Two of the focuses of my blog are Blogging and Writing, and Technology. In today’s world where most everyone needs and uses websites, the use of images is critical. Just using the image is the only key to maximizing is effectiveness for you. Captioning the image also matters. The following contributed post is entitled, Three Reasons You Can’t Skip Image Captions.
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Since the internet began (or near enough), website images have been key to appealing to audiences and getting big-name search engines like Google on-side. And, with human attention spans now commonly shorter than that of a goldfish, proper usage here has reached new heights. You’ll certainly struggle to appeal to modern audiences if you only offer unbroken pages of text for them to scroll through!
But, you don’t need us to tell you that. A business pro like you has been using images on your company page since its launch. What you might not realize is that simple image use may not be enough to give you an edge for much longer.
As online competition heats up, changing priorities and needs mean that, now, businesses who also implement image captions achieve the edge. This is a step that many of us skip because, on the surface, it doesn’t seem to offer any business benefit. But, once you delve into the matter, you could find that the habit of captioning your website pictures opens you up for benefits including –
As any company that deals in ADA eCommerce site compliance will tell you, adherence with accessibility requirements is, by far, the best benefit of image captioning right now. By including an easy-to-read description, you increase the chances that even visually impaired visitors will be able to grasp your website content. You could even take this further by pairing captions with audio descriptions. Then, there’s no risk of discriminating or failing to accommodate possible audiences. What’s more, this simple step guarantees that you’re always operating on the right side of the law. Given the reputational and monetary damage that legal proceedings can cause, that’s always worth working towards.
Credit where it’s due
While this doesn’t apply if you use your own images, captions also provide the opportunity for you to give credit. Again, this can help avoid legal proceedings if you’re using royalty-free images. Even if you seek pictures from an outside company, something as simple as a caption with credit can help to maintain positive relationships. That’s an absolute must for keeping your reputation clean and ensuring you can use those same photographers down the line.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a pressing reason to use images, but it also provides an incentive to caption your pictures. That’s because, while the readability benefits of images are the most apparent search-engine benefit, SEO also relies heavily on keywords. By increasing your keyword usage through carefully-planned captions, you can guarantee that your relevance, and thus your search listings, soon start to soar. And, given that a high ranking on sites like Google is your best chance to entice a new target market quickly, we would say it’s well worth the added work you’ll need to put into design to make it happen.
Before you skip captions during your next design rehaul, you might find that it pays to think again. Your consumers and your profits will undoubtedly thank you for it.
Four of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money, Business/Entrepreneurship, Blogging/Writing and Technology. The advent of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has a created a new way of doing business for those involved. If you’re strictly writing for the love of it, or to increase your business, there are some keys to SEO. The following contributed post is entitled, How SEO Blog Posts Can Increase Profit.
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The power of words is often overlooked and relatively neglected by small businesses that are just starting out. Of course, the quality of the product or service you’re selling needs to be top notch – you need to have something that proves itself worth your customers’ financial investment. However, if you’re going to sell your goods and services in the first place, you’re going to have to use carefully crafted words to get there.
Words can play a major role in any sale. From effective product descriptions to catchy product names. But this isn’t the sole role of words in marketing. You can also use words to encourage people to visit your website and become exposed to your goods in the first place. This process is often referred to as SEO.
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. It involves using words on your webpage that not only offer human value (introducing people to what you have on offer and why they should buy it), but also search engine value. You want your website to appear as highly in search engine results as possible. The best way to go about this? Using carefully chosen keywords in SEO based blog posts.
The infographic by rankfire.agency below should help to introduce you to this concept and help you start crafting your own high-quality SEO blog posts before you know it! This could all aid sales and boost overall profits!
The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success, and a key focus is Blogging/Writing. Blogging is actually an art. If you’re thinking about becoming a blogger, there are a couple of keys to this fun artform. The following contributed post is entitled, What Kind Of Content Makes A Good Blog Post.
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In the modern day and age, and in a world that’s saturated with content, how are you meant to make your online creations stand out? There’s millions of people in the blogosphere, and you’ll only get to know maybe a handful of them – how do you compete with unknown names and faces, and even companies who have entire teams on their side?
Well, you start with your content strategy. You start with your research. Ultimately, you start with creating a tone and style people respond to, and that you’ll become known for. And to do that, you’re going to have to consider what makes a blog post good. And to help you do that, we’ve compiled a couple of the best tips below.
