling argument so I feel as emotionally connected to the story as you do. Now is not the time to be brief. I want the full story, including details.

In most cases, I personally think that it also makes sense for you to add “solutions” as part of your rant. What could have been done differently? What can be done now to help ease your pain? How can others avoid finding themselves in the same situation? No one ever said a rant can’t be helpful.

And be prepared. Most rants drive traffic, so people are going to respond, either on your site or off. If your post is logically sound, it shouldn’t be hard to debate with your readers.

Have you ever ranted on your blog? Was the result good or bad? What’s the best rant you’ve ever read from another blogger?

Are You Too Smart For Your Readers?

Author:

Wow, that title sounds pretty pretentious, right! Let’s be realistic though. In life, some people are going to be smarter than you. Likewise, you’re gong to be smarter than some people. So, no matter who your readers are, you’re going to be smarter than some of your readers. That’s actually a good thing if you’re putting yourself in an authoritative position.

The other day, I was watching Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking. The concepts discussed on that show are interesting to me, but normally way over my head. I don’t understand things like wormholes. But this show perfectly displays how you can – and should – avoid being too smart for your readers.

Into the Universe is shown on the Discovery Channel. Now, if you combine everyone who watches television, people who watch the Discovery Channel are probably smarter than average. I don’t have any stats to back that up, but I think it’s a pretty safe theory to make. Furthermore, if you combine everyone who watches the Discovery Channel, people who are interested in the topics discussed by Stephen Hawkins are probably smarter than the average Discovery Channel watcher. So, you’re already starting with a pretty smart base.

That’s step one – know your reader. It’s not always a matter of intelligence, but rather experience. Are your readers advanced bakers? Then you can post more difficult recipes. Are your readers brand new gardeners? Then you better start with the basics of growing tomatoes! Take a moment to understand your reader’s natural abilities based on experience and intelligence.

Those who’ve created Into the Universe know that their viewers are likely pretty smart and might even have a little experience with the topics they discuss, since smarter viewers are more likely to have a college education, where these topics are often covered, even if you don’t have a scientific job. Yet, they know that Stephen Hawkins is an authority. He’s placed himself in that sort of position at the host of this show, so if he just starts talking as though he’s talking to a peer who has as much experience as him, we’ll all probably be lost.

Yet we’re smart, so he doesn’t insult us by shying away from difficult topics. Your readers are likely pretty smart too. So, don’t shy away from advanced topics. Just realize their limits.

On Into the Universe, for example, they use images to visually show what they’re talking about. In addition, they use “dumbed down” examples to explain concepts step by step. If you approach a complex topic that way, you can ensure that you’re not going way over readers’ heads, but you’re also not insulting them or boring them by only covering super simple topics.

One of the things I like to do on blogs is write some 101-level posts and link to them within more advanced posts. That way, you’re making your blog approachable to all readers. The key is to not be “too smart.” Again, this doesn’t alway mean more intelligence. Just realize that not everyone is in your head or knows what you’re talking about. Sometimes, I see bloggers refer to situations that I didn’t know happened, for example. Rather than explaining (or linking to a post about what happened), they just start talking as if we all know. We don’t all know. It makes me feel a little stupid when I come across something like that.

And when you make your readers feel stupid, they might not be back.

So, the moral of the story is that when you write your posts, consider who will be reading it. Make sure that you’re writing for your readers, not for yourself. Remember, you aren’t necessarily your target market, and although you may have been doing this for a long time, your readers might not be quite as experienced.

Oprah: “Know Your Viewer”

Author:

This morning, MSNBC was on the television in the background as I was doing some work, and Oprah was one of the guests on Morning Joe. I wasn’t really paying attention to the interview, but I did catch something that she said that made me want to shout, “YES!” She was talking about why she became so successful and why she has been so successful for so long. I didn’t jot it down word for word, but it essentially boiled down to this:

Oprah is her audience. More so than even her produces or other staff members, she is able to put herself in the shoes of her audience members, so she can give them what they want. Above all, if you want to be successful, you have to know your viewer.

Pretty good advice, right? I would go a step farther and say that you have to be your viewer (or, in the case of bloggers, reader). If you wouldn’t read your content, if you find it boring and repetitive, if you are left with feelings of “meh,” why should anyone else care?

