Archive for Article Ideas

Tips on Writing a Great Blog Post:
Give it a Rest

Bird BandageIt’s the rainy season here in Mexico – a great time to do a lot of reading, writing and recovery – at least, that’s what I told myself when I scheduled my shoulder surgery.  But I’m having trouble with my blog writing.  And now I’m stuck. I’ve got Blogger’s Block.  (Yes, even experienced bloggers can get stuck from time to time.)

So I pull out my bag of great blog post tricks, and determine where I’m stuck in the process.  And that’s it.  I had altered my writing process.  But that shouldn’t matter… should it? Read More→

Business Blog Writing: How to Avoid Time-Suck

Avoid Time Suck

How do you avoid time-sucking traps when it comes to blog writing?

If you’re anything like me, you may have found yourself (a time or two!) with nothing to show after sitting in front of your screen for 90 minutes.  Yup. It happens to the best of us.

You sit down with your coffee, open email, and an hour later still haven’t posted on your blog. You decide you need inspiration, so you check out your feed reader.

Ninety minutes later, you still haven’t started a new blog post. You’ve probably read some really great stuff, but now you’re really behind schedule, and time is money. You feel anxious, overwhelmed, and you move on to client projects (but I’ve got a tennis match so I’ll have to come back later…)

Sound familiar? Change a few details and I bet this is your story. Read More→

2 Sure-Fire Ways to Inspire Your Blog Writing

Business-blog-writingA few years ago I polled readers and asked what their biggest blogging challenge is. Turns out, it’s not lack of time, it’s lack of inspiration. Does your blog writing lack inspiration? Is it hard to get really fired up when starting to write a post?

I get that.  When I was just starting out as a blogger (was that really over 15 years ago?!) I could just feel that screen staring right back at me.  What can a blogger blog about to other bloggers?

Lack of inspiration comes from not being sure you’re doing it right, or doing it well, and lack of confidence that it will be worth it… in other words, fear and doubt.

Fear and doubt go away when you know what you’re doing, and have a system that will allow you to move forward confidently.

Here are two ways you can side-step fear and doubt, and write frequent, consistent quality posts and develop a blogging habit that will grow your abilities over time. Nobody starts out writing well. Yet, everybody’s got a piece of genius within them, so it’s a question of finding it and putting it on paper, quickly, before any demons get in the way. Read More→

Should You Send Holiday Newsletters?

eNewsletter

Shortcuts to Newsletters

Are you sending holiday newsletters for your business? Even though you may be tempted to put all your time and energy into maintaining your business blog, a newsletter is still a vital, viable way to stay connected to clients and prospects. Holiday newsletters are a great opportunity.

Don’t take my word for it. Ask other professionals if they’re getting results from sending out an emailed newsletter, for the holidays, or any time of year, and then judge for yourself if it’s worth the time and effort (and money).

Here’s a great example of what I hear: Read More→

7 Content Marketing Questions to Ask
BEFORE You Write a Word

QuestionsHere are some key marketing questions to ask and answer before you write a single word of content, if you want to get good content marketing results.

When you outsource writing for your blog, newsletter, video or any type of content marketing, be very clear about your content marketing goals. In fact, it doesn’t matter if you’re outsourcing to another writer or doing it all yourself.

1. What do you want your visitor to do after reading or viewing your article, blog or video?

For example, do you want them to buy a product? Call a phone number?  Register on a form with their email address? You should have a specific action you want your visitor to take after reading your article or watching the video.

2. Who’s your target market or audience?

Be very specific here, for example you could say, “My target market is new real estate agents who want to generate more leads.”

3. What makes you better than your competitors? Read More→

Blog Writing Tips for Business Clarity:
A Helpful Diagram

Good business writing should be like a good butler: working smoothly in the service of the reader without calling attention to itself.

This means that you avoid language that sounds impressive.

This weekend I was reviewing some books on business writing, including Harvard Business Review’s Guide to Better Business Writing.

Although these tips are designed for business professionals who write reports,  proposals, presentations and memos, they are totally applicable to blog writing.

There is no better way to approach business and blog writing tasks than to keep in mind three realities:

  1. Business readers are content driven
  2. Readers are pressed for time
  3. Readers are seeking out solutions

There is a confusing amount of contradictory advice about how to compose a business report:

  • Writing should be clear – but it should also “sound good”
  • Information should be simple and straightforward – yet cleverly composed to stand out
  • Get to the bottom line quickly – but don’t leave out background details

Use your words to carry information, ideas and build relationships with readers by speaking their language. Go easy on the jargon and cliches. Organize your content so that readers will be drawn into reading your ideas logically presented to flow in a way that makes sense.

The number one question readers are asking when they glance at material is this:

Why am I reading this? What’s in this for me? Why should I care?”

