The A-2-Z of business blog writing: E is for Editing

HTWB knifeEditing is a topic writers (and editors, natch) have been arguing about for decades, if not centuries.

Writers often say that (nonfiction, especially) editors are ruthless butchers who shred good writing right down to its knickers [Read more…]

What can you blog about? Jargon busting

small__503600331 (2)Getting good business blog ideas is becoming an increasing headache for many business people. In this series, we take a look at some key areas of inspiration to help trigger ideas for your next blog post. This time, we look at jargon busting. [Read more…]

Blogging: never mind the toy-toys – it’s quality time

small_2493066577Why has it taken so many so-called “expert” bloggers to get up to date with what’s actually important in blogging today?

Nearly two years ago I wrote this article which, since then, has had nearly 25,000 views on this humble wee blogsite here.

A lonely voice in the wilderness for a long time. But in the last few weeks, finally, I have seen a number of other bloggers – and even some of the so-called “expert” bloggers – take this issue up with a vengeance.

The other day one even wrote an indignant article criticizing British bloggers and social media users for misusing the word “blog.” Much as I totally agree that correct terminology is important for the sake of clarity, I wonder why it has taken this person nearly two years to come round to that way of thinking?

Where have all these “blog experts” been, and what have they been doing?

This is a matter for speculation, but it strikes me that they were all far too busy putting the blogging cart before the horse to realize that things were changing and they were concentrating on the wrong things.

These people got into blogging because they thought it was a cool way to use lots of whistles and bells basically to sneak subtle advertising messages in under the cyber-radar. Their idea of good blogging was to use advertising and direct mail copywriting techniques from the 1960s to grab readers’ attention and then, mixed up within some supposed editorial chit-chat, were all the right keywords and selling messages getting readers to buy, sign up, download a freebie, etc.

small__503600331 (1)Some of these characters even started out by saying that “blogging” and “writing” were two different things, although I have a funny feeling they would find that concept a bit embarrassing now. And ironically that was appropriate in their case, because what they put in their blog posts certainly wasn’t writing. Well, not good writing, anyway.

However now, many so-called blogging experts purporting to help clients blog better have become keen to show how good writing is key to success. All of a sudden.

Of course, I couldn’t agree more. (And the fact that recent new Google initiatives like Panda and Penguin plus Penguin 2.0 force bloggers to focus much more on quality of content than on hard-selling junk, is not entirely unconnected with the change in focus!)

But how come all those “experts” have taken this long to get around to promoting good writing, especially when I and other professional writers like me have been offering such services for years (and making quite a good living out of it)?

And given that these people started out as “bloggers” – some of whom even sneered down their noses at “writers” – how can you trust them to show you the right ways to write for successful blogging now? It’s all very well selling clients colorful gargoyles and whizzing bow ties to make their blogsites look “professional,” and then selling them all sorts of further toy-toys to measure this and get metrics for that. But if the writing – those humble words that cost nothing – is cr*ppy, the whole thing will fail.

Tech and toy-toys should support good words and other content

I’m hardly an expert on the tech elements of blogging. I make no secret of it; I don’t like toy-toys unless they do something very, very valuable that supports the words / pictures / moving pictures / audio. Words and other editorial content are the dog: tech and toy-toys are the wagging tail.

Frankly, I don’t want to learn about all that side of the blogging spectrum for two reasons: 1) I’m not technically minded and 2) if I were to learn about it in detail that would probably obscure my vision of what the pure content should be doing. The writing is what I’m good at; it’s why people hire me; and it’s what gets their audiences interested and engaged in the first instance.

When my clients ask me about the more tech elements of their blogs, I cheerfully refer them to my good friend Babs Saul (who masterminds this site) and/or others who have the right expertise and qualifications.

As blogging has grown exponentially, so has the number of real experts and so-called “experts” available to help you do it well. My feeling, and that of many others in the business as well as all my clients, believe that is you want a special blog, you need specialized guidance and advice.

If you want to know what to blog about, stick with HTWB

blogging,writing,blog writing,business,newsletter,,How To Write Better,Suzan St MaurFollow us on here in the coming weeks for some fab free blog writing advice, with two new blogging series starting in September, too.

And if you need more in-depth help give me a holler. I’m not cheap, but I’m very, very good at making your blog writing work.

Let’s blog on together. The write way…

While you’re here, don’t forget to stop by my Bookshop…books and eBooks to help you write better – and to give to friends and family…

photo credit: Mike Licht, via photopin cc
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These Boots Are Made For Bloggin’ … by popular demand

medium_88993263 (1)After last week’s laughs with my re-write of the lyrics to Paul Simon’s wonderful track, “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” re-interpreted into “50 Ways To Win At Blogging,” I’m thrilled to say that I got a whole load of shares and support from folks saying “hey – do one of these a week!”

So I’m going to try for a while, at least.

