Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blog post titles that win readers

When devising a title for your blog post keep it short and descriptive. "Catchy" is always fun, but "short and descriptive" will win more readers. I f you can pull off all three, that's even better.

We live in an impatient world. It may not seem fair, but in most cases, your title is all you have to draw people's attention to your post. We make decisions instantly, so you need a title for your blog post that will grab the reader's attention instantly. Here are some traits of good titles:

1. Short: Keep the title as short as possible. A short title will be easier to tweet on Twitter or announce on Facebook. And, a short title is easier to read at a glance.

2. Specific: Don't generalize. If your blog post is about the Mississippi River, don't title it "Waterways of America." Be as specific as possible with the nouns you use.

3. Numbers: Using numbers in the title is often eye-catching. For example, a good title for this blog post might have been, "5 ways to improve the titles of your blog posts." The "5 Ways" tells the reader that the article is going to be short and specific. And, there's an added advantage of putting a number at the front of the title of your blog post. Numerals in titles are usually listed first in an alphabetical list of blog post titles.

4. Inviting: Don't go for shock value in your titles and don't use overstatements in your titles. I'm not sure about everyone else, but I don't like it when the title exaggerates the content of an article. In fact, I end up feeling cheated somehow and might avoid that author in the future.

5. Catchy. As I stated earlier, catchy is okay as long as the title clearly tells the reader the topic of the blog post.

That's it. Get going and write some good titles. And, of course, feel free to share tips of your own for writing good titles.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Writing at your peak


Runners eat right, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and generally take care of themselves in order to run at their peak. What do you do to write at your peak?

Writers who are serious about their craft might find their performance much improved if they approached their craft with the dedication of a runner, or a musician who practices 8 or more hours a day, or a skater training for the Olympics.

We're approaching that time of year when many of us renew our dedication to ourselves and those things we love. For me, writing is one of those things. It is my profession, but it is also my avocation, my passion. When I am not writing, I am thinking about writing.

How about you? Are you devoted to your writing? Do you practice your writing? Sometimes we only think we are writing when we are being paid for it. That's not the case. Writers write.... some for practice, some for clients, and some for just the sheer joy of it.

If you're devoted to your writing, consider your writing routine and your life routine and alter your habits to ensure you are performing at your peak.
What do you do to make sure you write at your peak? Please comment...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Networking to help your blog


Regardless of why you blog (whether it's for business or just for fun), bloggers need readers. If you're writing just for yourself, keep it in your computer or notebook. No need to take the extra step and post it to a blog.

I assume most of you are writing for others to read. There are many opportunities to find readers by networking on the Internet. Get started with these:

1. Just posting to your blog is not enough. It's important to get involved and invite the involvement of others. When you write your blog post, be sure to invite others to comment and to spread the word about it.

2. Reciprocate. It's not all about you. Although you might be thrilled to finally have a spot to say what you want when you want, blogging is about communicating with others. Approach your blog in a friendly and inviting way. This will encourage followers.

3. When starting out, send an email to your list. Tell them a little something about your blog. After introducing your blog to them, be sure to send them a short notice each time you put up a new post.

4. Put a Followers gadget on your blog. This will give people the opportunity to sign on. They will be notified when you post a new entry to your blog.

5. Visit other blogs, follow them, and comment on their blog posts. This will encourage others to visit yours.

6. List your blog on blog directories. Find directories by searching for them in your favorite search engine.

7. Join social media sites pertaining to your topic. You can find many of these at ning.com. On your page on each social media site list the URL of your blog. Participate in discussions on these sites and people will become curious about you and begin to network with you. Facebook and Linkedin are good social media sites to join, also.

8. Twitter is another good spot where you will find it easy to network with possible followers. Set up a Twitter site to tell others about your blog. Each time you post to your blog, tweet about it on Twitter to let people know that it's there.

The best way to network with and about your blog is to remember that you are communicating with others not lecturing them. Approach each blog post and each communication about your posts as a conversation and people will find it much easier to respond to you.


How do you network about your blog? Leave a comment.
By the way.... to follow my own advice, I just added the Followers section to the right. Please join me in my blogging about blogs and about writing topics in general. Thanks.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Twitter and Your Blog: an Overview


Many times people put up blogs but never catch on to how to attract people to it to read their wonderful posts. One way to attract people to your blog is to write interesting and entertaining posts that people will want to read. Even at that, you may not attract a crowd if you don't first attract a few followers to spread the word.

Twitter will help you spread the word. So, go to Twitter.com and set up an account. The sign-in process is easy. Once you're there, set up your Profile page. If your Twitter site is mainly to announce what's going on at your blog, you may want to name your Twitter site the same as your blog.

Be sure to fill in the URL from your blog on the Settings page, so it will show up on your Profile page and people will be able to click to it. An additional option is to name the Twitter page after yourself, so you can use it for more than one topic.

Once you have your Twitter page set up, spend a couple hours searching for and finding people to follow who are interested in your topic and who might be interested in following you. Follow them. Devise four or five tweets and tweet to your new followers.

Here's a brief skinny on tweeting. The biggest mistake people make when they start on Twitter is they tweet only about themselves. Be generous with your tweets. Treat it as a communication system where you respond to other tweets as well as send out tweets about your topic.

