Category Archives: Blog Site Tips

3 Must-Haves That Make Business Email & Blog Posts More Readable

Are you ready to broaden your audience and save yourself the tedium of repeating info you’ve previously sent in an email?

Here are the three format rules you must follow to improve the value of your writing:

    1. strategically place bold print
    2. section off larger messages/posts with headers
    3. put key points into bullet points and numbered lists

*See bottom of this post for link to learn more about bullet points.

Save the Client’s Time on Project Updates

I have a long-standing client who used to call me up and she would never fail to ask questions that I had answered in a recent email. At first I thought she was just forgetful because she has so much going on in her business. After working with her for a few months I knew that the “forgetful” theory was not true. She is an amazing business woman and she has an great memory. One day I asked her about it and she said to me:

“Amber, you have been making so many wonderful improvements for my business, but I don’t really understand half of what you are talking about in your project updates. I just skim them for highlights and then prepare to be amazed by your results.”

See how she did that? With a bit of criticism followed by a great compliment she gave me some vital e-business advice.

All informative writing must be skim-able.

Clearly Separate the “Good Stuff”

The good stuff is the part of your message that the reader needs to hear the most and see first while skimming it.

Let’s face it: EVERYONE SKIMS. We have to skim. Can you image trying to read every single document, email, posted message, or terms of usage agreement thrown at you? If you actually read every privacy agreement and terms of usage policy for every piece of software or electronic device you ever used then you wouldn’t have a chance to use it until it was obsolete!

Streamline your communication.

skim emailsMaking documents skim-able or scan-able is very easy with bullet points and section headers. (If we can learn to write volumes within a 140 character limit, we can learn anything in communication!)

Be careful not to overuse bold print. That might have been the toughest one for me to work on.

The number one reason for hiring a virtual assistant is to save the clients’ time. It doesn’t matter if it’s for tedious work or work that requires a special skill set we must make time saving a top priority.

So remember! Paragraphs are dead. Long live bullet points, strategically bolded print, and clear sectioned headers for all informative writing.

Side note for bullet points: Check out How to Write Powerful Bullet Points if you are not familiar with using them. Follow their advice, it’s all very good.

Drafts, Drafts Everywhere?

And Not a Single Published Post

blogging writingI have 36 draft posts saved in my blog right now. (Plus a handful of local MS Word files with random names like “stuff they put in our food” and “the virtual assistant ‘to do’ list”.) Some drafts contain only a few words while others contain paragraph after paragraph of good information that I have picked up over the past year and yet never got around to editing or just pressing that increasingly elusive “publish” button.

Why would any blogger have so many unpublished posts!? I have a lot of reasons. The first is this: I am not actually a blogger. I am a writer who poses as a blogger. It’s almost been a year since I’ve posted to my blog, but I write everyday. I write for all kinds of reasons: business, a little fiction for fun, and sometimes it’s just non-sense in a journal. No matter what ends up on the page, it’s the act of writing that love.

Bloggers vs. Writers

Bloggers write about their passion, while a writer’s passion is simply to write. One can be a great blogger without being a great writer (and vice versa), but writers can learn a lot from bloggers.

The Writer’s Excuse The Blogger’s M. O.
“I just couldn’t find the time.” “I am not writing a novel here. I do have time to write one solid paragraph to keep my blog ‘content fresh’.”
“I have writer’s block.” Just one paragraph about the relevant stuff I am doing / learning / or hearing from other people. . .
It’s amazing the angles that some bloggers are able to come at a topic while keeping their content relevant!
“I’m too tired.” “Procrastination and the heavy cloud of unfinished business are more exhausting than just doing it.”
“I don’t know if it’s worth it.” “I never waste my subscriber’s time; I make sure it’s worth it.”
“I don’t even know if it would matter if I skipped this time.” “People notice when I skip, in fact they ask me about it. That’s just another reason to keep on!”

Why do I love writing?
As work, life experiences, and other people provide a constant stream of “input”; I feel like if I can just describe them with the right combination of words, then I can understand them better.

It really has been nearly a year now since I have posted on my blog. As I was typing out this “hello again” post, I was fully intent upon being quite critical about my poor blogging performance and apologizing for being gone etc.

While I am sorry about the extended hiatus, I think it’s better if I skip the self-critical part. I work better focusing on encouragement. :)

Why do I choose to pick up blogging again?
As my Facebook statuses and emails to everyone have been getting longer and longer lately. I have no choice but to get back to blogging again. It is a small but important outlet for one of my greatest passions: writing.

~ Till next week.

Increase Your Web Traffic in a Weekend

I’ve been reading the 6th edition of Increase Your Web Traffic in a Weekend and decided I had to write about it because it’s fabulous.

Much of the information in this book has been primarily valuable for me to reinforce and revisit many already well-known SEO and traffic directing practices. However, I was pleasantly surprised by some hot, relevant tips sprinkled throughout this book that I either never heard of or never thought of as a resource.

The book is literally sectioned off by what to do starting Friday evening and ending Sunday afternoon. I don’t want to give away too much information provided by this edition, but here’s a tiny preview of what I meant about some information reinforcing and making sense of what we already know.

    I came across a section about how search engines read your site information and why:

  • iframes
  • scripts thrown in with your HTML vs. residing in a separate file
  • tables
  • and graphics with obscure names like DSNC009.jpg
  • wreak havoc on your website’s indexing potential.

With iframes the search engine’s web spider sees virtually no information other than a reference to another page to index.

