content top

The Most Important Question You Will Ever Ask About Your Blog or Content

The Most Important Question You Will Ever Ask About Your Blog or Content

Actually, it is the most important thing you can ask about anything you think, you do or you want. If such an important question exists, why won’t most readers have a clue what this question is? I think it is because we are not taught to ask tough questions about what we do, what we want, or in this case as a blogger, what we write. It is ingrained in our culture that we simply follow our impulses without stopping to ask this very important question… a question that could make us face the fact what we FEEL like doing might not match what we SHOULD be doing. With regards to writing blog content, this question allows us to take an honest look at what we are producing to make sure that it really does serve the purpose that we intend. Hopefully that purpose is to benefit our readers in various ways such as educating or entertaining. Like most things in life, the most effective and powerful things are surprisingly simple. That is supremely true when it comes to the most important question you can ever ask about the content you put on your blog: So What? Two words. Those two words represent the most effective and objective filter you can use to make sure that your blog content is going to be successful. You should ask yourself “so what?” before you start writing, as you write, as you rewrite, and when you click the publish button. “So what?” should be a question that runs through your mind continually about every aspect of your entire blog, but especially your writing. Those two little words force you to answer these types of questions not only about a single blog post but about the entire body of content you present on your blog: Does it matter to my reader? What does it do for my readers? Will it make a difference to the reader? Will my readers be able to answer the question “so what?” positively or will they be left thinking “so what, who cares”. It forces you as the writer to evaluate the effectiveness, usefulness, clarity and practicality of your content. If You Cannot Answer “So What?” Neither Can Your Readers If you cannot definitively answer “so what” in a positive way, how can you expect your readers too? Whether people articulate it or not, subconsciously they are continually asking the question “so what?” This question is another way of asking “was it worth my time?”, “Is it useful to me?”, “Can I do something practical or beneficial with this information?” When you get done reading this blog post I’m writing, ask yourself “so...

Read More

Nine & One Half Golden Principles of Great Writing

Nine & One Half Golden Principles of Great Writing

There are timeless, proven principles of good writing. Even if you aren’t naturally gifted at writing, following these guidelines can elevate you to the status of a competent writer. Add a little creativity (which anyone can develop) and you can be a good writer. Mix in some God-given natural talent and you’ll be on the way to being a great writer if you do the hard work. In this post I’m going to cover nine and one half golden principles of writing. You could list about a hundred, and they have all been around since God wrote the 10 commandments demonstrating perfect use of these principles. I claim no original thoughts here, just the effort of spitting them out in my own style of teaching. We’ll cover: Write Like a Grave Stone: Keeping the End in Mind Six Basic Types of Writing: Knowing the Structure Less Is More: Knife the Unnecessary Words Break It Down for the Reader: Let Them Know What You Want Them to Know Make It About You but Not About You: Personalizing Grabs the Person Help the Reader Across the Puddle: Use Transition Words to Guide and Connect Don’t, and Do, Use Long Sentences:  Length Makes a Big Difference Simple Is Not Simply Simple: Writing for the Reader Birds of a Feather Live on the Page Together: Organizing the Content Write Like a Grave Stone: Keeping the End in Mind No, it doesn’t mean to write like you’re going to kill your readers with boredom. What do you typically find on a gravestone? Answer: an epitaph. An epitaph is a summary of the person’s life. Usually it’s untrue because it’s written by someone who doesn’t want to put “here lies a jerk, and life’s a whole lot easier now that he’s gone”. Imagine though, if you could write your own epitaph while still alive and then live your life in such a way as to make the epitaph come true. This is how you should write. By that I mean you should keep the end in mind at the beginning. In other words, begin your writing by stating exactly where you’re going to end up. Tell the reader up front what you’re going to tell them. Write from the top down. This goes against our logical flow of thinking where we naturally want to write all of the supporting details and then wrap it up by telling the reader what it is we want them to learn, understand or experience. Instead, what you want to do is present the goal (epitaph) right up front so 1) you are assuring reader interest if they continue, and 2) you are helping the...

Read More

Reader Question: Can you have the “full size image” open in a new window?

Reader Question: Can you have the “full size image” open in a new window?

A reader asks: First of all, thank you so much for all your help and answers to my past questions! On my blog when an image is put on a post, if you click on the image, it will open up to see a larger, closer view. This is great and I really appreciate that you can then see more details i the artwork that I do. However, is there a way where this can be done to open up into a new window? Like how you explained to add target=”_blank” to a link, so that it will open up in a new window. Can this be typed also into the images info on the HTML codes? Or is there some thing else that can be typed, so that this can be done? Answer: You can use “target=_blank” in ANY “<a>” tag no matter what the “<a>” tag encloses. You can wrap an image, text or other object in the “<a>” tag like this: <a href=”www.yourlink.com” target=”_blank”>Your text, image or object here</a> Just put “target=_blank” anywhere in the opening “a” tag to cause it to open to new window. If you use Blogger to upload an image, they put a lot of long attributes into the whole string, but that doesn’t matter. As long as the “target=_blank” is somewhere in the opening “a” tag, it will work. Here’s samples from a Blogger upload, and then a more simple one from WordPress (which is also just plain old standard HTML except for the “mce_href” which is WordPress specific). Check them out… Examples Blogger Produced Code Using Blogger Upload: <a target="_blank" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_EClCPe6YvE8/SpVCv9UKhhI/AAAAAAAAA2E/RlHpWbX9YJQ/s1600-h/0215099.jpg" mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_EClCPe6YvE8/SpVCv9UKhhI/AAAAAAAAA2E/RlHpWbX9YJQ/s1600-h/0215099.jpg" onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}"><img id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5374275122016978450" style="cursor: pointer; width: 320px; height: 156px;" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_EClCPe6YvE8/SpVCv9UKhhI/AAAAAAAAA2E/RlHpWbX9YJQ/s320/0215099.jpg" mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_EClCPe6YvE8/SpVCv9UKhhI/AAAAAAAAA2E/RlHpWbX9YJQ/s320/0215099.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></a> WordPress and Standard HTML <a target=”_blank” href=”http://www.brentriggs.com/blogpics/0215099.jpg”><img class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-155″ title=”0215099″ src=”http://www.mcklinkyblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/0215099-300×146.jpg” mce_src=”http://www.mcklinkyblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/0215099-300×146.jpg” alt=”0215099″ width=”300″ height=”146″ /></a> Remember, you can link just about any object or piece of text in HTML. And if you can link it, the “target=_blank” will cause it to open in a new window....

