Category Archives: Tools For Writing
A friend of mine sent me this post over the weekend and since I thought it brilliant I figured, why not share the brilliance with others. Like Miahi, I agree that ultimately, it is the characters that tell their own story, but just like children, they still need enough structure to keep the landscape within sight, yet not lose their creativity. Enjoy.
How Often|How Long: Determining Your Posting Commitments
“In at least one way we are atypical bloggers. That’s because we just keep on posting. The typical blogger, like most people who go on diets and budgets, quits after a few months, weeks, or in many cases, days.” (Stephen J. Dubner)
So far in the journey of deciding whether to start up a blog or not, my displaced journalist friend and I have talked about some of the reasons why he would want to start a one, and once started, what hosting sites are going to best fit his needs and abilities. The next stop to make on our journey is deciding how often he’ll need to post, as well as how long each post should be.
As with any successful writing endeavor, understanding the amount of time and energy you are willing to commit to it is going to be an important factor in whether you’ll be able to achieve your end goal or not. For example, if you’ve chosen to create a blog site as a means of sharing your life, values, or thoughts in general or specific, then posting only five or six times a month would be ok. But on the other hand, if your goal is to establish an online platform by which you are able to show off your wares then you’ll need to up the ante a little more; say two to three times a week.
Its import that beginning (and not so beginning) bloggers deal with any commitment issues they might have at the start of their endeavor if they want to establish a following and keep it. When readers take the time to add your site to their RSS feed, or follow by email, they’ve done so because they value what you have to say and are looking forward to hearing more. Now they may be forgiving if you have the occasional moments when life just gets away from you and you missed a post, but if, for whatever reason, you begin to hit and miss with the frequency of your posting, you might find yourself un-followed in a not so distant future. I’ve seen it happen; I’ve done it myself.
So get the issue of how often your willing to commit yourself to writing-posting on your blog out of the way from the get go. See my post, Faithfully Yours | Blogging With Consistency, for ideas on how to develop a posting or editorial schedule.
The next item my friend and I talked about was how long the post should be.
Now I’ve read posts that were short and to the point, and I’ve read others that were longer, and in my non-humble opinion, should have been considered a novella rather than a post. Did the author really need that many words? Yet be that as it may, the real issue isn’t how long the post is, but rather, how many words is it going to take to say what it is you want to say (keeping in mind that the average reader doesn’t have a lot of time to spend on just one post).
A good way to view this is, if your post were a writing prompt, and you were restricted to 500 words or less, you would need to find a way to write the story or essay within the guidelines of that word count. And even though the creative artist within you demands to be heard at all costs, the truth is, less is often better than more.
C. Hope Clark has a great article on taking what you have to say, and paring it down to 700 Words.
So now that my journalist friend has determined what he’d like to say, found the right blog site to host it on and determined the frequency and length of content he can commit to, we’ll motor on over to the next item on our list; Putting On the Ritz
Four Keys For Creating Great Posts
Getting chosen to be on the first two or three pages of anyone of the Big Three SE’s , is becoming a lot like trying to make it onto one of the Olympic teams; you may look good with all your fancy theme’s, widgets, share buttons and Twitter feeds; but if you’re not posting quality content on a regular basis, you might as well pack up your gym bag and go home.
It wasn’t that long ago that all it took to find our posts on the first one or two pages of Google’s infamous SEO, was stuffing it with mystical codes, popular tags and cleverly placed hyperlinks. Given enough fairy dust , elf runes and magical wands, even the worst blogger could make themselves appear on the first page of at least one of the Big Three.
But those days of technical wizardry and sleight of hand are pretty much over. According to guest author, Rich Gorman in his article, “How to Write Online Content that Appeals to (Almost) Everybody“, Google has now made it nearly impossible for posers to get away with luring unsuspecting readers to their sites by using misleading information.
Now, with the help of nano-sized spiders, programs like Panda and Penguin are able to crawl over our web sites, read our mail, digest our content and return to their masters loaded down with all the information needed for the powers on high to determine where our sites and their posts get ranked.
So what is it that the Big Three are looking for? How do the powers that be determine which sites get chosen and which get left in outfield? And even more important, what can you and I do to give ourselves a fighting chance so that we’re consistently hit home runs?
“…write as if you’re sitting in the same room as those who read you, keep them entertained,
and don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s you they’ve drop by to see.”
In reality, search engines are looking for the same things as readers; quality content, consistency in posting and eye catching presentation. In Heidi Cohen’s post on creating compelling content, she gives a lists of some of the key ingredients that can help us do that; strong headlines, strategically structured paragraphs, and well placed bold font.
But what are some of the things that will attract new readership as well as keep the ones we already have? What will peak their attention, bully their thoughts and provoke their interest time and time again?
I started thinking about what it was that drew me to add someone to my own reader board. What was it about their content that made them interesting enough for me to copy that URL and drop it into my Google Reader board?
Here are the four keys I use to judge content.
- Write posts that add value: If people are following our posts, then we owe it to them to write about things that gives our niche readership something that add to who they are, and can be tucked away in a folder for their own articles or future posts.
- Speak the language: Every niche has a language all its own. Techno geeks speak Techneez; journalists speak Journaleez and emerging authors ….well we’re still trying to learn how to speak Authoreez. Don’t waste the reader’s time speaking a language that has nothing to do with them. Whatever your niche audience is, write to that.
- Know what’s hot and what’s not: Look for topics that are either filling Twitter feeds and Face Book, or ones that are just now breaking on the scene. Several months ago I came across a little blurb on the horizon about Amanda Havard and a new Ebook technology called Immersedition. At the time of my original posting, little to nothing was being said about the author, her book or the company her father founded. Now she’s getting ready to publish her third book in the Survivor’s Series and she’s headline news.
- Write for your audience: With all the information available at the click of a mouse or the push of a finger, it’ s totally unrealistic for any of us to try to write for everyone. So write as if you’re sitting in the same room as those who read you, keep them entertained, and don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s you they’ve drop by to see.