Three focuses of my blog are Blogging/Writing, Business/Entrepreneurship and Technology. As a blogger, there are several aspects to consider. If you want to become successful, you want to have a handle on the technological side of your operation in addition to be a proficient writer. The following contributed post is entitled, 10 Steps To Enhance Your User Experience.
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You’ve decided to start a blog, and now you want to make money blogging. This means that you need users and lots of them. But how can we ensure we reach our desired audience?
User Experience (UX) refers to the overall experience with an app, site, or product, whether it’s good or bad. The goal of UX is to make the user’s interaction as simple and effective as possible. Whether you use Cloud Development Environments or entry-level applications, here are 10 steps to enhance your UX:
1 – Optimize Your Clicks
Users don’t like waiting around, especially when they are used to partaking in tasks quickly. If they click on something and have to wait for it to load, they’re going to get annoyed.
This can be as simple as making sure that links on your site aren’t taking too long to load or as complicated as altering the layout of your page so that content loads faster.
2 – Create a Blog That Appeals to Your Target Audience
If you’re going into fashion blogging, you don’t want to have a blog that appeals to people who are into technology or sports.
You also need to consider your content; if your target audience is women between the ages of 35-45, you’ll need to alter how you present information so that they’re more likely to be interested in it.
3 – Make Sure Your Blog Has a Reliable Host
It doesn’t matter how amazing your blog looks or what information it contains if nobody can access it. Many internet users will immediately leave a site if there is an outage, even if the outage only lasts a few minutes.
This isn’t as easy as getting a hosting service and putting up some HTML code anymore. You need to be able to provide fast, secure hosting to users.
4 – Optimize Your Site Search Function
People often don’t like searching around on sites, especially if they’re used to only having the information that’s relevant to them right in front of their face. This means that you need to ensure that your site search function is working properly and that it doesn’t take too long to find the information that a user is looking for.
5 – Write Content That People Want to Read
This may sound like an obvious one as it’s something that many bloggers start out doing; however, you need to make sure that you’re offering interesting content to your audience.
6 – Make Sure You Offer Relevant Advertising
This might sound like you need to skip adding advertising if it doesn’t make sense for the type of blog you are running. However, it’s important to ensure that your ads are relevant because this can affect your site visitors just as much as slow load times.
7 – Optimize Your Images
It may seem like an unimportant detail, but it’s not. Images are just as important to bloggers today as they were fifty years ago with paper magazines. You can use several different tools to add images onto your blog, including free options such as Imgur and more advanced programs like Photoshop.
8 – Offer Users Their Social Media Links Easily Accessible
Many bloggers may not see this as an important priority, but they must do it. One of the most common complaints people have with different sites is that they’re very difficult to find.
The best websites are the ones that offer users their social media links easily accessible because this allows them to share your content more quickly and with other people if it’s particularly interesting.
9 – Organize Your Content Clearly With Headings and Subheadings
It doesn’t matter how attractive, well-written or informative your content is if it isn’t organized properly. People expect to find each piece of information on a blog easily without having to read through the whole thing at once.
You can use headings and subheadings to help separate your content into easily accessible chunks that people can check out quickly.
10 – Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile Friendly
Google is now penalizing sites that aren’t mobile-friendly, and the number of people who use their phone or tablet to browse the internet is increasing all of the time.
With this in mind, you need to make sure that your site is set up in a way that will be easy for people to access, whether they’re using a mobile phone or a tablet device. You need to avoid using pop-up adverts, and you also need to ensure that the site doesn’t take too long to load.
For your blog to hope to be successful, it needs to be easy to find, navigate, and use. If it isn’t, you’re likely to lose a lot of potential readers before they ever get started with your content.
Two focuses of my blog are Blogging/Writing and Business/Entrepreneurship. When you start a blog, you have to think about ways to get your messaging out and expanding your reach. There’s a lot more to it than just having insightful and well-crafted pieces. The following contributed post is entitled, The Best Blogger Outreach Ideas.
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Blogger outreach, sometimes known as influencer marketing, is when bloggers and businesses work together to create promotional content. In most cases, the business will provide the blogger with samples of products or services in return for a review, or offer as prizes in a giveaway hosted by the blogger. Sometimes both are done, to maximize the results. Blogger outreach can be an effective part of a digital strategy to build brand recognition.