For a long time, one of the mistakes I made as a blogger was that I tried to emulate other successful blogs, even though these were blogs that I didn’t necessarily read for whatever reason. I wrote posts that were certainly informative and sometimes even interesting, but they lacked passion and style – and that showed. I wasn’t interested in being a member of my own community, so others weren’t really interested either.

So I took a good look at my blog and thought, “What would I want to read if I came to this blog?” And I started writing that, even though it was personal and goofy and unlike what a lot of the more successful blogs in my niche were doing, I’ve seen more growth since taking this approach in a month than I had in the six months prior combined. I became a member of my audience, and suddenly, I actually had an audience.

I think this can be difficult to do, since what is most relevant in our own lives is…well…our own lives. Sometimes, bloggers tend to get too personal. This is where I think Oprah reigns it in well where other talk show hosts *cough*Tyra-Banks*cough* fail. Oprah does tell her personal story when relevant, but she doesn’t lose site of the point of her show – to help the viewer and guests. She doesn’t just get up on a stage every day and talk about her herself. If you want to do that, have a hobby blog. But on your tech blog or your political blog or your fashion blog, we don’t need to know that your kid is sick and you’re planning on having tuna for lunch. Otherwise, you may be a member of your own audience, but you’ll be the only member!

Still, it pays to take some time to read your own blog and ask yourself this question: “If I didn’t write this, would I be a regular reader?” It’s a hard question to answer sometimes, because we don’t want to admit that the answer is no. Think about how successful Oprah has become, though. She might not be a blogger, but she certainly understands community and building a following. If her biggest piece of advice for success is “become a member of your own audience,” I’m going to take it!

Photo: Alan Light

If Your Blog were a Magazine… (part 1)

Author:

Something I’ve noticed quite interestingly over the past few months is that the best bloggers out there, at least in my opinion, take a very magazine approach to blogging. The print world might be dying, but we do have a ton we can learn from this more traditional form of media. After all, at the end of the day, it’s all about getting your message out there and gaining more subscribers, which are the same goals as magazines.

Some things to consider:

Design

It really ticks me off when a blogger puts no thought into his/her design. That doesn’t mean that I’ll automatically hate you if you have a minimalist look to your blog. Minimalism is a design aesthetic. But you can’t tweak the colors of an out-of-the-box theme? Or add a non-pixalated header? Or make sure that the items on your sidebar actually fit instead of overlapping onto your content? It’s just lazy. I know there are some bloggers out there who have basically given design the middle finger and preach that content is all that matters, but you know what? I don’t read those blogs. Seriously, I don’t. And they point to the fact that ha, I don’t care about design and I still have a million readers per month. Well think how many  more readers you would have if you did care about design, jackass.

Education in a New Way

We always make fun of magazines like Cosmopolitan for essentially repeating the same 100 or so sex tips in every issue, just repackaging it in a different way. This month it’s 101 hot ways to please your man and next month it’s 99 bedroom tricks that will blow his mind and the month after it’s 100 moves that will make him moan…but essentially, almost all of the tips are the same, just repackaged.

But we shouldn’t make fun of Cosmo when we pretty much do the same things as bloggers, just not a well most of the time. Think about the last 10 articles you wrote. How many of them were truly new concepts or ideas? Probably one or two at most. Maybe none. It was information that could be found other places online, maybe even in your own archives, but it was information that your readers needed, so you published it. That’s great – but did you repackage it to make it interesting? So many bloggers out there are boring. It isn’t that they don’t have good ideas about topics that are valuable. They just fail to actually entertain me by presenting the information in a new way.

Subscription Marketing

When you pick up a copy of your favorite magazine at the grocery store, approximately how many subscription cards are inside? Roughly three to four thousand, right? That’s because the magazine knows that if you subscribe, they’ve got you for a year, where as if it is up to you pick up the magazine every month, you’ll likely drop the ball. They also know that you probably won’t fill out the first subscription card that falls out of the pages. Or the second. Or the third. They know that it has to be drilled into someone’s head that they should subscribe if they like the content, mostly because we’re all lazy by nature and think repeatedly “I’ll do it later.”

On some blogs, I have a hard time finding the RSS button. Even more often, I don’t see a email subscription list, or if you do have one, it is hidden. Why – WHY – are your subscription tools not prominent on your sidebar? Heck, I put them at the end of my posts as well. You have to smack readers in the face with what you want them to do sometimes.

