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The Bookend Blog-Writing Technique


If you’re like most writers, you’ve lost many mornings staring at an empty screen—but it doesn’t have to be this way. Whether you’re looking for a way to stay motivated or for the secret to adding punch to your blog posts, here’s a solution you might not have considered: bookending.

Bookending Basics

What Is Bookending?

Bookending is all about the order in which you write your posts. It means writing the end, then the beginning and finally the middle. While helpful for blogging, it’s also applicable in every kind of writing context, from magazines to screenplays to short stories.

Why Does Bookending Work?

Sometimes the hardest part of writing is knowing where you’re going. With bookending, you start with the end—so you always have a sense of what you’re working towards. Once you know where you’re headed, it’s easier to know how to get started. Then, all that’s left is filling in the remainder


The Bookending Blog Process

When you’re new to the bookending technique, it can feel daunting. You know you start with the ending, but how? And does it matter what your beginning is like? What about the middle? Here’s a more in-depth look at the different parts of the bookending process:

Writing the End of Your Post

Writing the ending first is all about knowing where you’re going with your post. It’s like getting in the car, knowing you’re leaving Chicago, bound for Texas—you automatically know to point your wheels south.

Discerning Your Direction

In her previous BlogWorld article, Allison Boyer says, “Before you start writing (or staring at a blank screen wondering what to write), take a moment to identify a broad goal for the post you’re about to publish.”

In taking that moment, you may want to ask yourself questions like these:

  • What do I want my readers to feel or think after reading this post?
  • What do I want them to take away?
  • Do I want them to do something after reading?
  • What difference will this post make to my readers?

Answering these questions will help clarify the goal of your post, which will show you what the ending should look like.

Knowing the direction of your post brings several benefits:

  • Easier post writing because there’s a specific outcome in mind
  • Less of a tendency to wander or get off track in the post
  • Assurance that you’re writing something with purpose
  • Increasing loyalty among readers who see this pattern in your posts

Writing the Ending

Once you’ve settled what kind of message you want to share in your post, it’s time to write the ending. If you’re stuck for ideas, reach into your writer’s toolbox and consider creating an ending that takes the form of one or more of the following options:

  • Summary: Drive home your point by reiterating and summarizing it at the end of your post.
  • Story: Amplify your message with an anecdote sure to connect with readers—this can be a powerful way to keep them thinking about your post even after they click away.
  • Question(s): Encourage discussion by finishing your post with open-ended questions that ask your readers to respond.
  • Call to action: Give your readers a specific way to respond to your post—ask them to share it, tell them to subscribe, give them a task to go complete as a result.
  • Link: Conclude your post by pointing to other helpful resources that support your topic, whether newspaper articles or other blog articles or books.
  • Hint at Next Post: Tell your readers what’s coming next in order to keep them interested and build anticipation. This is especially helpful when you’re writing a series of blog posts.


Writing the Beginning of Your Post

The beginning of a blog post is like a first impression—it sets the tone for what’s coming. When you’re writing the beginning, you want to be intentional about what you’re communicating.

Key to Beginning

A good blog post can begin in many different ways: a story, a summary, questions. But no matter which format you choose, one thing is the same: you need to pull readers in and communicate what your post is going to be about. As Erik Johnson writes in his previous BlogWorld post, “When you want your listeners to stick around and listen to what you have to say, you need to give them a compelling reason.”

Questions to Ask

To test your introduction for quality, ask the following questions:

  • Is the first sentence interesting?
  • Will this introduction draw readers in?
  • Am I communicating what the post will be about?
  • Is this short and sweet, or am I rambling?
  • Does this tell a reader why he should keep reading?

Writing the Middle of Your Post

While your introduction sets the stage for the content to come, the middle of your post delivers it. This section should be the easiest to write because it is the heart and soul of what you’re trying to communicate. Still though, it’s easy to lose readers if you make classic mistakes.