The type of blogger outreach that you decide to do and that will work best for you will depend on your business, and there are lots of great options to choose from. You can manage your own blogger outreach, or you can work with a company like FATJOE who already has a list of contacts for you to work with, cutting a lot of work out for you!
These are posts that you pay a blogger to write and publish, with mentions of and links to your brand. The amount a post like this will cost you will depend on the influence of the blogger, as well as the kind of post you want. Make sure you agree on terms beforehand.
Remember that the Advertising Standards Authority states that a blogger must always declare when they have been paid for a post, so they will need to use a clear disclaimer on the post you pay them for.
Another option is to send out your products to bloggers in return for a review, whether in the form of a blog post, photos on social media, or videos. Remember that bloggers will not guarantee a positive review, so make sure whatever you send them is great, so that what they tell their followers about you is good.
A product feature is similar to a review. However, instead of reviewing it, the blogger will feature your product as part of a larger post. For example, they might include your jewelry in a gift guide around Christmas time, or mention your walking shoes in a post about a hiking trip they’ve taken.
Giveaways can be incredibly effective for both the brand and the blogger. The brand provides the prize and the blogger will host the competition, which could be on their blog, YouTube channel, or social media channels. Giveaways are a great way to gain followers and exposure.
If you prefer the idea of real-life to digital, then running a blogger event could be for you. You invite bloggers and other influencers to attend an event that will showcase your brand, such as launching a new product range, in exchange for them covering the event. This is a great way to boost your brand with coverage from a lot of bloggers at once.
You could create event hashtags to give you a clearer idea of what the return on investment is. Blogger events do take a lot of time and effort to organize, but the payoff can be well worth it.
A key focus of my blog is Blogging and Writing. Starting a blog is one thing and it’s a lot of fun, but you also must know how to boost it so that you can maximize its reach so that it achieve its full potential. The following contributed post is entitled, How To Boost Your Blog With Ease.
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Running a blog can be a truly rewarding experience, but it takes time and energy to attract sufficient attention and make a healthy profit. Luckily, learning how to boost your blog doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might expect, as there are several simple tips and tricks that you can make the most of to reach a wide audience in no time at all. So, if you would like to find out more, then read on to uncover some of the best steps that you can utilise now!
The way that you present your blog can have a dramatic impact on the way that it is received, as a site that maintains poor quality visuals may be disregarded due to an obvious lack of creativity and care. There are many different styles and themes that you can explore to add a little flare to your blog, but it’s important to remember not to go overboard. Having a jumbled mess of pictures, patterns, colours and more is no doubt going to be overwhelming, and such a loud aesthetic can distract the reader from what they came for – your content! Such a theme that contains too many different features and add ons will even encourage your blog to take far longer to load when clicked in the browser, and this may inspire new visitors to simply click back and find a quicker website. The best theme that you can choose to get the most out of your platform is a minimalist style, as you can include a few key features and colours without going overboard. Minimalist designs always look sleek and professional, and such a theme will even help to make your blog more accessible. If you’re a little stuck on what features contribute towards a classic minimalist blog design then do not fret, as there are so many resources online that you can utilise to learn the ropes in no time at all.
Improve Your Rank
Your ranking in search engine results pages will contribute massively toward your overall success, as you must make an effort to boost your blog right to the top if you want to attract sufficient attention. Simply creating a beautiful website that maintains interested and inspiring content is not enough to succeed in the modern blogging world, as there’s far too much competition for you to fight against in order to make your way onto the screens of budding readers around the world. One of the easiest ways to improve your ranking is by getting in touch with an experienced SEO company, as they have all of the necessary skills required to catapult your platform as high as it can go. They’ll show you how to utilise long and short tail keywords, backlinks and so much more to ensure that your blog has a great chance at success.
Boosting your blog has never been so simple when you can take the time to make the most of the brilliant tips and tricks that have been carefully described above! So what are you waiting for?
As described in the story of my blog, I wrote for the Examiner prior to starting the Big Words Blog Site. One of the things I realized when starting my own blog was that I now had to do everything myself besides just the writing. The Examiner was a massive operation in itself, and a business that had systems in place for everything, i.e., quality assurance, technical support, and advertising/promotion/monetization of its content. Starting my own blog meant that I had to do all of that which also involved managing unforeseen challenges. Some of the major challenges involved cyberattacks, promotion of my content, and managing my social media’s ‘metadata’.
