Saturday, January 14, 2017

How Often Should You Be Blogging



Since I'm a writing coach and I often help clients learn how to use a blog to build their brand and their business and/or writing careers, many of my clients want to know how often they have to blog.

Do you wonder the same thing?

Well, if you feel like you HAVE to blog, you probably shouldn’t be blogging in the first place!

Blogging should be for someone who can’t WAIT to wake up in the morning and share more information with people.

If you lack that, it could be a sign that you’re in the wrong niche.

But let’s talk about traffic and authority.

You’ll see some leaders in a niche who blog very infrequently.

This is sometimes because blogging is a side tool for them.

They primarily use other things like television, radio, webinars and live, in-person seminars to attract and cultivate an audience.

But if you're a blogger who wants to use your blog as your primary source of audience engagement, then you need to make a commitment to show up and share on a regular basis.

The more, the better – but there’s an asterisk to that*

* More is better ONLY if there’s something valuable that you’re sharing.

In other words, don’t blog just to blog.

Don’t slap up meaningless content that dilutes the truly valuable blog posts you have just because someone told you to blog three times a day.

What you ought to do is go through and develop your editorial calendar to see how much content you can conceivably create.

You’ll be surprised at how many ideas you generate once you understand how to look for good blog ideas.

As far as search engine bots (spiders) are concerned, they like to see a certain amount of “freshness” in your blog.

They typically start off visiting your blog once every couple of weeks, but they narrow their visitation schedule to index your site if you blog regularly, and this looks good and helps you get content indexed faster.

It’s also helpful to your blog subscribers if you blog frequently.

If this is a topic they’re interested in, then you want to be the go-to authority figure in your niche – the person they know will have continual updates and fresh information.

A daily schedule is best.

Some people post several times and day, and this is great, too.

Don’t burden yourself trying to reach that goal, though.

Just be consistent.

If you can only manage to post three times a week, then do it three times a week.

However, there is such as thing as blogging too little.

When you start going weeks or months without blogging, don’t expect a blog audience to stick around and become subscribers and fans of your content.

In fact, they won’t even know who you are!

Suzanne Lieurance is a freelance writer, the author of over 30 published books, and the Working Writer's Coach.

Let her teach you how to turn writing about your personal experiences into a career and your brand.

Learn more at www.fearlessfreelancewriting.com.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

7 Writing Goals for 2017

Writing is like exercise. The best way for writers to improve their craft is to keep writing: write more, write different, and write outside of your comfort zone.

Here are 7 writing goals that can help you in 2017:

1. Journal Regularly.
It seems like any and all of my advice begins with journalling. It can help you improve your writing and organize your thoughts, while developing your tone, style, and voice. Set aside some time (at least 15 minutes, at least once a week) to share your thoughts and brainstorm ideas in your journal. You never know what you'll create when you just allow your pen (or keyboard) to flow.

2. Start or Refresh Your Blog. blog is the best way to showcase your expertise as a writer, and within your niche, so potential customers and clients can find you online. Even if you only blog once a week, on a consistent day and time, you are getting who you are and what you know out there.

3. Submit. Don’t keep your writing to yourself. Enter a contest. Pitch an agent. Write an article and query a dream publication. If you already do this, double your efforts in the new year.

4. Write in a Different Style or Genre. Are you a technical writer? Explore fiction. Do you write screenplays? Try an essay. While it's great to have a niche where you excel, it's also fun to try something different.

5. Try a Different Length or Format. Similar to above ... If you write short blog posts, try writing long. If you tend to write lengthy content, write something concise. Or write a book (fiction or non-fiction). That will certainly expand your writing repertoire.   

6. Write What You Avoid. Choose something you have been meaning to write that you somehow keep avoiding. Then, do it!

7. Have Fun! People sometimes forget that writing is supposed to be fun. If you love what you are writing, there’s a greater likelihood that others will love it too. Bring your passion through your words to your audience.

Try one of these goals or all of them. My goal is to set you all up for success in the new year. Here’s to a fabulous 2017!
What do you think? What are your writing goals for 2017? Please share them in the comments. 