As I’m writing this post, I realize that I have a lot more to say about blogging like a magazine than show go into a single post. So, check back later for part 2  of If Your Blog were a Magazine… for some more tips we can take from print media!

27 Bloggers Talk about Writing Better Headlines

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One of the most oft-mentioned topics on blogs about blogging is how to write a great headline. The right headline makes your post more likely to be shared on social media, attracts more links, optimize your website for search engines, and end world hunger. There are so many resources out there, yet people still ask me for tips all the time. You all have said things that are much smarter and more interesting than I could ever hope to say – so here’s a round up of what the best bloggers out there are saying about writing awesome headlines:

Am I missing your link or a link from someone you love? Leave a comment below to be part of the conversation!

  1. 65 Exciting Words to Spice up Your Blog Headlines at Blogussion by Alex, @afrais
  2. All You Need To know About Good Headline Creation that Work at 1st Web Designer by Rean John Uehara, @ueharataichou
  3. Blog Content Tip – Titles are Everything at Problogger by Darren Rowse, @problogger
  4. Do Your Readers Trust You? On Headline Trickery at For Bloggers, By Bloggers by Judy Dunn, @CatsEyeWriter
  5. Down with Deb Ng! Headline Writing 101 at Freelance Writing Jobs by Terreece M. Clarke, @Terreece
  6. Everything You Need To Know About Writing Blog Headlines at DavidRisley.com by David Risley, @davidrisley
  7. Headline Writing for PPC Ads: Dos and Don’ts at Word Stream by by Elisa Gabbert
  8. Headline v. Content: Does the Carpet Match the Drapes? at Kommein by Deb Ng, @debng
  9. How Important Are Blog Headlines? at Digital Marketing Content Agents by Greg Taylor, @grt2studios
  10. How to Write Kickass Blog Post Titles at Netchunks by Shiva Chettri, @netchunks
  11. How to Write Magnetic Headlines (11-part series) at Copyblogger by Brian Clark, @Copyblogger
  12. How to Write Quality Query Letters: Write a Great Headline at PoeWar by John Hewitt, @poewar
  13. Movie Titles Can Teach You to Write Better Title Tags and Headlines at PaperStreet by Pete Boyd, @peteboyd
  14. Please, Please, Please Write Informative Headlines at Poynter by Steffen Fjaervik
  15. Presure was Just too Great to Write a Good Headline About Good Headlines at Poynter by David Michelmore
  16. Secrets to Writing Good Headlines Guaranteed to Increase Traffic at Little Books with a Big Message by Julia M Lindsey, @ourlittlebooks
  17. The Key To Attention-Getting Headlines at Empowered Online Entrepreneurs byElmar Sandyck, @ElmarSandyck
  18. The Secret To Driving Blog Traffic at Social Media Explorer by Jason Falls, @jasonfalls
  19. The Secret to Writing Effective Headlines That Will Get Your Blog Posts Read at Meet Freddy Rodriguez by Freddy Rodriguez, @imcoachfreddy
  20. The Sexy Art of Writing Headlines that Kill at Freelance Switch by Leo Babauta @zen_habits
  21. Three SEO Healting Writing Tips at Freelance Writing Jobs by Terreece M. Clarke, @Terreece
  22. Using Numbers in Headlines: Is the Game Changing? at The Blog Herald by Andrew G.R., @jobacle
  23. What’s Even More Important Than a Well Written Headline? at Chrisg.com by Chris Garrett, @chrisgarrett
  24. Writing Headlines for Social Media or Search Engines at DavidRisley.com by David Risley, @davidrisley
  25. Writing killer home page headlines at The Writer’s Bloc by Dave Kramer, @TheWritersBloc
  26. Writing Website Content Headlines at Men with Pens by James Chartrand, @menwithpens

Ok, Ok…I wrote one too: Headlines Mean Nothing If Your Don’t Deliver – so that brings our total to 27 posts about blog headlines. Each have a few tips, so that’s easily over 100 opinions about writing better headlines. Whew. I’m going to file this one under the category “New Media News & Education” because if that isn’t enough education to keep you busy for the rest of the week, i don’t know what is!

(For the record, I listed posts in alphabetical order, not in some kind of ranking order.)

Over to you: link us to your post about headlines or give us your best headline tip.