When writing for the Examiner, even if we, the writers, didn’t promote our own work, the publication did it in the form of grouping and promoting the popular pieces of the week in mass email correspondences (email blasts). I also noticed that all over the Examiner’s site there were advertisements from marketers, which is in large part how the Examiner and other publications made money. They tossed some of the ‘crumbs’ to us which was in large part driven by the clicks and views our writings generated. Through writing for the Examiner one of the biggest lessons I learned among other things, was that while much of our population wastes time on it and in some instances misuses it, social media is an important tool for writers who want to grow their audiences in modern times.
Metadata and Social Media Plugins
When I set out to create my own blog, I needed to understand the conceptual and technical aspects of doing it and thus purchased a copy of Blogging for Dummies. Unfortunately, I only got halfway through it before purchasing my webhosting services from ‘GoDaddy’, my ‘Word Press’ site, and my unique web domain name/URL (Uniform Resource Locator). When initially setting up the Big Words Blog Site, I realized that none of the social media buttons that were available on the Examiner and other websites were visible on my site. After going to back into Blogging for Dummies, I learned that these were called ‘plugins’, and there were multiple free options to choose from in the Word Press store.
I chose the Word Press Social Sharing Optimization plugin because it gave me and my readers the buttons for the social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Buffer and others. Though I didn’t understand it at the time, I also read that the information captured by these buttons – the ‘likes/shares’ were called the ‘metadata’ described above which updates in real time whenever someone likes or shares your work.
As a writer, until you’ve built up your audience in the way of a Twitter following or through subscribership, your metadata is critical in terms of knowing the popularity of your content. It also tells new visitors to your site how others have reacted to your work. Many readers click on your content and read it, but don’t necessarily comment. Ideally, you’ll get clicks, likes/shares and comments from each reader, but that’s not always the case.
My Blog’s First Cyberattack
Up until early February of 2018, I didn’t really have any significant issues with my Word Press site. Well actually, there was one instance where I temporarily broke it by continuously adding and removing one of the plugins, probably for something cosmetic. Afterwards, the site wouldn’t load, but fortunately my webhost, GoDaddy, restored its settings from the previous day as they were continuously backing it up; something I recommend for all bloggers and website owners.
My first cyberattack came on a Saturday morning (or probably the night before). I had just published my interview with Dr. Cedric Bright, and it was getting lots of clicks and views based upon support from people in his network. I woke up that Saturday morning to an unfortunate surprise. My site, which I had opened and logged into hundreds and maybe thousands of times, was now ‘redirecting’ to a site I was unfamiliar with in the United Kingdom. After contacting my webhost, GoDaddy, it was determined that some form of ‘malware’ had infiltrated my site causing it to redirect. I hadn’t significantly invested in any security measures up to that point and to make a long story short, there were numerous entry points that the malware could have entered. In the meantime, all my operations had ground to a screeching halt.
As GoDaddy set out to fix my site, days went on and I pondered whether I might have to start the Big Words Blog Site all over from scratch, which would have taken a little bit of work because all the pieces were saved in various folders. And all of the comments I received on some of my most popular pieces would have been gone, as well as all of my metadata from the previous two years. It took about almost two weeks, but GoDaddy was able to remove the malware and I could use my site again. There was yet another surprise though.
SSL Certificates and Losing My Metadata
Once my site had been salvaged, I realized something was missing – the metadata for my social media plugins. My cover page, for example, had approximately 8,500 Facebook likes/shares prior to the cyberattack and now the number was zero. When I called GoDaddy initially to inquire about why my site was redirecting, the associate kindly pointed out that Saturday morning that my site didn’t have an ‘SSL Certificate’, something I hadn’t paid attention to out of the thousands of websites I’d visited in my lifetime.
SSL is an acronym for ‘Secure Sockets Layer’, a global standard security technology that enables encrypted communication between a web browser and a web server. My URL (Uniform Resource Locator) was an http and not an https, where the ‘s’ designates the possession of an SSL Certificate. I was informed that I would need the SSL Certificate for my site to gain a much better standing in Google’s search algorithm. Hearing this, I bought the certificate, and my site was likewise converted to an https from an http.
Restoring My Metadata
The reason all of my social media likes and shares disappeared was because of the very thing I had just paid for, my SSL Certificate which converted my site to an https instead of http. The problem is that the Facebook plugin on my site was created under the http. When I converted to the https, Facebook no longer recognized the 8,500 likes/shares from my plugin because it was now essentially a different URL. From a technical standpoint, the “Application Programming Interface” (API) between my blogging platform and the social media sites was altered.