These Boots Are Made For Bloggin’ [Read more…]

Blogging: a fresh look at “posticles” and “artiposts”

medium_2493066577 (2)Nearly two years ago I wrote this post wondering just how blog posts and articles might cross over, although at the time they were usually considered to be very different animals. Now, though, how have we moved forward? If so, in which way or ways? Have blog posts finally graduated from being, well, blog posts, to being shortish articles? Or are they still considered different and inferior to articles, at least if journalists and other traditionalists are to be believed? Although this is only my opinion, I think the traditionalists are having to curtail their sneers at the better bloggers and accept that blogging is now 21st century article writing. Here’s why… [Read more…]

Business blogs: bum clicks, con tricks – quick fix?

medium_967029636Have you noticed the latest fashion in business blogging? Hunky little plugins and other similar tools that fetch up all sorts of stuff off the internet “closely related” to your topic, doing the research work for you, so all you need do is write a few linking lines (some bloggers don’t even bother with that) and bingo, you have a biz-blog post?

Although these plugins may be useful for bloggers and curators who want to share online content, there are some rather harsh questions which come to mind on behalf of business bloggers who understandably want to retain readers’ attention on their own sites.

What happens when bloggers use these toy-toys?

I doubt whether statistics exist yet, but there is one very important question I would ask here. It is probably a question worthy of the little boy who popped the question in the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes … an example of how truth should matter over and beyond ridiculous and unproductive assumptions.

When you use such plug-ins (that lead you to loads of blogs elsewhere on the web), do readers always bother to come back to your blog? In a word? No. They may come back once or twice, but once their attention is truly captured by one of the numerous choices the toy-toy has selected, you and your site are toast.

Never mind long-winded statistics saying how beneficial all these links may be to your Google visibility: as it happens, Google doesn’t like it if you have too many links in a blog post. Common sense tells you that to keep your readers reading your information on your blog, although the odd click away is acceptable, too many clicks away mean you’re at serious risk of them disappearing off elsewhere and not returning to your site because their attention has been distracted elsewhere.

Other bum clicks and con tricks?

medium_304626291Out there in the blogosphere there are still many, many terrible articles – the majority of which are written in 10 minutes by an impoverished dollar-store writer or even vomited up by some of the free article spinning software that is still around. Google is trying hard to weed these out with initiatives like Panda and Penguin, but like weeds, the bad stuff tends to grow back even more vigorously. They’re still around.

Their purpose is quite simple: produce an expanse of text of at least 500 words addressing a sort-of related topic in whatever gobbledy-gook fashion you like, stuff it full of juicy keywords and links to sites that usually have nothing whatsoever to do with the topic concerned. The advertising customer grudgingly pays about USD $5.00 for it, and voilá. Easy, isn’t it?

Nope. It’s just more cons for clicks.

What can you do to avoid these fripperies?

“Fripperies” – isn’t it just a wonderful word? Anyway as always, quality content keeps people reading your words, not someone else’s, and not those designed purely to accommodate keywords.

No matter how much you may be tempted by the so-called “blogging gurus” to try (and buy) wonderful toy-toys that can curate and provide you with instant content written by other people to fill out your own blogging, don’t fall for it. And of course, don’t fall for so-called “bespoke” articles you buy in for a few dollars a time.

Recently I was invited to join a group of writers where we could earn up to USD $18.00 per hour, if we were churning out 500-word articles at the rate of between 10 and 15 minutes a hit.

I’m not very good at math, but – reassured that the basic rate was just under USD $3.00 per 500 word article – I worked out that in order to make a reasonable living from such an offering I would need to knock out at least 10 articles per hour, or more.

Given that the time available for each article is somewhat short, what the hell options are there for the writer to do a little research into the subject matter? None.

So instead, what you get is a) – if you’re lucky – the writer’s own knowledge of the subject which s/he can call up instantly or b) some utter bullsh*t dreamt up in the hope that it’s vaguely à propos.

Is there a way of avoiding these online biz-blog cesspits?

small__2804995495Yes. If you’re creating a blog post or article, spend some time looking into your topics of interest – and more importantly, those of your target audience. Learn about the latest information, ideas and predictions in your marketplace, and tell your readers what YOU think about them.

Whatever you do, though, don’t encourage your readers to drift off in other directions – as it is so, so easy to do on the internet – by using these plug-ins, article-spinning options and other so-called helpful tools that provide you with instant clicks through to numerous related articles … which may or may not be relevant to what you’re talking about in your post.

People may tell you that such devices are being outlawed now, but the reality as far as I and many others can see, is that they are still in evidence … and are unlikely to be totally destroyed for some time to come.

Sharing is great, but must not replace original thinking

By all means share the views of experts in your field, but never lose an opportunity to put your own spin on those views … and write about how those views can (or not) work for you and your readers.

Many say the internet is all about sharing content and to a large extent, it is. But when sharing content can dilute the message that you are putting across to help sell your products and/or services, the philanthropic element has to be put into perspective. We need to earn our livings.

So don’t get lured into these “share-all” tools and plugins … remember where you are coming from and what your business message needs to remain strong and prominent.

For more ideas on how to keep readers on YOUR blog posts and focused on what you have to share, here are a few good tips (and I make no apologies for sharing three of my own posts !!) …

Business blog posts: 6 ways to make sure they kick ass
Blogging for business: finding your voice … helllooo?
Blogging grammar goofs: get real. Goofs are bad for business.

blogging,writing,blog writing,business,newsletter,,How To Write Better,Suzan St MaurAnd needless to say there’s a lot more from where those came, here on HTWB.

No tricks, just some more writing help: (instant downloads)

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write
“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English
The MAMBA Way to make your words sell“…how to think  your way to superbly successful sales writing

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