Category: Content Development

The one downside to the way blogs work

A blog is simple, the newest content is on top. Which is of course, the one downside to how a blog works. Basically, unless someone decides to click through your past archives, or check out all your categories, it is very likely that a new visitor will never see more than your most recent few posts. The goal is obviously, they will subscribe and see all future posts, but what about those posts from a year ago? There is always the “popular post” widgets where you can feature top posts, but what if it was really old, before you got a lot of comments? It wouldn’t be considered popular, therefore wouldn’t show up. I feel bad for old posts…especially the ones that are still relevant, really interesting, but most people will never see them.

So, in an effort to bring to light some oldies but goodies, I wanted to feature 4 of my favorite posts from more than 6 months ago (that I believe are still completely relevant!):

  1. Why I’m a nerd …and totally okay with it!
  2. Creativity in airports
  3. Do you know your creative breaking point?
  4. What is your “Mount Everest”

How can your new readers find your old gems? Do you have an old favorite post you want to share with your readers?

Do you write the way that you speak?

I can not count the number of times that I have met someone and they have told me that I speak/carry myself exactly how I write. Sometimes I am not sure if they consider that a good thing or a bad thing, but personally, I am extremely proud of it.

When you meet me, I want you to feel comfortable. I believe it would be very awkward if after reading my blog posts for awhile, you met me and found out that I was a stuffed shirt who wasn’t actually sarcastic in real life. But of course, I am most definitely not a stuffed shirt and I use sarcasm as much in real life as I do in my writing.

I love ellipsis (…) and use them a ton in my writing because, well, I speak that way! Ellipsis allow for more, periods are so final, both in writing and in speaking. You can leave a sentence open to whatever interpretation the reader/listener wants to take with an ellipse… Jan over at Creative Instigation actually wrote a great post about ellipsis…

I also use the dash (-) a lot, to insert another thought into a sentence. I don’t do this for ‘dramatic writing effect’, I do it because I do it in real life too. I’ll pause during a thought – break it off and comment about something else – and then come back to my original thought. Could I use commas? Yes. Would that be more grammatically correct? Probably. But this is my blog, and I will write it the way I want, that is my right as a writer and I plan on using it!

What is important about how I write and speak? Well, it speaks volumes about who I am as a business owner and the types of clients I work with.

When I first decided to start my business and take it on as a full-time, 100% dedicated career, I talked with quite a few people in my industry. Those who had built successful businesses and had learned a thing or two, and were willing to share some advice. They all had really great thoughts, but when it came to my writing style, about half of them told me; “You don’t sound professional enough. You write for the masses instead of writing to attract high paying clients. You should never write the way you speak.” And unfortunately, this is where they lost my attention.

The other half loved my writing style and thought that if it worked for me, then I should stick with it. They said that my writing was extremely well done and the samples of client work I had showed my variety. They explained that this is my blog, and I should write it how I feel it should be written, as long as that continues to be successful.  This half I listened to. They were no more successful than those who thought I should change my writing, they had no more experience than the other half, so why did I listen?

Because they were no less successful. They had no less experience. Which meant that their opinions mattered just as much – and their opinion (and experience) told me what I already believed: If it works for you, do it! Do not try to be someone you are not or you will hate yourself and the work you do.

And this is what I have stuck with, and while I have only officially been a business owner for 3 months, my business is doing well. My writing attracts incredible clients, clients that I want to work with, and understand what they are getting from the very beginning. There are no surprises when they see the work I do for them because they already know what they can expect from me just from reading a bit of my writing and checking out my work. Then, when they talk to me in person, they see it all matches and it makes working with me simple – no surprises or personality changes.

Do you write the way you speak? If not, why not? If yes, what type of responses do you get?

Choosing where to comment

If you’re anything like me, you have a whole heck of a lot of blogs that come via rss every morning. Currently, I have about 50 that I subscribe to and read every day. I also love leaving comments on the blogs that I read, but as I was commenting on a couple posts this morning, I found something very interesting: I rarely comment on posts that already have a lot of comments. I read their posts, but when I notice that I would be the some-teenth comment, I choose not to leave one. I would much prefer to leave a comment on a blog post that has no other comments then on one that has 20 or 30 other comments.