How to Drive Readers Away

  • Don’t meet expectations: If your introduction says you’re going to give me five reasons for visiting Milwaukee, your blog post better give me five reasons to visit Milwaukee. When you don’t deliver on your promise, you send me packing.
  • Be long and boring: We’ve all gone to blogs with too-long posts that ramble on and on about off-topic issues. Don’t make this mistake. To keep readers, it’s smarter to be to-the-point.
  • Don’t be different: Say what everyone else is saying, and I have no reason to come to you.
  • Overwhelm them: Here’s a tip that bears repeating—get rid of popups and auto-playing music. If I start reading your post and am hit with giant popups that cover the screen, I’m clicking away before I find out what you wrote.

Characteristics of Quality Content

Okay, so when you know what not to do, then what? What are the marks of good content (i.e., good middles)?

  • Show What’s in It for the Reader: From the end to the beginning and everything in between, have something to offer your readers. Show them why they should be reading and what the information matters.
  • Be Unique: Set yourself apart by being different from everybody else. Don’t copy the content and style of another blog—be unique.
  • Use Compelling Images: Images amplify your content and make it more interesting. In fact, quality images are one of the top three factors in raising your blog’s quality and reputation.
  • Make Your Content Scannable: Statistics show blog readers spend less than two minutes reading the average blog post. That’s because they’re not reading; they’re scanning. If your message gets buried inside several long paragraphs, you can count on most of your readers not getting it.

Bookending is a pretty simple idea—but a powerful one. How could it change the way you approach the blogging process? Is it different from your typical routine?

How to Give Your Audience Time to Digest Your Content


digesting content Last week, I posted my opinion that “blog when you have something to say” is bad advice. Unsurprising, a little debate about how often one should post is going on in the comments of that post. This is a debate that has raged for years and will likely continue for years to come.

But while people often talk about how often you should create content in order to keep readers engaged, what we should be talking about as well is how you should schedule content to avoid overwhelming your fans. When you publish too much content, your audience doesn’t always have time to digest it. So how can you ensure that you don’t post too often?

  • Stick to a schedule.

When people get overwhelmed by your content, it’s typically not because you’re posting too much, but rather that you’re posting too much unexpectedly. If you don’t post for two weeks and then suddenly post three times in a single day, your readers are thrown off kilter. Similarly, if you typically have three new podcast episodes per month and suddenly you have three in one week, your listeners probably haven’t set time aside to listen to all that content. Sometimes, extra content sneaks in; it is important to be timely when dealing with a news story. But most of the time, it’s important to set expectations with your readers by sticking to a general schedule. People subconsciously plan when they’ll digest your content, so you don’t want to mess up that plan they’ve made.

  • Mix up your content.

If you’re worried about posting too much content, think about the type of content you’re uploading. Maybe you do a video one day and an in-depth written piece the next. Maybe your 3,000 word post is surrounded by shorter pieces. Maybe your make a podcast available for download, but offer a transcript the next day. People like to digest different kinds of content, so mixing things up and giving them options makes your content more inviting than day after day of the same thing.

  • Set the bar high for quality.

Lastly, I think it’s important to challenge yourself to raise the bar on your content. People will make time to digest whatever brain food you set in front of them if that food tastes like it is from a five-star restaurant. I hope that if you’re reading this post you realize the importance of good quality, but we all get lazy sometimes. Push yourself to create better content more often. If you can do that, your audience won’t be overwhelmed; they’ll be begging for more.

Want to set the bar higher for yourself? Join us at NMX in Vegas this January to learn more about content creation online.

12 Rut-Busting Productivity Tips [Infographic]


As content creators, I think we all sometimes struggle with productivity. It’s easy to fall into a rut and feel uninspired, perhaps even totally burned out. It happens to everyone, no matter how prolific you are online.

In this inforgraphic by Noomii, you’ll learn some great steps you can take to get content production back on track. Noomii writes, “Getting out of a rut can be a challenge unless you implement some realistic strategies to help put you on the right path.” Check out these 12 tips:

12 rut busting tips

What’s your best tip for getting out of a rut and starting to create content again? Leave a comment below!

