Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Raise the Volume on Your Content With This Easy to Learn Five Step Formula

Sometimes writing your own blog is kind of like a carpenter working on his own house! (two things I know a thing or two about!) You forget what’s best practice when it comes to your own content. So, I thought I would share a secret five step formula with you that creates winning blog posts every time and is sure to get you noticed when you pitch for guest blogs or articles. 

Step #1: Write a Headline That Can’t be Ignored!
You have exactly sixty minutes to write a post and your job depends on this post! How much of your time should you devote to the headline?
If you are like most writers, you probably think it should be your last concern, right? After all it represents a very small percentage of the post!
If this was your answer, you might have just lost your job!
Experts say you should spend twice as much time on your headline as the body of your post!
Shocking, isn’t it?
Most people agree, but statistically it has been proven that your headline will carry as much weight in driving traffic as the entire rest of the post!
If you were submitting this post for a guest blog position at an even halfway decent blog, the editors there will know this and without a rock solid headline, you are not getting published!
Unless you really want to do your post and your writing career a disservice, spend a lot of time brainstorming ideas for your post. In fact, make this your number one priority!
Step #2: Write an opener that shows the reader you are on their side!
Bill Clinton proved this…
Do you really think he could have survived his scandal ridden presidency had he not convinced most Americans that he “felt their pain”?
This is one of the most interesting stories of a public figure seemingly being bullet proof when it came to anyone placing the blame on him! It goes straight to the heart of the modern writer’s job!
If you want people to follow you through whatever journey your blog post is going to take them on, you first have to make sure they understand you are meeting them right where they are! They need to know you get it and you've felt their pain.
Open that post by showing them why you’re on their side! Empathize. You can use any number of roads to get there, but you must! Tell them a story of how you survived their worst fear, or someone else suffered through it, voice their fears for them right there on the screen!
The punch line is this…
Any reader who does not believe you understand and empathize with where they are coming from by the end of the first paragraph, will not be around to read the last! They will leave you.
Step #3: Teach the Reader Something They Didn’t Know!
The quickest way to end a conversation with a new friend?
Be predictable and tell them exactly what they expect to hear.
If you were writing a post about becoming a stronger athlete, you would probably want to mention that they needed to do traditional workouts, right? That is the surest way to lose your audience!
Regardless of the truth of your statement, athletes have had this drilled into their heads from childhood. And just like when their coach says it, it goes in one ear and out the other! They stop paying attention the second they assume they know what you are going to say!
That doesn’t mean it isn’t true. This is a funny thing about human psychology we tend to ignore what is potentially lifesaving advice, just because we think we already know it!
The world isn’t perfect. In a perfect world, you would gain an audience by telling them what they need to hear, whether they had heard it before, or not! But, in the real world of online content publishing, you must always be able to shock them with something new! 100% of the time.
What are your options?
·         Be argumentative and share ideas from someone who defends bad diet and says workouts just make athletes tired! Fly in the face of conventional wisdom.
·         Try sharing some bit of information they haven’t heard before such as sharing with them how some Olympic athletes have proven that imagining a grueling workout can have the same results as getting in the gym and breaking a sweat!
·         You could stir up conversation by arguing that professional eaters are the strongest athletes and showing how their training regimen leads to increased performance!
Whichever course you choose, you are sure to keep their attention, but the one thing you must do under any circumstances is tell them what they already know and expect to hear from you! It chases away readers faster than any other method I know!
Step #4: Show Them Examples of Your Insights!
This right here is freelance writing gold! Pay attention!
You should absolutely, without fail, tell at least one story, or give an illustration of at least one of your points in every single blog post. Period.
A lot of freelance writers want to rely on the research and the facts, but the truth is, that doesn’t relate your information back to the real lives of your readers.
Sharing one single example can make your ideas more real than pages of statistics.
Tell a good story and people will line up to buy whatever your writing, choose not to and they will likely use your writing to line their cat boxes, or avoid your blog like the plague!
Step #5: Write a closing that pumps your reader up!
Here’s another solid gold tip!
No matter what subject a person is reading about, most readers do not read to learn anything! Really, even if you are writing DIY articles, they don’t come to you to teach them!
They want to feel good! They want to believe they are awesome! Or sexier, or stronger, or smarter!
Make them feel good and they will not only buy everything you write, but they’ll send their friends to buy it too! An entire billion dollar industry is based on ideas that men like  Norman Vincent Peale understood a half century ago when he wrote, “The Power of Positive Thinking” people want to feel good. They want they will share anything that creates positive feelings, because they want to feel positive about themselves!
Now, what’s the best way to leave your audience with a “warm fuzzy”?
Write an ending that inspires them!
When I was a kid, I played a lot of baseball. I wasn’t much of an athlete, but there wasn’t much opportunity to act in the small towns I grew up in. One thing that I got from that experience, was the dugout speech! A good coach can step in and take a team that is down and put them on top by making them believe they can do it!
Give your readers a good old fashioned pep talk!
Not only will people want to read it, but, you’ll be surprised at how many shares you’ll get! That’s not all, but those editors at those blogs you’ve been pitching will eat it up with a spoon! Why, because it’s not every day they find someone who cannot only write, but will make readers fall in love with their site at the same time!
With this formula, you might as well be pouring love potion on those blogs, it is that powerful!
So, can you do this? Sure you can!
Reading this post, you might think you’ve never heard a lot of this before, but it’s just playground 101!
Let me show you…
·         The kid who tells the best jokes gets the most attention! (headline)
·         The kid who understands when you’re down always has company! (opening)
·         The kid with the inside scoop will always have an audience! (teach them something)
·         The kid with the best lunch extras never sits alone! (give a good example)
·         The kid who gets everybody excited is never picked last! (pep talk ending)
You learned all of this before you left the second grade! You’ve been doing it so long you’re an expert. In fact, I bet when you go to apply this to your next post, you’ll be surprised at how natural it feels!
I think you’ll be surprised at how well you can do this already, without even trying!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Follow This Easy Plan to Avoid Isolation as a Writer