Read More

Five Questions You Must Regularly Ask Yourself About Your Blog

Five Questions You Must Regularly Ask Yourself About Your Blog

There are basic questions that every blogger must ask themselves about their blog, and not just once. It is critically important for a new blogger, but as a recent event reminded me, even long time bloggers need to occasionally revisit these questions: Does my blog have a clear and well-defined purpose? Can a first time visitor easily get to the content? Is my blog about “me” or about the reader? Can my content be quickly and easily scanned? Do I have headlines, formatting and visuals that will cause someone to want to read my posts? I’ve been blogging and writing for a long time but had not done any serious critique of my blogs in a year or two.  A peer review last week of one of my blogs was a stark wake up call that I had fallen into some lazy and ineffective habits. The content was still being produced but the “house” where it lived was in shambles.  It was an uncoordinated, “shoot from the hip” effort that stemmed from a subconscious mindset of “I already know what I’m doing”. It resulted in a blog that was hard for first time viewers to quickly and positively assess. Very few readers would have stuck around long enough to see there was some useful content hiding in there somewhere. It was “subscriber genocide”. Why didn’t I see this? I’m experienced. I know the proven principles of layout, blog design and attracting readers… but you sure couldn’t tell it from that blog. What happened? I have committed myself to a regular review of my blogs, asking the right questions with the goal of making sure I was not getting lazy, sloppy, stuck in a rut, developing bad habits or doing things without thinking or purpose. The peer review on my blog was embarrassing but it was priceless in that it reminded me to regular schedule a time to answer these five questions… Does my blog have a clear and well-defined purpose? We take for granted that our long time readers know what our blog is about and to some degree, lazy design can exist in that environment. However, if you wish to grow your readership and expand the base of loyalty around your content, a new reader must be able to (almost instantly) determine what your blog is about and why they should remain interested.  This can be accomplished by optimizing several elements: Header/Logo – does the header content, verbiage and logo send a clear message about the purpose of your blog? Colors and Design – do the blog colors, design elements and styles support the purpose of the blog? At a minimum, they should...

Read More

Fours Ways to End Writing Laziness and Procrastination

Fours Ways to End Writing Laziness and Procrastination

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear a someone complaining how they just can’t get started writing, and cannot produce blog content consistently.  You know, the bloggers who put up a post every few weeks stating “I haven’t posted in a while but I’m going to get started really soon.” Maybe you aren’t that bad, but are you completely satisfied with your ability to routinely produce high quality content? If you are, go read something else, this post is not for you and your time is valuable. If you are not satisfied, I’m going to cover four ways to overcome writing laziness and blogging procrastination: Taking Serious Action Have a Routine Be Realistic in Your Writing Goals Pushing Your Flywheel If you were expecting some dazzling new concepts or productivity tricks, I’m sorry to disappoint. It just doesn’t work that way. People have been trying to shortcut hard work and discipline ever since Adam had to pull the first weeds out of his freshly cursed garden. It didn’t work then, and it doesn’t work today. Nike had it right when they said “just do it”. This is the downfall of most people no matter what the goal. They think, they plan, they prepare, they contemplate, they organize, they rework… but they never get around to “doing it”, doing it right, doing it consistently and doing it no matter how hard it is. Why? Usually a combination of reasons: some are afraid to fail; some people won’t do something unless they are naturally gifted at it and it comes easily. Insecurity, procrastination, perfectionism and just plain old laziness are all enemies of action, in this case, writing blog posts. You’ll find a common trait of many productive and successful bloggers is that they just simply “do it”. Start writing. I have numerous people who have been promising for months to get me an article for the magazine, submit a guest post or start their book project. It would seem they love the THOUGHT of doing it, but not actually doing it. They love planning for it and perhaps telling other people they are going to do it. Perhaps they lack the work ethic or are frozen by fear. If that’s YOU, no worries. Today is the day you end all that.  At the bottom of this post I’ll give you some simple steps to get you writing on a blog post RIGHT NOW, steps anyone can do if they simply CHOOSE. Take Serious Action Why describe it as “serious action”? Many people are good at taking action but it’s not serious or productive action. It’s action in order to FEEL like you’re taking...

Read More
content top