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Guided Goals and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. 

She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages and host of the Guided Goals Podcast.

Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Avoiding Common Punctuation Errors Pt 7: Apostrophes


Sometimes people underrate the importance of punctuation. If your work is full of errors, you risk not only confusing and/or annoying your readers, but you also risk losing credibility. Punctuation errors are bad enough in a novel or a short story, but if you're writing non-fiction, your readers may think, “Hmm...if this guy can't put apostrophes in the right place, can I really trust his expertise in the subject matter?” This is something you do not want your readers to think.

Recently I read an independently published non-fiction book plagued with so many apostrophe errors that the author unwittingly inspired today's post. Here are the main types of errors he made, over and over again:

1) Wrong: His mothers fears
Right: His mother's fears

If you're showing possession, you need that apostrophe. Otherwise is looks like a plural. This would be doubly confusing if it were “His mothers fear” because that reads like he has two mothers and they both fear something. It's not until the next word that the reader is jarred into the intended meaning: “His mothers fear was made reality.” Oh...his mother (or mothers, we're still not sure because it's not punctuated correctly) had a fear and it came true.

2) Wrong: Humanities primal urges. Also would be wrong: Humanitie's primal urges.
Right: Humanity's primal urges

When a word ends in y, and you want to make it PLURAL, you change the y to i and add es. But when you want to make it POSSESSIVE, you do not change the y. Just add apostrophe s. The city's streets are clean. Not many cities are so clean.

3) Wrong: A process which Heracles labours are forcing him to undergo.
Right: Heracles' labours... OR Heracles's labours

The correct way to punctuate names and singular nouns that end in s is debatable, and depends on which style guide you use, though nowadays most lean toward adding the apostrophe s instead of just the apostrophe. Charles's camera. The bus's back tires. But of course, if the noun is plural, you just add the apostrophe. The girls' playhouse (there are at least two girls).

4) Wrong: The sea's were troubled.
Right: The seas were troubled.

It's a plural noun. The apostrophe has no place here. Exceptions may be made (depending on which style guide you follow) for acronyms, years, and other strange cases. Some people write CD's, DVD's, etc. when they mean multiple CDs or DVDs. They write the 1980's when referring to the decade, instead of the 1980s. I personally think this is imprecise and potentially confusing, but it's common and often considered acceptable. You should use an apostrophe in plurals of some one-letter words that would be confused with other words if you didn't add the apostrophe. So, for example, you can write “I replaced all the a's with i's in my secret message.” These a's and i's are plural, not possessive, and would generally not use apostrophes, but if you don't add the apostrophe, you get this: “I replaced all the as with is in the secret message.”

5) Wrong: Helios see's all things.
Right: Helios sees all things.

Never put an apostrophe s in a verb UNLESS you're making a contraction with is or has (he's tired, she's singing, Mary's awake, the cat's never caught a bird before, the world's been going downhill..) Otherwise, just don't do it. Please. A regular s is sufficient. Helios sees. Helios hears. Helios knows.

6) Wrong: It's muscles flexed.
Right: Its muscles flexed.

This is a very, very, very common error. It's is a contraction of it and is (It's hot in here). Its is the possessive of it (This book is complicated. Its appendix of characters is twenty-seven pages long.). I think most of us know this, but it's easy to make the error in haste or with bad typing and then not catch it later because we know what it's supposed to say, so our brain skips over the error. If you're worried about it, there's a long, boring solution: use the find feature on your word processor to hunt down every example of both it's and its in your manuscript and make sure they're all right. While you're at it, check you're and your.


A few other things to remember:

“My parents' house is old” means that the house belongs to both your parents.
“My parent's house is old “ means that the house belongs to one of your parents (and for some reason you call this person your parent instead of your mom or dad.)

Let's is not the same as lets
Let's go swimming this afternoon. Mom never lets me go swimming.

Who's is not the same as whose
Who's going to cook tonight? Whose carrots are these?

They're is not the same as their
They're going to cook tonight? But their carrots are old.

You're is not the same as your
You're invited. Your invitation got lost in the mail.