This infographic is brought to you by Noomii, an online directory of business, life, and career coaches. You can find a life coach in Boston as well as thousands of other cities around the world.

Creating Content that Sings: Three Questions Every Blogger, Podcaster, and Web Series Producer Should Ask


La-la-la-la-la. Are you warmed up? Don’t worry; my advice to you isn’t to record yourself singing for your fans. If you’re anything like me, doing that isn’t going to help your traffic! You can let your content sing, though. As you’re creating your blog posts, podcasts, or videos, ask yourself the following three questions:

Does My Content Have Rhythm?

Songs only sound pleasant if the rhythm makes sense. That’s why when you hear a cover of a song you love and the band is playing it too fast or too slow, it sounds weird. If you’re content can’t keep the beat, it’s going to sound equally weird.

What does having rhythm mean?

It means that your content flows. If you’re a podcaster or producing videos of any sort, it means you don’t have a lot of “ums”or awkward silences. If you’re a blogger, it means that your sentences flow well and that you have an interesting style of writing. It also means that your post is well-formatted for an online reader.

Typically, rhythm isn’t something you notice until it is “off.” Luckily, it’s pretty easy to fix rhythm with some editing. You just have to avoid being lazy. If you say to yourself, “This blog post/podcast/video is good enough,” it probably isn’t. Don’t settle for good enough, because your readers certainly won’t. Make a second, third, and sometimes even fourth (or more) pass through your content to ensure the rhythm is perfect.

Is My Content Hitting the Low Notes?

I once dated a bass player, and what he and any other bass player out there will tell you is that they’re the most under-appreciated member of a band…but you’ll really miss them if they leave. And they’re right. The low notes in a song give it that driving, well-rounded sound. Without, you’re left with a song that sounds flat. Low notes give music layers.

In terms of online content, “low notes” are the organization of your content. Content organization is definitely under-appreciated, but without it, your message will ultimately fall flat.

When I write a blog post, I usually create a short outline first. I start every post with an intro, split the body of my post into three or more subheadings and close the post with a final thought and call to action. Many podcasters do something similar – they open the same way every week, have segments, and then close things out. And of course, if you’re a web series producer, you probably have a storyboard for every episode.

Your content might not be quite as structured in your approach, and that’s okay. Not every blogger starts with an outline, for example. What is important is that you do introduce some organization so your message makes sense to the audience.

Otherwise, people will leave with one question in their mind: “What was the point of that?”

People need to be told why they should care and what they should do. If your content jumps around from one topic to the next without good organization of your points, it can be confusing and even irritating.

I like to think of my content as a super-micro-mini book with super-micro-mini chapters. When you close one chapter, you might refer back to it later, but you don’t continue to add more information about that topic. The chapters are self-contained for the most part, and they’re arranged in a way that makes sense to the reader. Your goal should be to make your message as clear as possible to your audience members. It’s much easier to keep their attention to the end that way.

Is My Content Hitting the High Notes?

Lastly, no great content is complete without some high notes. High notes are those little “extra somethings” that set you apart from others in your niche. It might be humor. It might be a shocking or profound statement. It might be a clever turn of the phrase. You don’t need high notes all the time. That would be piercing, and you definitely don’t want to figuratively cause your audience to cover their ears. No, you just need a sprinkling of high notes – enough to keep things interesting. Here are some examples of high notes:

In a recent post by Daniel Clark called, “7 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Podcasting,” at one point, Daniel writes, “There are days… oh, there are days… when the last thing you want to do is fire up the microphone and start talking. ” Slipping in that little phrase, “oh, there are days…” adds a little humor to the post and gives it a personal touch.