If you have an opinion on something, and it’s something that’s relevant to the type of blog you want to run, don’t be shy about letting people know what you think! Make sure you’re writing about what’s going on in your head, and what you think about what you see out there in the whole wide world – being organic, and thus being refreshing, can bring a lot of people to you door.
If you hold an opinion, there’s going to be at least 2 other people who agree with you. And at the start of your blogging journey, having those 2 people read and comment on your piece can feel absolutely amazing. After all, if you’ve been able to find and reach them, you’re going to be able to reach others.
Talking to Someone
Another one of the best ways to make sure you’re rolling out good content is to interview as many people as you can, who are related to your niche, and who you’d love to get to know a bit better. Take a leaf out of Anya Raza’s interview, if you’re not sure how to proceed with a blogging idea like this: reach out to a personality, perfect your pitch in asking them for a moment of their time, and then present them with interesting and unique questions.
As an interviewer, being able to stand out from the people who came before you is key – you want your interviewee to have a good (and interesting) time, and thus, to build a bridge through it. If you’re a memorable person, and what you ask gets to the heart of the issue your blog is trying to explore, you’re going to have a top quality piece to post on your blog the next day. So don’t be afraid to get networking with the ‘higher ups’; most of them are amenable, and it’s a great way to promote yourself to wider and higher circles.
Writing a good blog post can be extremely hard, seeing as most of us have our own personal preferences, and you’re never going to reach everyone! But knowing your niche, and knowing how versatile your content can be, is definitely key to standing out in your readers’ minds.
The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and some of it’s key focuses are Art, Authors and Books, Blogging/Writing and Music/Entertainment. Whether it’s the cinematic media, music, the visual arts, or some sort of writing we all have some sort of creative genius inside of us. If we’re to make good on our talents and share them with other people, how do we create fans and supporters of our work? The following contributed post is entitled, You Love Your Art, But How Do You Gain Fans Who Do Too?
If you’re struggling to create a career out of your artistic talents, then you’re not alone. There’s a reason that the idea of the struggling artist has become such a prevalent concept in pop culture. All artists struggle at some point; many of them struggle and suffer once they’ve become successful too. Still, it’s the price that many of us pay for the chance to share our innermost feelings and skills with the world. At the very least, every artist wants an audience or some sort of recognition. Of course, that’s hard to achieve. You love your art, but how do you gain fans who do too?
Find out what makes you unique. When Radiohead started out, they sounded similar to The Smiths and other big artists of the 80s. When J.K. Rowling first started the Harry Potter series, comparisons to Tolkien’s work were made frequently. Plenty of artists in all manner of creative industries have worn their influencs on their sleeves. There’s nothing wrong with being similar to other successful artists. However, you just need to find out what makes you unique. Both of those artists ended up finding their own way. They defined themselves in a unique way, and that’s what attracted listeners. You need to know what you want as an artist. That’s how you’ll figure out your own personal brand.
The best way to find out what makes you unique is to keep creating. Instead of worrying about perfecting every single song you release or every single story you write, you should simply focus on finishing your work. Never stop creating. Even if you don’t like the finished product, you’ll have learned something. You can’t get better without practice. So, make sure you finish every creative project that you start. Fallen out of love with the song you started writing yesterday? It doesn’t matter. Wrap it up. Record it. Even if it sits in a private folder on your computer because you’re too embarrassed to release it, the point is that you’ll have improved simply by committing to finishing the project you started. Otherwise, how will you get closer and closer to creating that one fantastic song? After all, even Dave Grohl said that Nirvana sounded terrible when they first started making music in a garage.
Learn from other successful artists. Another great way to ensure that your art reaches people and captures their attention in the long run is to learn from other successful artists. Everybody has to make mistakes before they can succeed, but why not avoid such mistakes by learning from those who have already made them? You might want to read about Mateus Asato’s early years. You could learn some things that help you to find your own way to success.
Pursue a creative career. It’s not easy to get paid for your art, so you probably have to work to make money to afford your creative endeavours (and pay for your rent, of course). That’s why your career itself should be creative. You shouldn’t settle for a job you hate in an industry which doesn’t inspire you. By pursuing a career in a creative industry, it might lead to better things. If you’re an aspiring writer, then you could intern for a newspaper. If you’re an aspiring actor, then you could search for other jobs at theatres as you keep trying to make your big break. Pursue a creative career if you want to turn your artistic passion into a career too.