We're is not the same as were and he's is not the same as his. Yes, these last ones should be obvious, but I've seen the mistakes in work people felt ready to publish.


The problem with these types of errors is that spell checker will never find them. Your grammar checker won't help a lot either. You have a sacred duty to your readers to find somebody (yes, an actual person, and preferably several of them) that will be able to hunt down and correct errors like this after you do your best to correct them yourself.

Happy hunting.

For more punctuation help, see my other posts:
Avoiding Common Punctuation Errors Pt 1:  Commas Save Lives; the Vocative Comma
Avoiding Common Punctuation Errors Pt 2:  Commas and Periods in Dialogue
Avoiding Common Punctuation Errors Pt 3:  Commas with Participial Phrases
Avoiding Common Punctuation Errors Pt 4:  The Mysterious Case of the Missing Question Mark
Avoiding Common Punctuation Errors Pt 5:  Adjectives with Commas
Avoiding Common Punctuation Errors Pt 6:  Hyphens in Compound Adjectives

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Getting Rid of Tattletale Words in Your Résumé


By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of
The Frugal Editor: Do-it yourself editing secrets for authors:
From your query letter to final manuscript to the marketing of your new bestseller

People in all walks of life work mightily on perfecting their résumés and other career-building documents and then forget one vital step. An editor. Preferably an editor versed in all the elements of writing including grammar, punctuation, storytelling…wait! Storytelling?

Yes. And some other surprises like marketing—and a little knowledge about psychology won’t  hurt either.

The list is long but it can be shortened by thinking “experience.” A broad range of experience. So, no, your high school English teacher may not be your best choice. Nor, your mother who “did really well in English.”

There are a whole lot of tattletale words you shouldn’t use in your résumé or related documents like biographies, proposals, query letters, and media kits. All of these documents are designed to convince the reader of your ability to do the job—your expertise—and to nudge your career (or product) toward success.   

So what are those words? And how do they relate to storytelling?

Ambitious is one of the most frequently used tattletale words. It seems like a wasted word doesn’t it. A couple more that mean little because of overuse or are downright laughable are highly motivated or responsible. That you are writing this document is an indication that you are ambitious.

This is where that storytelling thing comes in. You tell a little story that subtly shows the responsible, ambitious, or highly motivated aspect of your work habits. Using the age-old writers’ motto, “show, don’t tell,”  will keep your reader from asking—often with a touch of irony—what makes you ambitious. King Midas was ambitious. Maybe your reader assumes your father got tired of seeing you playing video games and you got ambitious only when it looked as if the couch would no longer be a good place to park yourself.

So what is your story? Tell about the upward movement in your chosen career or even between careers—how one informs the other and gives you knowledge and a dimension that no other applicant is likely to have.

Hardworker and go-getter seem as useless in a résumé or query letter as ambitious. It’s like tooting your own horn. The person reading it might ask, “Who says?”

Overblown adjectives. Words like exciting and amazing—even when they describe results or projects—are anathema. They have the same problem as hardworking above. I call this the awesome syndrome. They are words that tempt a reader to scoff. Instead tell a story about the extra effort you put into a project and the difference it made. Or quote one of the rave reviews you received from one of your supervisors in a periodic assessment, recommendation, or endorsement.

Team player has been a cliché for decades.. Instead choose a group project you’ve worked on and tell about your contributions. Or just list some of the ways you might have helped another department or division. And, because human brains have been wired for stories since we sat around the fires we made in caves, make it into an anecdote if you can.

Think out-of-the-box is also a cliché-ridden no-no. It’s storytelling time again

Microsoft Word. I’m proud that I can produce an entire book using Word from its Contents to its Index to its Footnotes. I love that I don’t have to spend time learning another program. But there’s no point in telling people that I’m an expert at Word. Everyone is. Of course, I can use it prove another point like how well I have managed to adapt its features to new, advanced project and tell how much time I saved by doing that rather than learning a new program. I might mention how much more professional it looked even as I saved that time. And I might mention that my project got rave reviews.