So, after leaving comments on a couple posts that didn’t have any yet, and not leaving comments on those who did have a ton…my thoughts caught up with me. Am I the only one that does this? Do other people prefer to leave comments on blogs that already have a lot? What drives someone to leave a comment in the first place? And the most important – why is it that I comment this way?

Never being okay with just wondering, I dissected my commenting strategy:

First, I feel that if I comment on a post that has no comments (or even just one or two) that my comment will be more appreciated. It will make the person realize that they did write something quality, and that they touched at least 1 person that day with their thoughts.

Second, I feel like if you already have 30 or so comments, why do you need mine? More than likely it will just get lost in the clutter, or will sound similar to someone else. I don’t feel special leaving a comment on a blog that has that many comments already – and a commenter deserves to feel special.

And finally, I know what it feels like to get no comments on a post that I worked a long time on, and that feeling sucks. So, if I can, I try to keep others from that feeling. I want good writers to keep writing, and I know how hard it was for me when I wouldn’t get comments to want to keep writing.

What is your commenting strategy? Do you like commenting when there are lots of others or do you prefer to help out someone who doesn’t have a lot of comments? And the kicker – what makes you want to comment at all?

Refocus your 5 senses and improve your writing

Touch – wood, fur, velvet, keyboard keys…they all feel extremely different and bring out different emotions. When is the last time you just let yourself enjoy the touch of something? When I am struggling with my work, I will take a moment and my computer to the couch, rather than my office chair. The comfortable seat, squishy pillows and silky texture gives my body and hands a new sensation to motivate me. On top of the feeling, it can also help to relax me and bring about a whole new perspective.

IMG_3268 Sight – What do you look at every day? Walls? Windows? A picture of your significant other or maybe you don’t even notice… What your eyes take in feeds your mind, and creates motivation. If you are having trouble focusing on a task, or breaking through a mental block, try changing your view and see what new surroundings can do. Each day, I sit in a closet. Seriously. Our condo is small, so my office is actually the closet of the second bedroom converted by my hubby. So I stare at the back of a closet, and the photos of my hubby, my bridesmaids and me at the wedding and to the right, my to-do white board. As nice as I have made it, sometimes, I need a little different view. When that’s the case, I will either take my work outside, or just take a quick walk to jump-start my visualization.

the beachSmell & Sound – Although these are very different senses, when I need motivation and a refresh, they are always accomplished in one fell swoop – at the beach! The noise of the waves, the birds and the people combined with the salty smell, my brain almost can’t handle the changes that it creates in my motivation. My favorite beaches to visit when I need some help? Either San Clemente or Dana Point.

Taste – I love coffee in the morning, every morning, at least 2 cups. It is my creative starter each morning. But some mornings, I need something different. Ice cold milk, hot chocolate, cranberry juice…something that will twist my taste-buds and hopefully feed my brain with a new idea and a new angle. If you are stuck somewhere and can’t get your brain out of neutral, try grabbing something to eat or drink that is out of the ordinary.

What sense motivates you the most when you change it up? Any places/tastes/sights/touches you prefer?

Sharing some favorites

I absolutely love blogs, the way that it is so simple to subscribe and get it in whichever rss feed you choose (or by email!), the customization, the fact that they always have new information, and the multitude of topics.

What I don’t like is old but great articles are not always easy to find. First, even with a ‘most popular post’ widget on the sidebar, it doesn’t always show the ones you would want. And second, many people forget to even look for that on the sidebar.

So, I figured I would share 1 of my favorites from each month of 2009 (and why I like them)! I hope you enjoy them as much as I liked writing them :)

  1. Defining a social media system. I loved this one because it made me really think about what I was doing and hold myself accountable.
  2. 5 design rules everyone should know. A lot of times even I forget the rules, and it was a good refresher on what to do and what not to do.
  3. What to do when things fail. Unfortunately, we all will at some point. Writing this post helped me to realize that it was okay.
  4. Can I solve your problem today? This was my favorite one from the problogger challenge, and definitely the one that took the most time and effort. But it was worth it.
  5. 5 hysterical social media videos. Okay, not brilliant writing on my part, but c’mon…they are just so darn funny!
  6. What has twitter taught you? While I don’t believe that twitter is the be all end all of social networks, I do love it. And, I have learned a great deal about myself and my business through using it.
  7. How do I manage my writing. The title says it all.
  8. Nothing like watching your work grow. Sometimes business ideas don’t come from anything related to business at all.

