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Thursday, June 4, 2015

10 Simple Tips to Drastically Improve Your Online Writing

If you develop content for websites or write on a blog; you depend on people sharing your content.  In order to get readers and hold them, it's important to remember a few key concepts that are less about what you write, but more about how you present yourself and your work! 

Writer's who adhere to the following 10 "rules" find themselves to be much more successful with online writing. It's hard to gain followers, get social shares and to compete with the millions of other articles out there.  Here's how to get an edge!

1.  Have passion for your subject and even share a few personal stories as they relate to the topic.  Let's say you just love to knit.  It's a hobby you know well and have learned through trial and error.  You decide that a niche blog might help your business; or perhaps you just want to write about it for fun and maybe monetize your blog. Your passion and expertise matter and they need to SHINE through your writing.  Fortunately, when we are passionate about a topic, the enthusiasm usually shows through.  

2. Illustrate what you are talking about! If you write tutorials for example, don't just share a still shot here and there with lengthy explanations.  Pull out that iPhone and do a few short video examples.  It will clarify your point, make your content more search engine friendly and keep your readers coming back for more!

3. Look at your page.  Don't just edit the writing, look at the layout.  Are the paragraphs short enough to be easily viewed? Long walls of text are hard on the eyes, particularly on mobile devices.  Do you break up your text with bullet points, the periodic call out or even tables to break everything up into easily digestible chunks?

4. Vary your sentence lengths and read your work aloud before posting.  It helps immensely if readers find your writing to be engaging; and part of that is the rhythm of sentence structures.  Short sentences are great.  They should be used alongside longer sentences like this to create a more melodic flow.  Short sentences are ok. They can start to sound choppy. Be sure to break them up. (see the difference?)

5. Use a good image to make your content more likely to be shared.  Infographics and eye-catching title graphics are often shared on Pinterest and can bring in a great deal of traffic.  All of my hubs on HubPages for example have great title graphics and that, combined with top-notch content have brought me more than 1 million page views.  About 60% of that was from Pinterest.

6. Write for your reader - not yourself.  When you are writing online content; you are there to entertain, answer a question or solve a problem for your reader.  If your reader is unsatisfied, it doesn't matter how well you write; you will fail.

7. Expand your horizons! I am currently moving out of my comfort zones and learning to develop online courses that use video to supplement my texts/lectures.  It's a big stretch for me, but with challenge comes growth.  As an online writer; you want to reach as many as possible. Find different venues to do this.

8. Allow your work to be critiqued by other writers and accept the critiques with grace.  On many forums I see writers who ask for help, but then refute every helpful tip they are given.  If you remain defensive, you can't be objective enough to be successful.  I wish I had been more open to asking for critique when I was new to writing.   That being said, unless it is asked for, don't be a critic! :)

9. Share, but do not spam.  One great way to get your work seen by like minds is to join social media groups on Facebook and Google+.  Be sure when you join groups however, that you are a full participant and not merely there for self-promotion.  Share good works that others have written and they will be more inclined to share back.  If you find your work is rarely or never shared; it may be time ask for a critique.  People are picky about what they share and will only share the best stuff as it tends to be a reflection of them to their peers.  Would you share something rife with grammatical and spelling errors; or not visually appealing?

10. Let your personality shine through your work, but don't make it all about "I".  When you address your readers, it should be addressed to them.  "You".  that doesn't mean you can't interject personal stories here and there to highlight a point.  Do this, but don't overdo it.  Your reader isn't there for your autobiography; they are there to learn something or be entertained.  If your anecdotes are not educational, remove them from the piece.  The harsh truth is I want to learn to make those muffins, not hear about your kids or your pets. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

7 Eye Opening Quotes About Writing by Famous Writers

Today, I thought I'd share some knowledge passed down by the greats that I found to be thought provoking and eye opening.  I hope you will enjoy them and allow them to give your muse a swift kick in the pants whenever needed.

Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.
– Ernest Hemingway

I find this to be very true. We often get caught up in the creativity of writing, but without a solid structure, even pretty words lose their meaning and intent.   

 Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.
– William Faulkner

 How many of us aspiring writers face writer's block? You know what that is? Fear of writing poorly.  We all write stuff that sucks - get over it and do it anyway; it's the only way you'll grow personally and professionally.

A wounded deer leaps the highest.
– Emily Dickinson

You can let rejection cause you to cave, or use it to compel yourself to spring into action and prove the bastards wrong... I find harsh criticism and rejection to be something I rebel against now and it has helped me immensely.  

“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”  ~ Stephen King

So true! The best writers are also voracious readers.  You learn by studying the greats.  Yes, it's possible to write without being a reader, but not if you ever want to reach your fullest potential.  Writers MUST read - it really is as simple as that.

“Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
Anton Chekhov

Show don't tell is always the best policy when it comes to writing.  Descriptive writing is enticing and draws readers in.  Don't "talk at" people, draw them a picture with your words.

“A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.”
Anthony Trollope

True! Better to write daily and develop small, regular habits than to simply wait until the mood strikes. The more you make it a regular part of your daily life; the easier it is to keep doing it and the faster you will improve your skills.

“If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.”
Martin Luther

I have always believed that words have within them the capacity to change the world - for better or worse.  I try to remind myself that as a writer; I have influence.  What a wonderful, empowered skill to use in an effort to leave this world a little better than I found it.  

Hopefully these 7 quotes have inspired you to take a fresh look at your motivations for writing.  Have a great weekend!