How was I going to get my 8,500 likes and shares back? Could I get them back? Needless to say, I was very frustrated and didn’t know how I’d solve this problem. At some point I had a ‘lightbulb moment’ and decided to simply ask Google. It turned out that I wasn’t the only blogger to encounter this quagmire, and another quick Google search led me to an article with a bunch comments which ultimately led me a company called Social Warfare. Social Warfare sold their own social media plugins and had a feature through their ‘pro package’ which allowed metadata to be retrieved when bloggers like myself unknowingly converted from an http to an https designation.
By purchasing the new Social Warfare Pro Plugins package I now had a plan for restoring my metadata. After uploading the pro plan’s Zip file, I activated the function to retrieve my data and anxiously watched as the numbers gradually ticked upwards, which they did for the most part over a series of days. All throughout my site, the Facebook likes were restored, and I was at ease for a little while until the next set of challenges emerged.
In closing, I think it’s worth noting that while I approached starting my blog as a personal project, you can also hire someone to do it who has all the expertise, assuming you have funds to invest in those services. That may save you some of the ups and downs I described in this piece. You may save some time, but you also won’t learn those valuable lessons. It’s essentially one of life’s many tradeoffs. I think it’s also worth noting that based upon my science training, which was technology intensive and involved learning new methods and techniques on the fly, I felt equipped to build my platform myself once I learned about the available applications and tools.
I was fortunate to be able to monetize my blogging platform in 2017 and build a business around it. I’ve learned that, as a business owner, one has to problem solve and think of creative solutions when disaster strikes without warning (which is usually how it strikes). Sometimes it is creating the solution on your own, and sometimes the solution is out there, and you only need the intellectual curiosity to find it.
The other thing is that you’re forced to learn and evolve when things go wrong unexpectedly, and it did in this instance with my blogging platform. In addition to some of these technical aspects I learned about running a blogging platform in this post (an ongoing process), I also wanted to communicate these general lessons I learned about running a business, and I hope you were able to get something out of this blogger’s tale. Look for more in the future and thank you for reading this.
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. You can follow me now on YouTube on any of my Big Discussions76 channels, the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, and Twitter at @BWArePowerful. Lastly you can follow me on Instagram at @anwaryusef76.
Two key focuses of my blog are Blogging and Writing, and Technology. For new bloggers, there is much more to blogging than simply having novel and exciting writing ideas. There are also strategic and technological considerations as well. Once you understand these elements, you can have a lot of fun and achieve your goals, whatever those are. The following contributed post is entitled, Ways to Enhance Your Blog for Modern Audiences.
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Things on the internet are constantly shifting and changing. So if you’re still blogging in the same ways you were 10 years ago, you’re probably not doing it right anymore. That might sound harsh but if you want to enhance your blog and reach an ever wider readership, you really do need to keep in mind the needs of modern audiences.
If you think now might be the right time for you to start making changes to your blog and how it operates, we’re here to help you with that. There are many ways in which you can make your blog more modern and meet the needs of modern audiences.
Each of the tips we’re about to discuss will help you get the fundamentals of good blogging right. And by doing that, you can ensure your blog is fit for purpose for a long time to come. So read on now to find out more about what you need to know about enhancing your blog for modern audiences.
Make Sure the Blog is Properly Categorized
First of all, you’re going to need to make sure that your blog is organized and planned out in the correct and proper way. That means putting proper categories in place and ensuring your posts are tagged correctly can be found in their corresponding category. It’s a simple thing but it matters.
It’s about making sure that people can find what they’re looking for when they visit your blog. If the task of finding content becomes difficult and frustrating for them, they’re definitely not going to stick around for long and you can be sure of that. So it’s worth taking the time to make your blog navigable.
Make Sharing Content Simple
You should also make it as easy as possible for people to share your content. If people are having difficulties finding that share button, they won’t share your post; it’s as simple as that. After all, they’re not gaining much by sharing your content.
It’s you who benefits when your readers enjoy a post and subsequently want to share it with their followers online. You should use share buttons and layouts that make it easy for them to do this. It’s not rocket science but it’s certainly something that you’ll need to go out of your way to put in place.