“Writing is a solitary job--that is, no one can help you with it, bu there's nothing lonely about it. I have always been too busy, too immersed in what I was doing, either mad at it or laughing at it to have time to wonder whether I was lonely or not lonely. It's simply solitary. I think there is a difference between loneliness and solitude.”
William Faulkner

When you write, it is almost always alone. You may be bodily sharing space with other human beings,  but locked inside your own mind is where the magic happens. This can be tough for some people. It may feel lonely. I get that sometmes. Not when I am actually producing, as Faulkner points out, but more between projects, or just on those days when the words have to be dragged out, instead of flowing easily.

If this is you, there are things you can do to build a “team” of sorts, even in the solitary business of freelancing. There are others out there who also need someone to share their journey with, and they will be happy to come along for the ride, just be sure you are willing to provide value to them in exchange for their company.

Find an Editor

This may be a professional, if you are at that stage in your career, but it doesn't have to be. You may want someone to read every single post you write, or you may only need them for the “important” stuff that you are unsure of, or feel could have an impact.

Here are some qualities to look for in an editor.

      Give honest feedback, you need someone with an opinion, who “gets” you
      Excellent grammar skills. I need a comma Nazi personally, and I am looking for someone
      Understands writing well enough to not just point out weaknesses, but suggest improvements

If you are paying this person, be sure you have the resources to pay their standard rate. Don't ask people to work at a discount, or for free until you have enough success to pay later that may never happen.

Start a Support Group

You can find, or start a writer's, or creative workers support group. Look on Craigslist in your area, or check out Meetups to find likely groups to be part of, or to put out the word for your own group. You can share your writing, talk about technique, and encourage each other.

Here are some things to keep in mind when starting, or contributing to a group.

      Commit. If you say you are going to be there, be there. Others will count on you as much as you do them.
      Contribute. You probably looked for a group because you wanted people to share with, now is not the time be shy. Be an active part of the group.
      Honor other's boundaries and set your own. There are some things that are better not shared with a  group.

This can be a huge source of support and creative inspiration, if you work it. Make sure you don't get involved, unless you are really willing to be a part of a group. I cannot stress this enough. Think of what you would want from group member and be willing to give it before joining up.

Work Outside the House

You may need the privacy of your mind, but in many cases, you can still get out and work around other people from time to time. Laptops are easily portable and most coffee shops have wi-fi. Or, if you are like me, choose one that doesn't so you won't be distracted.

There are also places that offer common work space on certain days of the week for freelancers. Again, Craigslist and Meetup might be good sources for local information.

      Choose a place that has an environment that works for you. Don't expect other people to change their habits to suit you.
      If you are going to a business, such as a cafe, or coffee shop, buy something. They are used to people taking tables for long periods, but not for free, that is rude.
      If all else fails, most public libraries have desks for writing, and lots of research materials at your fingertips.

It is important to stay in touch with the outside world. After all, you are expecting them to read and love your work, and knowing who “they” are can't hurt. New experiences are also necessary to fil up your own inspiration, so go for it!

Take Time Off on Purpose

It's easy to think that the more time you spend writing, the more success you will have, and this is  true, up to a point. But, unless you intend to be a hermit, remember that you probably wanted to do this job, at least in part, to have freedom for other things.

You need to intentionally develop outside interests, so that home does not become so comfortable that you develop an unhealthy attachment to it.

      Start a hobby, especially one that involves other people. Join a sports team, or a club of some sort.
      Get a part time job working with people. It will give your brain a break, and put a little additional money in your pocket that is not dependent on writing. I build things for people.
      Go to church, or synagogue, or whatever works for you. Seeking out others who share your spiritual beliefs can be a strong factor in staying content.

Try a few of these things, or share your own in the comments below. We can all use ways to stay connected. It is good for us, it is good for our art, and we have a lot of  great stuff to contribute to the world at large. You know you're smart and have great ideas, so don't deprive the world of your genius.