Some frequently used words like synergy have become a way to insert some humor into a résumé and that has become as much of a cliché as the overuse of the word. Marco Buscaglia picked this word out of the hundred (if not thousands) of popular words I call business-ese. You can avoid them by reviewing your copy and purging anything that sounds officious including most words with more than three syllables.

Think in terms of relationships, colleagues in other departments, associates in competing companies, respected academicians, mentors beyond your teachers. Though a good story can take even that kind of mentorship out of the humdrum and into an Aha! Moment.

Before you send off your paper, go over it. Find all the weak verbs—is, be, do—and use your thesaurus to strengthen them and to make them more accurate.

------
Carolyn Howard-Johnson was an instructor for UCLA Extension's world-renown Writers' Program for nearly a decade and edits books of fiction and poetry. She  is the author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers including The Frugal Editor  and The Frugal Book Promoter. They are both USA Book News award-winners and both have won several other awards. Her How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career.is the newest book in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Her The Great First Impression Book Proposal is a booklet that can save anyone writing a proposal time reading tomes because it can be read in 30 minutes flat.


Carolyn is the recipient of the California Legislature's Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award and was honored by Pasadena Weekly for her literary activism. She is also is a popular speaker and actor. Her website is www.HowToDoItFrugally.com.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Email Marketing - 10 Top Reasons to BE Doin' It

By Karen Cioffi

While marketing strategies can come and go, there are still those that are top contenders and email marketing is one of them. And, it's an important strategy in book marketing.

So, what makes email marketing so important - why exactly should you be doin' it?

Here is a list of 10 top reasons:

1. Email lists are personal and build relationships. They help you develop a relationship with your subscribers. No other marketing strategy offers this ‘personal touch’ element.

2. Emails drive targeted traffic to your website. This means the people clicking on your email links (CTAs) are already interested in what you offer.

3. It’s one of the most cost-effective strategies there is (in other words, it’s cheap and has a great ROI).

4. It’s is easy and quick. Services, like GetResponse make it super-easy to create lists (campaigns), create the coded optins, and allows you to send out emails immediately.

5. It allows for automation. This means you can schedule emails to go out at specific days and times and segment (divide) your list.

6. It’s versatile and customizable. You can create a variety of campaigns, segway into other campaigns, use for weekly workshops, and so much more.

7. It generates results. Email marketing is one of the only strategies that encourages subscribers to become customers or to take other actions.

8. Allows you to measure results. Email marketing services have analytical tools in place that give you much need information, such as how many subscribers open your emails and how many click on the links in your emails.

9. Beats social media’s conversion rates. Conversion is the process of a person taking a desired action, such as clicking on your link or optin.

In a study by McKinsey and Company, it shows that email exceeds social media’s conversion rate by 40X. (1)

Forty times. That’s huge!

10. According to Convince and Convert.com, “People who buy products through email spend 138% more than people who don’t receive email offers.” Along with this, “44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email.” (2)

You may feel it’s all just too much. You already blog as part of your marketing strategy, isn’t that enough? Well, it’s really not.

Keep in mind that if you use social media to share your posts, you’re only reaching a minute percentage of your followers. And, less than 1% of your website visitors will buy from a random blog post they clicked onto.

As number 7 above says, email marketing produces results. And, your efforts can be as simple as linking to your most recent blog post from within your newsletter or email. Be sure to use it as part of your book marketing strategy.

If you want to be shown, step-by-step, how to email market right to produce results, then you’ll definitely want to check out my new Email Marketing Right Video Workshop.  

It's only $20! Every writer, author, and home business should take advantage of this value-packed workshop.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning author, ghostwriter, and author/writer online platform instructor. Get must-know writing and marketing tips at http://thewritingworld.com.

And, check out Karen’s e-classes through WOW! Women on Writing:
http://www.articlewritingdoctor.com/content-marketing-tools/

MORE ON WRITING AND MARKETING

Are You Living the Writer’s Life?
Writing Skills - Spread Your Wings
3 Marketing Strategies Geared to Motivate People to Buy
 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR




And, to start the new year, I have a useful gift for you:


 HAVE A HEALTHY, HAPPY, AND 
PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!

Karen and Writers on the Move