The Bloggess’ post “The Man Deserves a Damn Medal,” illustrates the opposite – a high note by departing from humor. Her entire post, like most on her blog, is about her hilarious antics with her husband. But near the end of this post, after writing about how she surprised him by renting a sloth and kangaroo for their anniversary (yes, really), she posts a picture of her daughter laughing and gasping and writes, “Then we called Hailey over and she freaked out in the best possible way and screamed, ‘THERE IS A KANGAROO IN OUR LIVING ROOM’ and Victor and I both laughed at her glee and it was awesome. And it was everything a 16th wedding anniversary should be. At least in this house.” The touching love for their daughter that binds them is definitely a high note hidden in a hilarious post.

In “How to Make Your Site the Destination for Your Market” by Chris Garrett, this high note comes as a statistic from Hubspot. He could just tell you how important blogs are, but instead he shows you with some stats. Even better, Chris goes on to punctuate his post with important ideas, which he bold-faces so they stand out. When you read a post like Chris’, it is easy to pick out the high notes.

Break a Leg

What I think is most important about online content creation, however, is that you just do it. A singer can practice her scales all day, but unless she actually gets out there on stage and performs, what does it matter? So care about your rhythm, your low notes, and your high notes, but don’t be so worried that you never perform – publish your content – at all. With each performance, you will improve.

How Can I Find Time to Blog? [Video]


Without a doubt, one of the biggest challenges all bloggers have is making the time to blog. Even if you never procrastinate and even if you are a pro at time management, there are only 24 hours in a day. We want to blog, but we want lives as well. Or at least sleep. The truth is, bloggers who spend every waking minute working on their blog still often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day.

So what can you so to find more time to blog? In this quick video, BWENY speaker Dino Dogan from DIY Blogger gives you three great tips about finding the time to blog. Check it out, and then read on because I want to give you a few of my own tips as well.


Dino’s tips – stop doing frivolous things, diversify, and integrate blogging into your life – are fantastic. To add to those tips, here are a few of my own:

  • Use formulas. I recently posted about Nate Rigg’s advice to use formulas to make yourself a more efficient blogger, and I wholeheartedly agree with this advice. You don’t want to be so formulaic that you’re boring, but having a formula as a starting point definitely can help you be a faster blogger.
  • Post Q&A interviews. People love answering questions because it is human nature to want to talk about yourself. When you post interviews, all you have to do is come up with some good questions, send it to your interviewee, and they’ll write the bulk of the content for you. It’s a definite time-saver.
  • Be personal. Not every blogger feels comfortable being super personal, but it’s often faster to tell a story from your own experiences on your blog than it is to write a more formal post. Again, it goes back to the fact that everyone likes to talk about themselves (yes, even you and I).
  • Use your moments of downtime. This relates to Dino’s advice to integrate. Look for those moments in life where you’re typically waiting for something and doing nothing and figure out how to be a productive blogger in those minutes. Waiting for the dentist? Blog. Waiting for the kids outside of the school? Blog. Waiting for the microwave to heat your lunch? Blog. All of those minutes here and there can really add up, and smartphones/tablets make blogging on the go really easy.
  • Hire help. As your blog grows, you can post more content in less time by hiring contributors or a virtual assistant to help with tasks like tagging, formatting, and distributing. You’ll shell out some money, but these options may be more affordable than you think.

Now it’s your turn – leave a comment with your best tip for finding time to blog even when your life seems super busy! What works for you?

Don’t Be An Island: Connecting and Relating Online


Last week, I wrote about how Shane from Contently spoke about the future of content online, but he wasn’t the only speaker at BlogWorld NY to delve into this topic. Shane co-presented with Andraz from Zemanta who also had a few tips for online content creators who want to safeguard their practices for the future. Most importantly, in my opinion, is that idea that we as bloggers, podcasters, and web TV producers can no longer be islands, out there working by ourselves. A vital part of successfully creating content online is connecting with others.