Watch for more posts about Twitter in the future...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why is he smiling?


I call him Smiley... I took this picture yesterday. So, what I want to know is... why is he smiling?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Writing without a muse.


I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure what a muse is and what it actually could do for me – or is supposed to do for me. As far as I know, a muse has never landed on my shoulder and whispered in my ear.

I do know, however, that when I just daydream, I come up with some of my best writing. I’ll be sitting at a red light and my mind will hit on a great idea.

Unfortunately, I don’t always have a pen and pad or a computer or a tape recorder with me. Therefore, by the time I get home, the thought is most often gone and if it isn’t gone, the clever wording that went with the idea has certainly fled. Consequently, the world misses most of my best stuff.

What is the lesson here? Well, it’s to carry a pen and pad or a computer (perfect justification to get one of those netbooks) or a tape recorder with me at all times, so I can capture brilliance when it hits. The alternative to that is to try to simulate the relaxed state of my daydreams while I’m writing.

Now, I think there is something to that relaxation solution. I think the advice here is to stop straining to create. I think the advice is to sit back and write what comes to mind. Be a reporter of the story that is going through your brain instead of the creator of the story. Just let it flow and don’t worry about the outcome. Leave the straining for when you start revising and playing with your creation.

By relaxing and letting the story flow without censor, you just might have something worth re-writing when you’re done.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Using Twitter to guide readers to your blog

Twitter is just about the most efficient way to get the word out about your blog. Of course, to keep readers coming back, you must write an interesting blog.

Let's assume you do write interesting, dynamic blog posts. Here are some quick tips on how to use Twitter to guide more readers to your blog:

1. On Twitter, follow people who are naturally interested in your topic and they will follow you back.

2. Every time you post a new article on your blog, go to your Twitter account and tweet about it. Be sure to include the link to the post. For example, as soon as I post this article on The Helpful Blogger, I'll go to my Twitter account and tweet, "Helpful Blogger tips on Using Twitter to Guide Readers to Your Blog. Details at http://www.TheHelpfulBlogger.com." Or I could tweet a little less formally, such as "Just posted to my blog about using Twitter. Check it out at http://TheHelpfulBlogger.com.

3. Frequency. Twitter runs 24 hours. Some of your followers are from different time zones, such as Hawaii, Japan, Australia, England, etc. Don't forget about them . If you always tweet at 10:00 am, you'll only hit a fraction of your possible followers. Therefore, Tweet about your blog posting several times a day. If you can't sit around waiting to tweet at 2:00 in the afternoon, sign onto one of the applications that allow you to schedule tweets for the time you want them to go out. (I use Hootsuite.com for this. I type in tweets I want sent out throughout the day and let Hootsuite send them out at the times I have specified.)

4.# Hashtags. One way to increase the number of people who will see your tweets is to mark them with (#) hashtag categories. For example. I'll write my tweet as follows: "Using Twitter to guide readers to your blog. Details http://www.TheHelpfulBlogger.com #blogging, #blogger." By using #blogging and #blogger in the tweet, the tweet will show on a page of other tweets that have been marked #blogging or #blogger. Readers who go to #blogging or #blogger will see my tweet in the chronological stream of tweets that have these same hashtag markings . Some of these readers may already follow me, many probably don't. But they will learn about me there, and may start following.

5. Invite comments. Instead of just informing folks that your tweet is posted, invite comments. Another way to encourage people to click on the link is to ask a question and invite them to answer it in the comments section of your blog. For example, for this blog post, I could tweet. "Using Twitter to guide readers to your blog. http://theHelpfulBlogger.com. Add your tips!," or "Do you have tips on how to use Twitter to help your blog? Post comments at http://www.TheHelpfulBlogger.com"

6. Another good way to draw attention to your blog post is to make your tweets generally enjoyable to read. Don't always tweet about your blog. Tweet about your topic in general, throw a picture onto Twitpic.com occasionally with a great caption. Or send out a quote occasionally, and then when you post your blog, tweet about it. Your followers will be used to looking for your tweets and will click on the link to see what you have to offer.

Most of all, you will attract followers to follow you on Twitter and to your blog by enjoying it all. Your enjoyment and enthusiasm will show through and others will naturally want to read what you have to say.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why blog about your business


What did we ever do before blogging? Blogs open valuable lines of communication with customers/clients, associates and potential customers/clients, and a good blog allows you to reach these people faster and easier than past communication systems. Here are some of the reasons you should blog about your business

1. Announce the launch of your business or of new products and services much quicker and more economically that use a paper launch.
2. If you post interesting and valuable articles to your blog a couple of times per week, you'll keep your customers/clients interested in your business and what you are doing.

3. Use your blog to ensure you customers are well informed. By being the business in your category that provides customers and clients the information they need and when they need it, you just may get that next order rather than it going to a competitor.
4. Customer service is hard to come by lately. Through your blog you can increase your customer service in many ways. One way is to ask for their input on how you can serve them better. You can also conduct polls to keep up to date on the needs of your customers. Many times you can head off complaints in this manner.

5.Blog about your businesses to let your customers know about specials and discounts. If you post early information that will save them time and money, you'll find that you have made some loyal followers.

6. Finally, one of the most important reasons to blog about your business is increase your communication and connection with your clients/customers.