Scripts can simply limit your pages’ important data from being indexed since most search engines don’t crawl and cache the full length of all information on every page. So the book recommended simple alternatives to run your java scripts.

The info about how websites index tables also got my attention. It is very important that you know how search engines read them especially if you have tables of subjects with definitions or locations or other information that should be read from left to right.

Of course, the tip about renaming pictures with keywords or using alt tags was another good reminder.

It was published in February of 2011 which is important because I don’t read much of any ever-evolving material like social media or web development that hasn’t been published within the last 12 months. (This book covers both social media and best web development practices.)

I really liked this book. It offers helpful references to places to submit your website and dives head first into the newest rage that’s going to stick around for a while – SMO ( Social Media Optimization ).

Web Content Planning

If Content is King and Quality is Queen then making sure that everything is linked to everything else is that Ace strategy you’ve been waiting for.

The quantity of your content is your credibility and it’s best to keep 80% of your content in one place and 100% of your content (whether it’s from twitter or Facebook or tumblr or whatever) connected to your other content. You need a focal point. For most businesses that’s a custom domain.

Get a Domain Name

Great websites are both:

  • content rich where people are able to spend hours learning about you and your business, and
  • have friendly navigation so anyone can spend two minutes purchasing their product of choice and continue on their way.

You may want to consider a little mind mapping to get an overview of structure for a brand new website.

Consider Starting a Blog

Blogs are a great way to generate constant content and also archive older content. This would be a good place to consolidate all of your old newsletters and e-zine articles. If you want, you can date the posts with the date you sent the newsletter.

You might have newsletter content at Aweber, Vertical Response, ning, Media Temple, ezinearticles.com, mailchimp all of which can be consolidated on your news feed. If you can edit any of the articles to create backlinks to your website do so.

The fact to consider before you do commit to a blog is that it can be difficult to keep your blog alive after the novelty of it all has worn off.

Social Media Marketing is the Place to Create Genuine Connections and Listen

After a clear plan for your websites are established, you have an audience waiting for you to start a Facebook or Twitter or Google Talk campaign.

This isn’t something you want to begin until you are ready to update and check on every single day (at least every other day) . . .

Facebook is even better than twitter because you can share more information like

  • pictures
  • full recipes
  • and videos

Keep Your Blog Alive

live pulse
Last week I wrote 5 posts about the five main reasons that so many blogs are dying out.

1. Lack of Time

Make sure you know the answers to these questions for your own blog:

► How often do I have to write a post for my blog?
► How long should my blog posts be?
► What is my schedule and time limit for writing each post I plan to publish?
The first step to prevent your blog’s extinction is to know and keep in check each necessary attribute of a successful blog:

Time, Good Content, Focus, Responses, and Benefits.

- Continue reading 5 Reasons Why Blogs are Dying (Part 1)

2. Lack of Content

The biggest key is making sure that your content is unique.
Even if you are writing a post about someone else’s post, after giving proper credit to your inspiration, let the reflections or creative writing come from you.

- Continue reading 5 Reasons Why Blogs are Dying (Part 2)

3. Lack of Focus

Narrowing down your focus to prove yourself the expert of your own niche.

- Continue reading 5 Reasons Why Blogs are Dying (Part 3)

4. Lack of Response

Appreciation for your blog posts mostly comes in two forms:

► Number one is lots of comments.
► Number two is more subscribers.

- Continue reading 5 Reasons Why Blogs are Dying (Part 4)

5. Lack of Tangible Benefits

What is your motivation for blogging?

Blogs that make a steady income are rare considering the absurd number of blogs existing in the nameless rabble of websites that host their own or offer free blog spaces.

- Continue reading 5 Reasons Why Blogs are Dying (Part 5)

Ok, I am going to write it out loud. In some cases, the death of a blog this isn’t a bad thing.

But what do you need to do to make sure your blog doesn’t fall victim to one of these deficiencies? My advice is sprinkled throughout this group of posts.

Let us know if you have anything to add or a link to your own posts that contain related content.

5 Reasons Why Blogs are Dying (Part 4)

Every day this week I am going to write about the five main reasons why so many blogs are dying out.
1. Lack of Time / 2. Lack of Content / 3. Lack of Focus / 4. Lack of Response / and 5. Lack of Tangible Benefits

Lack of Response

Appreciation for your blog posts mostly comes in two forms:

  1. Number one is lots of comments.
  2. Number two is more subscribers. (Number two probably being the most important.)

In October and November of 2006, Problogger.net and Copyblogger both posted articles about getting the coveted responses all bloggers want. Regardless of the dates of these old articles the advice is fairly timeless.

The information surrounding each point in each blog post earns a decent recommendation for reading from me to you.

10 Techniques to Get More Comments on Your Blog 10 Effective Ways to Get More Blog Subscribers
Written by Problogger – Oct 12, 2006 Written by Copyblogger – Nov 14, 2006
1. Invite Comments 1. Make it Easy and Obvious
2. Ask Questions 2. Be Laser Focused
3. Be Open Ended 3. Offer a Bribe
4. Interact with Comments Left 4. Use Viral E-books
5. Set Boundaries 5. Dedicated Subscription Landing Page
6. Be Humble 6. Become a Guest Blogger
7. Be Gracious 7. Start a Podcast
8. Be Controversial? 8. Post in Forums
9. ‘Reward’ Comments 9. Networking
10. Make it Easy to Comment 10. Cross-Promotional Deals

The only one that no one seemed to consider is the fundamental importance of reliably and consistently authoring the stimulating kind of leading-edge content.