“Building bridges is what content marketing is all about.” – Andraz Tori, Zemanta

This goes beyond convincing other people to like you and spread your content. In fact, this type of connection is not what the “don’t be an island” advice is all about. It’s true that you do need to connect with people in order to distribute your content well, but first, it’s about connecting with people to ensure that the content you create is good before you even start to distribute.

Citing Your Sources

Others, such as Dave Copeland, also talked about the importance of citing your sources when you’re reporting. And they are right. When you reblog and reblog and reblog of a press release, information gets lost or mixed up along the way. We also have a tendency to skip the legwork of following links all the way back to their original sources, and we instead give credit to someone else who reblogged along the way. This is not only unfair to the original source, but it is also a disservice to your readers. Link out to your sources to make your content better.

Find Inspiration

Connecting with others can also help you find inspiration for your own content. I think this is an important tip because it encourages bloggers, podcasters, and web TV producers to all open lines of communication. Remember, don’t be an island. If someone writes a blog post and you don’t agree with it, write your own post and say why. Link back to that original post and encourage others to do the same. Conversation through online content can be an awesome way to engage you followers.

Better Content

Finally, connecting your readers to more content through links simply makes your content better. Sometimes it isn’t about citing a source or providing a link to the person who inspired your content. Sometimes it is simply about connecting in order to give the reader a place to find more information about a topic. For example, you might link to the background story for a news piece you are writing. Or you might mention a topic in passing and link to a place where readers can find more since you don’t want to devote the space to it. Better content is only possible if you connect with others. We simply do not have enough hours in the day to be the one-stop resource for everything, so we have to turn to our fellow content creators and work together to create a better user experience.

Want to hear more from Andraz and all of our BlogWorld New York 2012 speakers? Consider picking up the virtual ticket to get access to all of the recordings from the show.

How to be Taken More Seriously as a Blogger


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Oh, you’re a blogger.” or watched someone painfully attempt to avoid rolling their eyes when I talk about my job. Blogging still gets a bad rap, and perhaps rightfully so, unfortunately. For every well-written and thoughtful blog post out there, you can find dozens that are little more than reblogs of reblogs of reblogs of press releases. There’s something to be said for giving your readers the news of the day, but this process easily becomes a game of Telephone, with facts getting mixed up along the way.

It’s a disservice to your readers, and even worse, you’re helping to maintain this idea that bloggers aren’t as good or important as other media sources.

We do, however, have the power to change this and be taken more seriously as bloggers simply by thinking different about the news pieces we write. At BlogWorld New York 2012, Dave Copeland presented Reporting for Bloggers, and today, I wanted to share his 3-2-1 Formula that will make every post your write more credible.

3 Sources

Most bloggers realize that citing sources is important for an ethical standpoint, but in this formula, sources become even more important. Not all sources are created equally. If you’re reporting on something that happens, you need to verify that you’re using an original source. Even better, pick up the phone or shoot off an email to someone who can answer your questions directly. Dave showed several examples where he “busted” a story or presented an entirely new spin simply by talking to people. When you get too far from original sources, not only is your information more likely to be incorrect, but you’re only repeating information that can be found elsewhere online. So, when blogging about a news story, take the time to include at least three sources – interviews, quotes, original sources, etc.

2 Links

Many bloggers are already pretty good about include a few links with each post, but it’s important to choose your links wisely. If you’re going send people away from your site (or away from your page, even if you’re linking to your own site), make sure to verify the links. hey should be packed with more information about the topic so you’re really helping the reader. And if you’re not including links at all? Shame on you. Linking is what makes the Internet such an awesome source for news. (Zemanta is a great plugin that can help you save time with linking if you’re short on time, so check it out.)

1 Image

Lastly, use at least one image with your posts. Go beyond stock photography if you can and find a fair-use picture that really fits your post well. You might not have the budget for images that a magazine or newspaper has, but sites like Wikipedia and Flickr have Creative Commons that are often filled with great images to help your reader better understand the topic at hand.