Make sure to leave a comment on the posts letting me know your thoughts on the ones you may have missed…

The 7 sins of creativity and writing – Pride

Today is the final one of the 7 sins of creativity and writing. If you haven’t seen the rest, start with the first 6, lust, gluttony, greed, slothwrath and envy.

Wrapping it up is pride. While taking pride in your work is important, too much pride is dangerous – so dangerous that pride is actually considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and indeed the ultimate source from which the others arise.

But what makes pride so dangerous? Pride sneaks up on you, it is subtle and very good at hiding just under the surface. You don’t even realize that you have been overwhelmingly boastful until it’s too late and you have alienated someone with your attitude. Unfortunately, we all boast in our writing, even the top bloggers are guilty.

Ari Herzog did it when he talked about getting fans to facebook like he did, Copyblogger did it when he wrote about how he made tons of money using Amazon affiliates, Chris Brogan did it when talking about new book being a best seller. While all of those posts were designed to teach something (facebook fan pages, how to use amazon better, and how to get a book promoted) the undertone of pride was almost too much to bear.

But, we give them a break because they know what they are talking about, have a blog with a lot of readers and are considered experts in their fields. We allow them to write in this manner, and don’t say a word.

The question of the day: Should they be granted that free pass to be prideful just because they are good at what they do? What about someone like me who may have had too much pride when I wrote about starting my own business?

Lastly, never one to keep an incredible find to myself, I just discovered that the entire Divine Comedy, the book that started my curiosities of the sins, Dante Alighieri’s incredible work, is available entirely online and for free! I’ve read it twice, but somewhere in all the moves I have made over the last 5 years, it was lost. I am so excited to be able to read it again and I cannot recommend it enough: The Divine Comedy, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The 7 sins of creativity and writing – Envy

We are getting close to the end of the 7 sins. If you’re just tuning in, make sure to check out lust, gluttony, greed, sloth and wrath.

Now, let’s turn our attention to envy. The difference between envy and greed is rather difficult to explain, so I will let wikipedia do it for me: “Like greed, Envy (Latin, invidia) may be characterized by an insatiable desire; they differ, however, for two main reasons. First, greed is largely associated with material goods, whereas envy may apply more generally. Second, those who commit the sin of envy resent that another person has something they perceive themselves as lacking, and wish the other person to be deprived of it.”

Creative people come up with unique desires and goals. Envious people want something some one else has.

Simply put, envy isn’t creative.

Be creative and write 1 of your own desires or goals in the comments.

The 7 sins of creativity and writing – Wrath

So far in the series of 7 sins, we have covered lust, gluttony, greed and sloth. The next in line is wrath - an uncontrolled feeling of anger or rage. When you combine this with the ease to publish content to the web, it can be very dangerous.

So what is the solution?

Don’t write when you are angry.

Wrong.

The solution is managed wrath.

Huh? What do I mean?

I mean that if you allow the wrath to control you, you can end up like…

…the woman who takes to her facebook page to complain about her boss and forgets he is a friend on Facebook?

…Or, tweeting about a job that you just got, and losing it almost immediately because of complaining about it like a new hire from Cisco did!

…Or tweeting about how much you can’t stand the town you were just in for an extremely important meeting like a Ketchum Exec did to FedEx and Memphis, TN.

…And there is always that blogger who goes a little crazy without sleep and a with new baby (and apparently a really bad Maytag washer).

But, if you can manage your wrath and filter it into something productive, you can wind up with incredible articles and stories like…

…when a health care company completely failed at its job, reported by Steve Woodruff

…then there’s Karen’s story about Steak and Shake denying a her service because she is deaf.

…and we all remember what happened when United broke a guys guitar.

These were all successfully put together and executed properly because they managed the wrath! That is the key. Writing sometimes needs a little anger and frustration, but only if it can be managed.

Have you seen an example of wrath that was either managed or mismanaged? Share it here!