Write Like Yourself

Let’s face it: most people can’t write their way out of a paper bag. Further, most bloggers are boring, most journalists are so heavily edited that any personality they’ve added to a story has long since been weaned out by the editorial process.

I want to let you in on a secret, though: it’s not really that people are boring, but that too many have been taught that you shouldn’t write the same way you talk. I blame our educational system, actually, with those 5th grade teachers who drilled us on adverbs, pronouns and the minutia of grammar, coupled with too many boring, tedious academic books that we all suffered through while in college.

Instead, I suggest to you that the best way to write clear, coherent, engaging and enjoyable content is to write the way you speak, to recognize your spoken voice and pour it out onto the virtual page of your computer screen and weblog. Continue reading “Write Like Yourself”

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How to Find The Right Words

Have you ever struggled to find the right words? As if you knew in your heart what you wanted to write, but just couldn’t translate all that you felt into words? As if something always got lost between your head and your fingers?

And this is even more frustrating because how you write determines what your readers understand.

If you ever struggled to find just the right words, arrange them in the right order, and get your point across to your readers, here are a few tips for producing great content even when it feels like your brain is against you. Continue reading “How to Find The Right Words”

Information Overload: Avoid It Like The Plague

We live in the information age. And it’s being dumped on us by the truckload. Three pounds of stuff in the mailbox a day. Hundreds of TV channels, streaming services to binge on. 623 e-mail messages selling male enhancement pills per day.

And that’s only a fraction of the information that bombards us. There are billboards along highways, news broadcasts on the radio, newspapers, bills, books, seminars, random conversations at lunch time, business meetings, it never ends.

This information overload is felt even when you walk into the supermarket cereal aisle and have to choose from about 200 boxes screaming with bright colors and promises of low fat and high fiber, when all you want is lots of sugar and a cool little plastic prize or something like that.

Kinda of makes you dizzy, right? Continue reading “Information Overload: Avoid It Like The Plague”

Are You a Hoarder (of Ideas)?

Imagine this, if you will.

An old woman, near the end of her life. Shivering in a fleabag apartment without heat in the winter. Walking four miles each way to the food bank, to carry home unmarked cans of mystery meat. Not even a cat to keep her company, because cat food is expensive.

Then one day she dies, and the neighbors find $2.7 million wadded up in her mattress.

It’s a natural human impulse to hold on to what we have. We figure we can handle whatever discomforts we might be facing now, and who knows how bad it could get down the line? So we hoard, saving up our riches for some mythical later time.

What does this have to do with writing?

Everyone who writes faces this at some point. We come up with a powerful idea, something we think will capture a lot of attention. This is the kind of content we know we need to grow our blog and our business.

So of course we can’t waste it on our measly 300 subscribers (or 100, or 12). We scribble our great idea on a Post-it so we remember to write it up when we hit some magic number of subscribers–500 or 1000 or 10,000.

The Post-it gets dusty. We never hit that magic number. Because we took our best content ideas and stuffed them into a mattress. We didn’t think our small audience was good enough for amazing content, so we never got a larger audience. Continue reading “Are You a Hoarder (of Ideas)?”

50 Ways to Become a Better Blogger

Do you want to become a better blogger? Silly question, eh.

In that case, I’ve got some great news. The best way to become a better blogger is to blog. And to keep blogging.

If this blogging thing is difficult and frustrating, then you must force yourself to do it, and do it, and do it, until you get better at it.

As bloggers, we have to produce words daily – even when we don’t feel like it. Even replying to comments or e-mails is a good way to enhance one’s creativity.

Then there are a number of thing we can do to become better at this blogging thing. Quite a few of them… Continue reading “50 Ways to Become a Better Blogger”

This Long-Forgotten Technique Will Vastly Improve Your Blog

If you’ve been blogging for at least a few months, you’ve probably noticed by now that most of your success as a blogger comes from being able to sit down and punch those damn keys.

That is it.

Writing blog posts, editing them, selecting images, pitching guest posts, answering comments, and all the other tasks that require you to punch some keys on a keyboard or tap your fingers on a touchscreen.

And this thing does not change. In fact, the most successful bloggers just want it a bit more than just about everyone else, so they put a bit more time and effort into punching the damn keys.

But there’s another element to your success that you may have be neglecting with all that work and focus.

Every once in awhile, you might consider stepping out of the house and doing your best to find another human being.

I know this is a bizarre, arcane practice, but bear with me. Continue reading “This Long-Forgotten Technique Will Vastly Improve Your Blog”

Are You a Blogger or Just Blogging?

Here’s a harsh truth for you: blogging is a bit like sports. Anyone can do it, but few can do it at a professional level.

And while hardly anybody with an ounce of sanity who takes up tennis or golf thinks they’ll eventually turn pro at it, just about everyone who starts a blog, or is secretly writing a novel, all of them are dreaming of hitting it big somehow.

This is a brave new world: anyone can do it, just push a button and you’re out there. Suddenly everybody is blogging, and they all wish this was what they’d be doing as a job.

But there’s a big difference between blogging and being a blogger.

Continue reading “Are You a Blogger or Just Blogging?”

Are you Creative [Enough]?

Would you like to be more creative?

I’m only asking because it’s really not as hard or mysterious as you might think.

One thing that prevents many people from boosting their creativity is the notion that creativity is somehow determined by intelligence. Another is the idea that creative people are born that way.

In truth, research shows that once you get slightly above an average I.Q., intelligence and creativity are not related. So you could be a genius and display little creativity or have fairly average intelligence and wield amazing creative powers. Continue reading “Are you Creative [Enough]?”

Content is King. Or is it?

Is content king?

To me, that seems like a silly question. “Content is king” is a metaphor, but apparently not a very good one.

A good metaphor creates instant understanding. Given the amount of confusion and debate, the phrase “content is king” is not doing all that great a job in the instant-understanding department.

I think it’s smarter to say that content is indispensable. It’s what people go online to find, and it’s what Google loves. There are only a few online marketing models that don’t require valuable content, and those few are getting tougher by the day, and result in no long-term assets. Continue reading “Content is King. Or is it?”

The Seven Magic Tricks of Blogging

Magicians are skilled manipulators of perception. They can make people think something is moving when it isn’t or see things that aren’t there. Diverting attention this way and that, they can hide cards and rabbits or make objects appear from thin air.

Blogging is a little bit like that, depending on who writes it. Diverting attention with a little smoke and mirrors often draws readers inwards towards a certain conclusion or believing in what the author wants them to.

Now, don’t get me wrong – blogging isn’t evil. Not at all. But brilliant blogging is a bit like magic. Maybe a bit more than we’d like to admit.

Which means it’s tricky. Here are seven magic tricks of blogging. Continue reading “The Seven Magic Tricks of Blogging”