If you want to catch the rest of Dave’s awesome session at BlogWorld New York 2012, check out our virtual ticket, which gives you access to this and other presentations you missed at the show. (If you were at BWENY and want to upgrade your ticket to include the virtual ticket, simply email registration@blogworldexpo.com.)

Three Steps to Writing Better Blog Posts for People Who Hate Writing


writing better blog posts Online content isn’t limited to blogging. Podcasters create great audio content. Video makes sense for others. Photography and other digital art are also options. But no matter what kind of content you create, you can support your work with a blog.

The problem is, blogging is all about written content, and for people who don’t like to write, the prospect of starting a blog can be scarey. The good news is that blog posts don’t have to be long, drawn-out posts like those I normally write here on the BlogWorld blog. If you hate writing, there’s no need to publish 1000-word pieces several times a week. Instead, focus on the following three steps; your blog posts will better support your other content and take less time to write so you can spend more time on the content you actually like to create.

Step One: Identify Your Goal

Before you start writing (or staring at a blank screen wondering what to write), take a moment to identify a broad goal for the post you’re about to publish. Blog posts usually fall into one of three categories:

  • Education – the post is teaching people how to do something
  • Entertainment  – the post is an interesting way to help readers pass the time
  • Inspiration – the post is motivating people to do something

If you typically create another kind of content, most of your blog posts will probably be inspirational (motivating people to check out your other content) or educational (supporting your other content with written guides/tutorials/etc.). Save the entertainment (humor, opinion pieces, etc.) for the kind of content you actually like creating, since that’s where your true passion will shine through.

Blog posts can be both educational and inspirational, and if well-written, they should also be a little entertaining (at least to the point where they are interesting and not boring). But figure out the most important goal of the post you’re about to write. Every paragraph should help you achieve that goal.

Step Two: Create a Basic Outline and Fill in the Blanks

Once you’ve determined whether you’re writing an educational, entertaining, or inspirational post, it’s time to start writing. You may have learned this in high school (if you were an uber-nerd like me and paid attention in English class), but as a refresher: you can easily organize thoughts by using the following outline:

  • An opening paragraph explaining what the post will be about
  • Three to five paragraphs, each explaining one point about your topic
  • A closing paragraph similar to the opening one, summarizing what the post was about

For bloggers, a better way to think about this is:

  • A paragraph explaining why the reader needs to know the following information or what inspired you to write it.
  • Three to five paragraphs under bullet points or subheadings
  • A call to action (what the reader should do next if they liked your content)

Of course, posts don’t have to fall into this rigid outline, but if you don’t like writing, starting with this outline makes things a little easier. Write out a sentence describing your main topic, the points you want to cover in your post, and a call to action (sign up for my mailing list, subscribe to my blog, check out other content, buy my product, whatever). Then, simply go back and fill in the blanks by fleshing out your ideas.

Step Three: Add a Personal Story or Details

Once you have the basic post written, make it even better by adding some personality, either through a personal story or some personal details. This doesn’t have to mean that you write 500 words about your cat (though you can if Mr. Whiskers is relevant to the topic you’re covering). It just means that you make the post a little less sterile. For example, I added the detail about being a huge nerd in high school to this post (see above). You can also add longer stories about why the post was important for you to write, given behind-the-scenes details about whatever you’re promoting, or even crack a joke. Those extra details will definitely take your content to the next level.

Want even more post writing help? Definitely check out the content creation track at BlogWorld & New Media Expo this June in New York. Our speakers will be presenting sessions like “10 Professional Writing Secrets to Create Killer Content, “50 Content Creation Ideas: You will Never Suffer from Bloggers Block Again!” and more.

Is this Little-Known Content Mistake Costing You Subscribers?


When I was five years old, I loved candy. Okay, who are we kidding? I still love candy. But this story is about me as a five-year-old so bear with me.

Halloween was of course one of my most favorite times of the year, and after a particularly good “haul” one year, my dad decided to give me permission to do the unthinkable – eat as much of my candy as I wanted. I felt like Scrooge McDuck diving into his pool of gold coins every time I reached into my pumpkin-themed bucket for another handful of candy.