The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success. The idea for this piece came to me at least six months ago. As a writer, sometimes you have ideas that roll around in your head for a while asking to be put on paper. Sometimes the timing isn’t right and then one day, that time comes. This blog post will bring together multiple topics: entrepreneurship, writing and life skills. In fact, I plan to gradually create a series just on writing and blogging, and I hope you enjoy this piece. The images used throughout this piece are from one of the business cards I had made up for myself, when I was a writer for the Examiner.
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“What are you getting for that?” Someone I dated several years ago asked me this question with a bit of snark and petulance in her voice. I suspect it was because she felt that she was competing with my writing activities which had become my passion. I was writing for the online publication, the Examiner, in addition to a host of other activities I was involved in. The Examiner had several rules for its writers, and one of the biggest rules was that contributors had to publish something at least once a month. So, during that time I was always literally ‘on the clock’. Once two weeks lapsed without publishing something, they’d send an automated email reminding you of their policy and its consequences.
“What are you getting for that?” I did receive ‘something’ from the Examiner as I pumped out article after article for them. The publication paid it’s writers on a commission, though it was admittedly only ‘peanuts’. It was by no means enough to pay the mortgage, and it was enough to only get a lunch from time to time. My significant other at the time was tickled when I told her what I typically got for the effort I was putting in.
The dollar amount I received didn’t necessarily bother me though, as deep in my heart I knew that I was after something else at that time. I was after something that couldn’t be easily spent up or paraded around. The most valuable compensation I received from the Examiner wasn’t the money, it was the experience!
“Have you ever thought about taking a writing class?” The impetus for writing for the Examiner was the dream of a book I wanted to write. On a visit back to Buffalo, I showed my mother, a trained writer herself, a sample of what I’d written. I watched nervously as she quietly read it on the couch. She softly responded with the above-mentioned question which was as they say, “letting me down easy.” The message clear though. I may have had some great story ideas, but I needed to learn how to write.
She was right, but I had to go forward with my dream somehow. Thanks to my friend George, I’d read the Passion Test and knew that I had to give it a legitimate try. But where was I going to learn how to write quality content consistently?
Two things happened at the same time right around 2014. I found The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD and took a couple of writing classes there. One was a personal short essay class, and the second was a beginner’s Science Fiction class. I also took a workshop about publishing.
“In order to become a writer, you have to read a lot and you have to write a lot!” As noted in the story of my blog, Dr. Gerald Early gave me this advice back in 1995 when he presented one of his books at the SUNY College at Brockport. He recommended that I could start writing for the school newspaper. I didn’t take his advice back then, but I remembered his advice 20 years later when a woman named Kelley recommended that I apply to write for the Examiner. By chance we met at a STEM fair at Bowie State University.
I subsequently applied to be an “Examiner” and they accepted me. I specifically applied to be an “Education Examiner” as everyone had to specialize in an area. What ensued was a writing adventure that lasted for two to three years. Education was a vast umbrella and I could make almost anything fit under it. I was particularly interested in: education, science, money and life stories about my path as a minority scientist and others.
In addition to their time stipulation, the Examiner had other guidelines. They didn’t want a ‘blogging’ format, so the use of “I” was limited and highly policed. They wanted large paragraphs to be broken up into smaller ones, and they wanted the pieces to be as short and concise as possible. They also gave us the Associated Press’s guidelines to follow for properly abbreviating states, for reporting dates and times, and even for what and what not to capitalize in the titles of our pieces. Lastly, we were to add hyperlinks to our pieces, but only legitimate sources. “Wikipedia” wasn’t considered a legitimate source.
Being on the board of directors of the Friends Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium, I had a guaranteed supply of stories nine months out of the year, and the board enjoyed the free coverage. In addition to any education or life-related pieces I wanted to write, there were always current events in the news that were worth discussing. The racial controversy in the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks’ locker room comes to mind. The blackness of quarterback Russell Wilson was questioned by some of his teammates which set off a firestorm.
The retired and controversial professional basketball player, Charles Barkley, openly talked about the black community’s, “dirty dark secret”, regarding education and, “talking white”, which further fanned the controversy. With my own experiences, I wrote a piece backing up Barkley which temporarily vaulted me into the number one ranked education writer, as it was so racially charged.