Not to be harsh, but they don’t care about you. The introductory paragraph needs to quickly establish the relevancy and utility of the document to readers. Read More→

How to Start a Blog Serial Writing Project

Check_boxes
If you’ve been reading my blogs for any length of time, you know about my problem with writing:  I love to write, and I can write too much.  Anyone with a doctorate suffers from the same disease. Dissertation-itis. Nobody has time to read all those words anymore, especially not online.

Then, at some point in my writing career I got lazy. Or maybe I got smart. I started skipping the long research on a topic and reading up on its history. I just started making a list of main points and then writing out a couple of sentences on each item.

I think I got the idea from Jeff Herring, The Article Guy, who said if you can write a 7 item grocery list, you can write a good article. Now Jeff teaches article writing for people who struggle with writing and have a hard time coming up with stuff.

I fell in love with the “Make a List” writing school. Their theory is anything worth reading can be written in a list of bulleted points.

And now for my real confession:  I’ve taken the list building approach to an extreme. I’ve become a serial writer.

I wish I could say that it’s the cure for writer’s block, or that it’ll turn your work into Internet gold. I will proclaim it to be a rousing success for saving you time and energy whenever you’re faced with writing for your ezine, blog, web pages, press releases, and even white papers.

Here’s how to start a serial writing project (in list form, of course):

  1. Find an idea your readers want to know more about that will benefit them
  2. Make a list of 5 main points
  3. Write an overview of the idea with the 5 points listed and post it on your blog
  4. Each day for the next 5 days write a blog post about each of the 5 points
  5. Write a summary of the 5 points, reviewing them and reminding readers why this is important
  6. Edit each blog post into a stand alone article
  7. Compile the 7 articles into one full article. Read More→

Blog Writing Tips for Business Clarity

Good business writing should be like a good butler: working smoothly in the service of the reader without calling attention to itself.

This means that you avoid language that sounds impressive. This weekend I was reviewing some books on business writing, including Harvard Business Review’s Guide to Better Business Writing.

Although these tips are designed for business professionals who write reports,  proposals, presentations and memos, they are totally applicable to blog writing.

There is no better way to approach business and blog writing tasks than to keep in mind three realities:

  1. Business readers are content driven
  2. Readers are pressed for time
  3. Readers are seeking out solutions

There is a confusing amount of contradictory advice about how to compose a business report:

  • Writing should be clear – but it should also “sound good”
  • Information should be simple and straightforward – yet cleverly composed to stand out
  • Get to the bottom line quickly – but don’t leave out background details

Use your words to carry information, ideas and build relationships with readers by speaking their language. Go easy on the jargon and cliches.

How you organize your content is important. Your readers will be drawn into reading your words when they are logically presented to flow in a way that makes sense.

Readers decide whether or not to read your post or report based on the first few sentences. You need to grab their attention immediately, and create a desire to know more.

The number one question readers are asking when they glance at material is this: “Why am I reading this? What’s in this for me? Why should I care?”

Not to be harsh, but they don’t care about you. The introductory paragraph needs to quickly establish the relevancy and utility of the document to readers.

An effective introduction briskly tells a story built around four elements:

  1. The situation: A quick factual sketch of the current business situation that serves to anchor the reader.
  2. The complication: A problem that unsettles the situation in the story you’re telling. It’s why you’re writing the memo or report. Read More→

How is Playing Tennis Like Blog Writing?

One of the concerns professionals ask me about when they’re starting a new blog is this: “What if I run out of things to write about?” They’re concerned that they’ll start repeating themselves and become boring or bored.

This is not something to worry about and I’m going to prove it this week. There are 1,001 ways to write the same thing over and over again, and have fun with it!

For example, as I write this post it’s 6 a.m. and I’ve got the French Open on TV. I’ve set out to write another post about… how to write better blog posts. This is something I’ve written a million times. How can I make it different or compelling?

A quick search of previous posts and I’ve found a couple of other blog posts about blog writing and tennis:

Maybe I’ve said it all using tennis metaphors, but I don’t think so. The point I’d like you to take-away is that no matter what your main message is, there are many ways to frame it using different themes and analogies.

What sports or hobbies do you know that ties in with the business blog you’re writing? Use your imagination. Have fun with it. Chances are, your readers will enjoy it also.

9 Must-Read Books for Intelligent Content Marketing

What are you reading? You may not have much time to keep up with the latest biz books in your field. But some of us (me) spend a lot of time reading. Let me share with you what I'm reading now that I think is really worthwhile.

Different-thinking-concept You may wonder how these relate to writing on the web, or marketing, but trust me, they do. Psychology is the meaningful connection linking marketing to people in any field or profession.

Here's what's on my night table, my desk, my lounge chair out by the pool, and next to my stationary exercise bike:

What's on your reading list?