Tag Archives: Blogging Tips

Write Now: Simple Writing Dos and Don’ts

write nowNote: If you already have a main idea / topic for writing and simply need help getting started, skip to the last section: Do: GET STARTED NOW.

Do start with a purpose and stay focused on your topic!
Ask yourself: “What do I want my reader to learn and/or feel after reading my article?”
Write out your message as clearly and completely as you can right away. This does not have to begin your paper or article, but it will help you remain on topic.

Don’t use repetition.
It is a poor habit of many writers and good bloggers to repeat themselves. Remember to get an editors input on repeating thoughts. Even if you acknowledge it with ‘in other words’ repetition is often a waste of time for your audience. (I battle this habit myself.)

Do include proof or facts that support your message.
Have at least one or two supporting outside sources that prove your stance. If you need a little “fluff” you can add one or two facts that disprove another person’s argument. It’s completely acceptable to disagree with others, but it would be wise to get someone else’s opinion on whether you come across in earnest or just argumentative.

Don’t jump back and forth presenting both sides of an argument.
There is nothing more daunting than reading an article from an undecided author. While it is important to show both sides of an argument, it is more important (as the writer) to solidify your own firm stance for your readers.

Do use paragraphs to separate different views of an argument.
If you have sufficient details to support two or more different sides of an issue you should put each standpoint into its own separate paragraph. Check out Paragraph Dos and Don’ts for more on this.

Don’t let paragraphs get too long.
Paragraphs that take up a half or a whole page could probably be broken down into three or four paragraphs. You could even use headers, bullet points, graphs or even pictures to replace many globs of words! :)

You may have come across this article because you were searching for the right rules and formats to get your message across to your reader as optimally as possible.

I am going to share some of the best advice I have ever gotten as far as writing. It was a time when I was to write a paper for a college class and I had unfortunately waited until the last minute to even begin. I called up a ADD coach I happened to be working for: Frank Coppola who still does coaching at ADDingPerspective.com.

I told him it was very important I started and finished it right away, but I had some sort of writer’s block. And he said these very simple golden words that I absolutely needed to hear.

“First” he said, “say what you’re going to say and then simply build on it from there.”

Then I realized I was making it too complicated. even though I technically knew what I wanted to say I was waiting for the perfect words. <- And that hidden habit of trying to make my first draft as perfect as possible was the reason I kept procrastinating. I had always felt it was a waste of time to write a second draft.

That's the beauty of writing on a computer, we no longer need to re-write anything. It isn't like we are writing with pen and paper and white-out anymore. The first, second, and final drafts are all on the computer screen now. We can copy and paste and rearrange our words so much easier now than we could in grade school when we were learning about the "process of writing".

So go ahead: Just say what you're going to say.

One Last Tip: For marketing or persuasive writing you may want to buy or borrow Hypnotic Writing by Joe Vitale.

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.

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 5)

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 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.

To put it simply, millions of blogs have failed. The most important question for you must answer for yourself is: “How do you measure the success of your blog?”

The Money

The following are the most basic avenues to earn some coin for all of your hard work.

  • attract sponsors
  • attract advertisers
  • charge for access

These aren’t really very successful until you get some serious traffic. e.g. 50 to 100 hits a day.

The Marketing

For most businesses, blogs aren’t created to be a source of residual income as much as they are a source of marketing their actual business. And we all know how much good marketing costs. :)

  • gain credibility for your business
  • brag about your business

Or the Outlet

Sometimes, the benefit of writing a blog is simply an artistic release.

  • write for the sake of writing

5 Reasons Why Blogs are Dying (Part 1)

This week’s mini series of blog posts are for those of you who write blogs like mine. We have the ability to share experience that others can benefit from.

It is our right and maybe even responsibility to writing about what we know and hypothesizing (without intention of presenting hypotheses as undoubted fact) out loud about what we don’t completely understand yet.

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 Time

I am starting with this one because for the first time in 18 months I completely skipped my blog post last week. The reason that so many like me who love to write still end up falling short of their own expectations is because we get tripped up by the bar we set for ourselves. No matter how much we are all fighting it, we are all burdened with the limitation of 24 hours to each day. So we try to plan out as much of that time as possible and whether we like to think about it or not, we all have missed out on spending enough time on one thing or another that we could have really made a difference with.

3 Bottom-line Dependent Questions with Variably Correct Answers:

1. How often do you have to post to your blog?

COMMON ANSWERS: Once a day, every day? 5 times a week? Every other day-ish? Once a week? Once a month?

REAL ANSWER: It depends. No. Really.
It depends on purpose. Some businesses use their “web log” for press releases which may only get released semi-annually. I still only blog once a week. Except for this week because I am not going to spread this particularly important tidbit over a span of 5 weeks. :) If I have learned anything from all of the blogs business or otherwise it’s this: quality and consistency that beat bulk and fluff.

2. How long should blog posts be?
People get stressed while over thinking each blog post. They get hung-up on the false belief that all posts should be massive blobs of words rich (or cluttered?) with a massive wealth of details supporting your idea. In truth, you just need one main topic for each post and between three and four (at the very least) sentences or references to other content supporting your topic of the moment. And as long as that topic is relevant to the blog’s main idea then it only adds value.

3. Should I limit the amount of time I work on it?

This is another difficult question. I am so picky about my writing and I often have so many ideas that it is a time-consuming effort to articulate those ideas without overly complex details or overly vague statements. I’m working on that. :) I am trying to keep my entire process to under 45 minutes.

I failed horribly on that time limit today. :) Tomorrow I’ll do better.