You might be able to guess what happened next. That’s right, I ate so many Snickers and Twizzlers and whatnot that I got very sick. It was several weeks before I could even look at candy again.

The lesson my dad was trying to teach me was that moderation is key in whatever you do. At five years old, I was happy to eat candy until I was sick, but I wasn’t ready to pay those consequences. It never crossed my mind that I could have too much of something so amazingly good. I didn’t understand that more isn’t always better.

Your blog or podcast content is like candy. (Well, hopefully!) In other words, it’s really good, and people want it. Readers come to your site for their virtual sugar fix, like five year olds on Halloween flock to the house giving out the full-sized Hershey bars. At least, that’s the goal, right? You want your readers to love your content.

Only, too much content can give your readers a stomach ache.

Okay, maybe not a stomach ache, but if you’re posting too much content and your readers can’t keep up, it’s like eating too much candy. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. I know you have a lot of ideas. I do too. But if you give people more content than they can handle, they’re going to unsubscribe.

How much is too much? That depends on your niche. Someone coming to a blog for news is probably going to want updates several times every day. That’s why a site like Mashable can get away with posting so often. In other niches, posting that often is obnoxious. People don’t have the time to read that much! For example, Social Media Examiner posts about once per day. They have a huge pool of writers, so several posts a day might be doable from a production standpoint, but their posts are so in-depth that it would overwhelm readers in a hurry.

You run the risk of getting boring too. For example, Jenny at The Bloggess posts a few times per week, but rarely more than once per day. Her blog is about her life – so she writes when interesting things happen. If she forced herself to post three times a day, half of those posts might be nothing more than, “Uh…so I had a chicken salad sandwich for lunch…”

It also depends on what your readers are used to. If you post once a week and then suddenly amp it up to post every day, people are going to step back in a very surprised way. This is especially true of your email subscribers. No one likes an inbox full of stuff they weren’t expecting, even if that stuff is really good content. So, if you want to start posting more content, slowly increase you post rate. Let people dip their feet in the pool and get in slowly rather than pushing them in when their backs are turned.

The bottom line: When thinking about post rate, the question isn’t always, “Am I posting enough?” Sometimes the question is, “Am I posting too much?” No matter how tasty your content may be, you need to practice moderation to keep subscribers around and interested.

Love in the Time of Social Media


I have a confession to make: I’m an online dater.

There. I said it. For some reason, dating online still has a stigma about it. For some reason, it’s still perceived as a weird or creepy way to meet other people but going out to a club and  grinding with strangers while sipping $12 beers is perfectly okay.

But I digress.

The real reason I wanted to talk about this topic today is not so I can defend online dating, but rather so I can talk about how social media, blogs, video content, podcasts, and other online media are creating this brave new world of dating. And while it isn’t always pretty, it is definitely interesting.

What better topic to open for discussion on Valentine’s Day?

We talk a lot about “controlling the message” about ourselves online in a professional way…but the online world is becoming increasingly personal as well.

Online Dating: Be the Person You Want to Be

At BlogWorld 2010, one of the pieces of advice that stuck with me was from Copyblogger’s Brian Clark who said in response to a question about authenticity (and I’m paraphrasing), “Be the best you possible.” Online, we have the ability to mold our brand, to show the pieces of us that make sense for our audience and hide the “nasty bits” as Lisa Barone called them at BlogWorld LA 2011. It doesn’t make you a less authentic blogger or a dishonest blogger to pick and choose the pieces of yourself you feel comfortable revealing.

But I wonder, sometimes, if this mentality is spilling over into the online dating world…and not in a good way.

When you first meet someone, it takes a while to get to know one another. I’m not going to divulge all of my secrets on a first date, share my embarrassing stories until forced to do so by a trip to introduce you to the parents, or blurt out my bad habits in hopes that my honesty will make you swoon. No, I’m going to present the best possible version of Allison.