When you logged into your online ‘dashboard’, the Examiner ranked its top five or 10 writers in your area. The number one spot was usually held by a woman who I’ll call “Nancy G”. Nancy must’ve written for the Examiner fulltime and didn’t have a ‘nine to five’, because she was always pumping out content.
It was amazing. Some of the black commenters were so worked up over my supporting Barkley’s position, that they confronted me in the comment section of the article which surprised me. It was very educational as I learned about how people can be racially ‘triggered’, even by members of their own race over things that are true. I’ll probably revisit this in the future.
I eventually learned that the internet is like a vast ocean where people are looking and fishing for different things. As a writer, unless you see your number of subscribers rise, or you see your social media likes/shares spike, you don’t know who is looking at your pieces. That said people are out there watching you, even when you don’t know it.
In January of 2015, I was contacted and offered the opportunity to interview actor Hill Harper regarding his collaboration with the National Honor Society (NHS) on its “Honor Your Future Now” campaign. Afterwards I also got to interview the President of the NHS, Dr. Jonathan Mathis. It was a lot of fun and something I never thought that I would do. It was the first of many interviews that I’d do when writing for them.
“You should work to learn, as opposed to learning to work!” This quote from Robert Kiyosaki’s anonymous “Rich Dad” is one of the many riddles found within the Rich Dad Poor Dad series. In his books, Robert’s core messages are about wealth creation and financial independence. He discusses how individuals who are interested in becoming ‘investors’ and ‘business owners’ should be willing to first seek out the knowledge they need to create their wealth, even if it means working with someone or on projects, for little or nothing simply to acquire the knowledge, experience and expertise which can be leveraged later.
This was in part what I was doing as I wrote for the Examiner. I was acquiring the experience as I had other bigger projects in mind further down the road. Up to that point though, I hadn’t had any experience writing my own pieces, and publishing them. One of the biggest rules the Examiner warned us about up front, was that of ‘quality control’. That is every piece we published had to be polished and ‘squeaky clean’ in terms of grammar.
In 2013 I gained a “Press Credential” at the “Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference”. I had published pieces for the Examiner for at least two years and earned the right to directly publish my pieces and bypass their editors. I was hoping to get ‘news worthiness’ for the piece which meant that it had to go up within 48 hours of the conclusion of the event.
Either by doing too many things at once, or just becoming complacent, I tried to publish an overview of the conference which was riddled with errors. One of the main errors was a misspelling of then President Barrack Obama’s name. The Examiner staff flagged it and reprimanded me. I was so embarrassed as I read their editorial comments.
It was my second or third piece which was below standard and my right to publish without the editor’s approval was revoked. I should’ve known better, but before the Examiner eventually closed its doors, I got the privilege back, though I had to earn it. The lesson was clear; don’t attempt to publish poor quality work – a lesson I’ve brought with me here to my own blog.
What I got from writing for the Examiner making ‘peanuts’ was the experience – something money can’t buy. The hours of writing, creating content, and my mother editing my pieces were all to set up some other writing projects I’d always dreamed of writing, and to be able to start my own blog. Back to Robert Kiyosaki’s riddle, depending upon what you’re doing, and what you want to do, acquiring the experience is the critical piece which sets you up to make the money later. It’s one of the reasons he and others stress being “life-long learners”.
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In the process of writing and earning those peanuts from the Examiner, I gained the experience, confidence and I developed my own writing process which includes:
• The initial conception of the idea;
• Creating the first draft of the idea;
• Revising the piece two-three times, and approving of it myself before sending it for final editing by someone else and;
• Making any revisions after final editing as some last-minute ideas sometimes trickle in.
Much of this is not new by the way. I do liken it though to what Berry Gordy learned from working in the automobile industry. He learned the process of creating quality cars and then he translated that knowledge into creating quality records. So, in summary, while earning peanuts while writing for the Examiner, I learned:
• To write quality content (my own ideas and actual events); • To use visuals with the pieces (with attribution when necessary); • To add quality hyperlinks to my pieces; • To write using the Associated Press’s guidelines when applicable; • To identify specific ‘tag’ words (used five times) in my pieces so that the piece will more readily show up in any Google searches and finally; • To add the links to my other work at the end of pieces to allow readers to see what else I’ve written in that area or others.
I incorporate all these elements here on my blog. So, yes, sometimes to perfect your craft, or to learn from an expert/mentor, you may need to do it for free or next to nothing. As Stephen Covey stated in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “Highly effective people start off with the end in mind!” Furthermore, as Stephen King said in On Writing, if it’s something you love doing, no one will have to force you to do it, and you will likely do it for little or nothing, at least initially anyway.