Use Clear CTAs
What do you want your readers to do? Calls to action are very important on most modern blogs and that’s something that can’t be denied. You should try to find a CTA that’s relevant to your blog and that your customers can get something out of.
Maybe you have an email list and you can use a CTA to prompt visitors to sign up to it. This is good for you because it affords you greater email marketing opportunities going forward, but it’s also something that can appeal to your readers too because they’ll then be able to read your regular newsletter.
Cross-Link to Other Relevant Content
As a blogger, you want to make sure that people are visiting as many pages on your blog and reading as many posts as possible each time they visit. Ideally, you don’t want them to simply read one post and then leave again. And cross-linking is the way to get this right.
So whenever you write a post, take the time to find other posts that are connected to it or relevant to the subject of the post in some way. When you do that, you can link to those posts within your current post. This will encourage clicks and encourage readers to stick around for longer.
Use a Web Design Service if You Don’t Have the Necessary Skills
If you don’t have web design skills and you want to update the aesthetic of your blog, you should definitely think about using a web design service such as Caltech Web. These days, people expect a lot from a blog and they might be immediately put off if your blog looks outdated.
There’s nothing more revealing about a blog’s age and relevance than the design. If the design looks like it hasn’t been changed in 15 years or more, then you’ve got a problem. You should try to update it at the earliest opportunity.
Learn to Write More Appealing Headlines
It’s imperative to create headlines that are going to make people want to click and read your content. That doesn’t mean that you create headlines that are false and misleading because that’s not the answer to this issue either; a balance needs to be struck.
Learn to write headlines that are interesting, catchy and appealing. They should be relatively short and to the point, and you can then follow them up with longer subheadings that help to give the reader a better idea and understanding about what they can expect from the post.
Ensure There’s Great Visual Content
The right images and other kinds of visual content will be vital on your blog. If you want to make sure that people stick around and pay attention to your blog, you need to be using visual content in one way or another. This helps break up the text and keeps things interesting for the reader.
There are so many examples of visual content that can be used, from good images to video content to infographics. Make an effort to include as much of that stuff as possible in your posts if you want to keep them interesting and visually appealing.
Be Open to Collaborating with Others
These days, it’s very common for bloggers to collaborate with other bloggers and online personalities. This might not be something that you’re used to doing, but it can be a great way to keep your readership interested and to expand your reach and make your blog known to more people.
You should try to be more open to collaborating with others because there are benefits. It can be as simple as guest blogging, so if you haven’t tried that before, it’s a good place to start for you. It could do more for you than you might expect.
These days, there are so many analytics tools out there to help you understand your audience better than ever before. You should definitely be making the most of these because you can then optimize and improve your content when you have a fuller understanding of what your audience actually wants.
Take the time to understand keywords and search terms that you feel are relevant to your blog and your target audience. You’ll be able to capture readers better and ensure relevant people have the chance to see and click your links via search engines with the right SEO approach.
Write About Those Things
Writing about the things you find out your audience is interested in is key. You need to be offering up content that’s relevant to your audience otherwise they simply won’t keep reading it. It’s as simple as that. Do your best to make sure that you don’t leave your audience behind.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t express yourself and explore new ideas through your blog content because you can. But the desire to do that also needs to be balanced with the needs and wants of your audience members.
Keep Your Content Readable
Readability is an important factor when it comes to writing blog posts. If your style or writing becomes too unwieldy and complex, people will likely turn away. Keep sentences relatively short and always read over your posts before publishing them, and do so with readability in mind.
You might even want to hire an editor or simply ask a friend to read the post over before it gets published. An outside perspective and an extra set of eyes can make a huge difference when it comes to assessing the readability of your work. That extra person might point out some things you haven’t noticed yourself.
Respond to the Responses
Interaction is key as a blogger. As your blog’s audience starts to develop and grow, you’ll find that people are interacting with you on social media before and maybe leaving comments under your blog posts. If that’s the case, you should try your best to respond.
People will really appreciate that added interaction that comes with doing so. They’ll see the human and personal side to you and as such they’ll feel much better connected to your personal brand and the blog you run. That can only be a good thing from the perspective of retaining readers.
Blogging is a challenge and there are no quick fixes or easy answers. If you want to get to where you need to be with your blog, it’ll only come about through hard work and action. Make the most of the ideas above, but don’t feel confined to these changes. Find your own way forward; it’s your blog after all.
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. 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.