Overheard on #Blogchat: Being Unique (@YesVictory)

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Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night (or Monday morning), I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Open Mic! (any topic goes)

Because #blogchat was “open mic” tonight, it was a bit like organized chaos, with a number of different conversations happening throughout the evening. One of the tweets that stood out to me was about the content of your blog:

@YesVictory: Be unique. There are too many copy cats in the world already

I don’t think there’s a single person out there who raises their hand and says, “Yes! I would like you to be a boring copy of a blog I already read! Sign me up for your mailing list while you’re at it!”

So why is it such a problem?

We all want to be successful, so it makes sense to learn from those who already are successful. And when we do learn from the already-successful bloggers, what do they tell us? Generally, tips and techniques that have worked for them. Write titles this way like I do. Structure your posts this way like I do. Design your blog this way like I do…

Here’s the challenge I have for you, though: Describe your blog to me in one to two sentences. Good. Now, could that short description be used to describe any other blog out there? If so, you’re doing it wrong.

But in an overcrowded niche, how is that possible without getting so specific that your blog doesn’t have potential for a huge audience? One word: YOU.

People come to your blog to see you. If your topic has been done before, that’s okay. You have opinions that another blogger doesn’t have. You have stories about your life to tell, and these aren’t stories that any other bloggers have. It doesn’t matter if you use every single technique that another blogger uses. That isn’t what makes you a copy cat. What makes you a copy cat is the fear to be yourself – the idea that you have to be someone else to succeed.

Go back to the exercise I suggested earlier – describing your blog on a sentence or two. Now add yourself to the equation, if you haven’t already. That’s what makes you unique. That’s how you work into a niche, elbowing your way through the crowds to find your readers. It takes work and dedication. If you want to make money, it takes a good business plan and market research. But mostly, it takes you. You-nique. You don’t need to copy someone else if you aren’t afraid to be yourself.

Overheard on #Blogchat: Controversy (@hugmeup)

Author:

With all the BlogWorld Expo work I’ve been doing, I haven’t had time for Overheard on #Blogchat for a few weeks. Glad to be back this week!

Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night, I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Generating interest in your NEW blog

While at BlogWorld Expo 2010, Chris Garrett and Darren Rowse both mentioned that polarizing topics on your blog can help drive traffic. On tonight’s #blogchat, a similar topic was mentioned.

hugmeup: I’ve noticed that controversial topics gain a lot of interest quickly

Controversy can definitely be good for your traffic. But is it good for your blog? Consider the following:

  • Is the topic going to pit your readers against you?

Chris and Darren talked about polarizing topics, but that’s not necessarily the same as controversy. Polarizing is controversial, but the opposite isn’t always true. If you have a political blog and talk about pro choice versus pro life, that’s a polarizing topic. If you say that you support killing babies, you’re not going to get support from any of your readers – that’s just controversial. It’s not that I think you shouldn’t speak your mind, but if you’re trying to foster community, you don’t want to pit yourself against your audience.

  • Do you know the facts?

If you’re going to get controversial, make sure you have the facts straight. Trust me; on the Internet, if you’re wrong or even incomplete in the information you present, your readers will let you know. And most of them aren’t very nice about it. Cite as many sources as possible and think ahead to the debates you’ll have to face so you’re prepared to defend your position.

  • Are you controversial for controversy’s sake?

Posting something controversial can drive a lot of traffic, but if that’s your sole motivation, you’re not doing anything good for your blog. Believe in what you post. Otherwise, you’re not providing quality to readers, and eventually, they’ll figure out that you’re a fake.

  • Is the topic relevant to readers?

A few months ago, the WordPress/Thesis debate was definitely a controversial topic that many blogs covered, including this one. But did I post about it on the video game blog I manage? Nope. Sure, some of our readers might be interested, but does it make sense to further our blog? Not at all. If you’re really passionate about a controversial topic that doesn’t exactly fit your blog, think about guest posting instead! You’ll still drive some traffic to your site, but you can write something for a more relevant audience.

I’m someone who doesn’t shy away from controversy. Often, what I post here and on my other blogs is in direct conflict of the popular opinion. Do I do it for the traffic? I’d be lying if I said that it doesn’t cross my mind. Strong opinions are usually extremely good for traffic, and that’s definitely something you should take into consideration. Just make sure that your controversial posts have a purpose beyond cheap hits. Otherwise, the traffic spike will be just that – a spike, not sustained traffic.

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