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The Perfect Blog Post

The Perfect Blog Post

I have read both great and sorry blog posts of all lengths, topics, layouts, and construction. There is no cut-and-dried perfect blog post template, but… A Great Blog Post Format Anyone Can Use If you are a new blogger, an inexperienced writer, or just stuck, you can follow this proven layout for your blog post and be assured of a decent result (assuming your writing is up to snuff; even a good format cannot survive crummy writing): A headline that is concise and grabs the reader’s interest.  Your headline should have one purpose:  to get people to feel “I want to read this and find out more.”  If you fail here, you’ll lose 95% of potential readers.  A few loyalists or bored readers might continue but most will quickly move on to something they deem worthy of their time. A good image works much like the headline. One photo can communicate paragraphs of hints and teases about your content. On the flip side, a poor or boring image will do what just what you would expect it to do: run people off (“sorry image, must be sorry writing too”).  A misleading image will cause people to question the integrity of your content. If you will lie to me by using an enticing image that has nothing to do with the content, what else will you lie to me about? For example, many blogs will use a photo of something trendy or sexy just to get the search-engine traffic and curious readers; even if that image, in reality, has nothing to do with the content. An opening paragraph that quickly tells people what they are about to read and why they should want to read more. If you can get them hooked with the headline and image, the first paragraph is the glue that will keep them stuck on your post. Remember, people have a LOT of choices when it comes to reading. If you make them work hard (read your entire post) before they figure out your point, then you are asking too much. Tell them what you are going to say up front (without giving away every juicy secret), and let them decide if they want to hear more.  That may seem counter-intuitive but it shows respect and consideration to your readers. You value them, treat them as such. Subheads give an “outline” for readers. This not only serves as a road map but helps them remember your content. Subheads are mini-headlines that entice people to continue reading your content; again, this shows the reader respect by allowing them to choose whether the next section is valuable to them. Concise writing is an art form....

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Jazzing Up Your WordPress Blog

It is hard to imagine life without blogs. They have become the voice of millions of people who want to document their life and adventures, or just speak their minds. Blogs have made the world a smaller place, allowing news and ideas to be seen and heard from anywhere on the globe. One of the most popular sites for free blogs is WordPress.com. According to the site, more than fifty-eight million blogs worldwide have found their home at WordPress.com. WordPress Themes What is a theme? Think of a theme like a cellphone. No matter how high-tech the phone might be, its basic function is to make calls and send SMS messages. The difference lies in its design, specifications, and brand. In the same way, a blog’s basic function is to share a thought or a message. What sets a blog apart from another is its look and structure. A blog is a blog. But a WordPress theme adds functionality and design elements to a blog. For anyone who has started a WordPress blog, one of the most exciting experiences is choosing a theme. There are many themes available to choose from, each reflecting the blog’s personality and branding by providing templates that add to the site’s aesthetics. Indeed, with a wide array of attractive themes, there are no more excuses for bad blog designs. Free Versus Paid Themes  There are also two kinds of themes: free and paid. Free themes are usually the first choice for new bloggers. These are pre-designed and generic themes that usually follow the same structure of the default theme. Paid or premium WordPress themes allow the user to configure the look and feel of the blog. You can choose the color scheme of the theme, plus get access to an options panel. However, their uniqueness and quality comes at a price of up to $30 or more for a premium WordPress theme. What’s the Difference?  Premium themes show more of an investment of time and resources. Because of this, the design is better than most free themes. Considering that many free themes are already appealing, having a paid design offers a much higher quality theme. Great designs are fueled by codes, and paid themes are generally well-coded compared to their free counterparts. Theme designers have to provide quality to their premium themes; otherwise designers face angry complaints from buyers, an onslaught of trouble-shooting concerns, and reputational risks to their names. One of the limitations of a free theme is that it will not include an options panel which easily allows a blogger to update a theme.  This is an especially helpful feature for the blog newbie. The bottom line:...