In closing, thanks to the advent of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), my blog-platform has begun generating more than just peanuts and I’ll just leave it at that. Again, this will be the first of many pieces I’ll generate on blogging and writing. Stay tuned for more. I want to thank the Examiner for letting me contribute to their website.
I want to acknowledge my mother’s eldest sister, my Auntie Melva for introducing the money-term ‘peanuts’ into my vocabulary as a kid. I first heard her use it in one of her many spirited discussions one day with her siblings. That might’ve been my first time in life comprehending that words in the English language can have multiple meanings.
I finally want to thank my mother for helping me along on this adventure. She’s edited most of my stuff. Also, many of the seeds for this were planted several years ago in elementary school when she insisted that my brother and me learn proper typing technique. Neither of us understood why we were doing it at the time.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. The following articles that I wrote for the Examiner which have been updated, revised and republished here on the Big Words Blog Site:
If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and or leave a comment. To receive all the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site. Please visit my YouTube channel entitled, Big Discussions76. You can follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, and Twitter at @BWArePowerful. Lastly, you can follow me on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.
The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and a key focus is Blogging and Writing. Blogging and can be a fun adventure for those who choose to explore it. There are some key pieces to consider when starting to write, and before launching off into this area. The following contributed post is entitled, Find Your Voice in The Blogosphere.
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You read them all the time, you know that they’re attached to the sites of many business websites but write a blog for yourself? Why would you? Blogs are what travelling twenty-somethings do or lifestylers write about. How could a blog possibly help your business out?
It’s a great question and one that we’re going to explore in this…blog. We’ll also take a look at what makes a great blog and what makes a bad one. Read on to discover why your voice is important and how to showcase it to work better for your business.
You may have a list of your go-to bloggers that tick all the boxes when it comes to what you read online. If you have a particular hobby then no doubt you’ve discovered a blogger who is informative, interesting and whose stories you follow for top tips, advice and discussion.
When you’re looking for specific advice you might use a Google search and find plenty of results that point you towards blogs as well as official websites for organisations.
Take a look at some of the websites you regularly visit and in particular any blogs that you enjoy. Ask yourself what it is about these blogs that make it worth your while coming back to again and again?
You’ll probably decide it’s a mix of great writing style, up to date and relevant content and something that makes it visually appealing. There may be more features but for now we’ll concentrate on these three.
Your business blog is your opportunity to have your voice heard in your industry. This voice has to be your authentic self and it has to show authority and knowledge while being able to connect with the human touch. Think about your style as you begin to write. Focus on sounding authoritative but delivering that message in the way you would talk to a colleague, friendly and in a non-patronising manner.
It can take a while to get this style down properly, so have a friend read over your first few attempts. Don’t worry about the content for now, just write about something you know and see if you’ve got the tone down pat.
You may have heard about SEO writing and keywords. If you are trying to fit keywords into your blog then you must make them sound natural. One thing that is guaranteed to knock your writing style off kilter is a blog that sounds unnatural and forced so be careful about how you use them and if necessary just stick to writing without SEO formats in mind.
Whoever said content was king was quite right. This is where the war is won or lost. With up to date and relevant content you are going to attract your reader and have them coming back for more. If you’re writing about your business, try and think a little outside of the box. There are only so many times you can tell your customer how great your product is so think about taking it down to a more personal level. How did you get into your line of business? What’s your background? Personalising your blog helps people better connect to you and to your product.
Keep your content updated weekly, do not let it drift and make sure you’re writing around 1,000 words to create a blog that looks serious, engaging and that is worth reading.
Remember The Visuals
You may not need to go down the route of 3D rendering from your blog, thanks to www.gswanimation.com but making sure your blog looks good is vital. A wall of text is simply going to put off a lot of people but great images, an embedded video and so on are what turns good blogs into great blogs. It shows that you take your communication with your customer seriously. That you want to engage with them at the highest level and provide them with information about you and your business that is accessible, informative and simply a good read.
Take your blog to the next level and your business will soon follow. Blog for yourself, blog for your business and get talking to your customers. Find your style, fill your blog with content that sparkles and images that attract your customer to a blog that looks great as well as reads great.
Blogging isn’t just for everyone else, it’s for you too. Find your voice today and get that blog underway.