Online, though, it’s much easier to hide the bad things about yourself, and even someone with the best BS radar in the world can be fooled with a well written profile and a ten-year-old picture showing a full head of hair and wearing pants that haven’t fit in years. We’re crafting stories about ourselves that aren’t telling the whole truth, and it makes it much harder to have successful face-to-face first dates. I should know. I’ve never once had a bad time on a date with someone I met for the first time in a public setting. I’ve had some hilariously bad dates with people I’ve met online, simply because they put too much spin on the profile they presented.

Are our everyday online existences teaching us to be more guarded with the information we share in a potential romantic or even friendship situation? Maybe. It’s hard to say, “Here I am, World! Take me or leave me!” when it is so easy and even second nature to hide the things about ourselves that we don’t like.

The Online Mirror

Yet, the ability to hid aspects of ourselves online can also help us reflect upon ourselves in profound ways. Online dating has changed the way I think about the content I publish. When I’m blogging, tweeting, etc. I have less of a filter because if you don’t like my content, it doesn’t really feel like a personal rejection. It’s just business. But when someone doesn’t like my online dating profile? Well, that’s a harder hit. Deep down, we all want to be liked.

So it’s been an interesting experiment for me, creating online dating profiles. Without thinking about it, there are things I naturally hid about myself in order to present what I thought was the best possible me to potential dates. It created a clearer mirror about the qualities I have that I need to work on in all aspects of my online life. Why should I subject my readers to *insert quality here* when I’m not willing to talk about those qualities on an online dating profile?

A good example: I’m not afraid to curse on my blog or even my social media accounts. However, on a popular dating website (OKCupid), I was filling out some of their survey questions and it asked “How often do you curse?” Although “like a sailor” was probably the most honest answer, there was no way that was the type of impression I wanted to give off to people visiting my profile! While I still do curse when I feel like a strong word is needed, I realized that having an unnecessary potty mouth was not the type of person I wanted to be online. So I’m working to break myself of this habit.

The New Stalker

I think the most curious and interesting part of online dating, however, is that it has created a whole new class of stalkers. At one time, creepy stalkers sat outside your house in a car, watching your every move. Today, stalkers sit on Google, watching your every move. And it’s not only creeps who participate. I’ve definitely googled someone before a first date. It’s not about being creepy. It’s about being curious and having a wealth of information at my fingertips, if only I have the courage to take a peek.

What happens when you google your name? What about when you google any screen names you use? You might not like the information that pops up about you, especially if you not only date online, but also work online like I do. Someone interesting in a date with you is going to make a mental snapshot in his/her mind based on the content you’re putting out there (or things other people are saying about you). Do you control this message?

Friend Me!

IN closing, let me share a somewhat embarrassing story about myself when on an Atlantic City trip about a year ago. We were there for one of my best friend’s bachelorette parties, so I’m not ashamed to say I had more than a few drinks. Someone I met at the last bar we visited had bought me a few drinks. As we were leaving he tried to get my number, but I wasn’t really interested in giving it to him (not my style). Still, he had been very nice to me, and I always feel bad rejecting people, so my response to his insistence as I walked out the door was, “Are you on  Facebook? Friend me!”

Nevermind that he was probably too drunk to even remember my first name (and I certainly hadn’t given him my last night or even told him where I was from). For some reason, my rum-filled mind went directly to social media. I remember thinking that if he really wanted to get to know me, not just call me later in the hopes that I’d come to his hotel room, he’d friend me on Facebook. Needless to say, my friends cracked up at me telling him to friend me on Facebook rather than giving him my number.

The point to my story, and to this entire post really, is that we’re all content creators, and not just in a professional way, and more and more, people are going to look at the “profile” you’ve created for yourself online. Whether you run an online business or not, your presence on social media and other online properties is going to seep into your personal life. What information is out there about you? Would you want to date yourself?

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