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Common Rookie Mistakes

Common Rookie Mistakes

It’s nice to get a head start by knowing what NOT to do as a blogger. Even if you’ve been blogging for a while, you should makes sure you are not falling into bad habits. Magic Traffic There are no magic programs, tricks, or easy solutions for getting new traffic and readers. Anyone who says there is, IS LYING to you and probably wants some money from you.  Don’t fall for it. Good writing, befriending your readers, visiting other blogs, leaving comments, and good-old-fashioned marketing is the only way to grow your traffic. You can bait, buy, and gimmick new traffic to your blog… but it will not be high-quality, long-lasting traffic. Sloppy Posts Bad grammar, juvenile punctuation, typos,  improper capitalization… sure-fire ways to make you look like you are not serious about blogging and do not care if you insult your readers. Another way to be sloppy is to put no thought into the flow of your content and just ramble on with no apparent purpose. Write with a plan. Spell, punctuate, and capitalize like a grown-up… okay, a grown-up from 30 years ago (that will get me some comment emails for sure). Me, Me, Me Very few blogs (there are a few) can be successful when the content is about YOU and not your readers. “You” can be the topic as long as the information is still of benefit to the reader.  Many new bloggers make the mistake of thinking their life, opinions, and interests will be as important to others as they are to themselves. In extraordinary exceptions, they can be… but as a rule, they are not.  Your opinions, interests, and life are only interesting to people to the degree it does something for them: it makes them feel better, it makes them live a higher quality life, it teaches them something, or it solves a problem for them. If you write a blog all about you that only benefits you, do not be surprised when you are the only one reading it regularly.  Who Cares Posts When you write something, ask “who cares?”  Or more accurately, ask “will my readers care?”  If not, do not publish it. And you have to learn this one important principle: just because you care, does not mean your readers will. Many bloggers make the mistake of believing their passion is automatically their readers’ passion. It’s not.  Learn to discern. You cannot force readers to be emotionally stirred or interested in something just because you are.  Yes, your writing can compel that response in them (and that’s what good writing does) but this is different than starting out with the assumption that because you are jazzed...

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Repeat After Me

Repeat After Me

Getting someone to visit your blog is only an opportunity. Getting them to come back is the real goal. There are lot of tricks, gimmicks, techniques and services that will get a set of eyeballs on your blog one time. You might even get lucky and have something go viral resulting in a gagillion people seeing your blog for the first time. But if you can’t get them to come back, if you can’t grab their attention, if you can’t get their permission to contact them again, you have little more than a daily stat you can brag about. Are you ready for each and every new viewer that happens by? Are you ready for a thousand new people tomorrow? Will they glance at your blog or read that one popular “nugget” then never return? You are facing a Mount Everest of blogging competition. What about your blog will grab a first time viewer and convince them to invest their future time with you? Can you answer that question? Does your blog speak to new viewers when they...

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Love That Hate Mail

Love That Hate Mail

If you blog for any length of time, you’ll get hate mail, and it’s almost always from those courageous “anonymous” writers. People become VERY brave behind a keyboard and a thousand miles of fiber optics. IGNORE IT If you haven’t gotten hate mail or vicious comments yet from anonymous cowards, don’t worry, you will.  There are two ways to handle it but they both come down to a single principle: IGNORE IT. Trust me, this comes from 15 years of experience. IGNORE IT. It’s not worth the time it takes to delete it. If a hateful comment comes from no one (“anonymous”) then it deserves no one’s time and no one’s consideration.   Here are two suggestions: If you are thin-skinned and sensitive: have someone else moderate your comments or blog email and delete the bad stuff before you ever have to see it. If you aren’t so sensitive, be ready on the DELETE key whenever a message is from “anonymous”. As soon as it becomes obvious its troll scroll, then trash it. Resist the temptation to keep reading (it’s like watching a car crash; it’s hard to look away). If someone doesn’t have the character to identify themselves and own up to their criticism, they don’t deserve the micro-seconds it takes you to send it to digital Never Land. But what if you get criticism or ugly-grams from someone who includes their name and email?  Treat it like you SHOULD treat all criticism: read it carefully… honestly accept any gripes that have merit (and do something about it), and disregard anything that has no merit. Most of the time you’ll want to respond back, acknowledge their feedback and sincerely thank them for pointing out something that really was accurate even if it hurt… but don’t give in to the temptation to defend yourself from inaccurate criticism.  When you respond to honest critics who have a point, you’ll often gain a friend and ally. What are your questions about hate mail and...

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