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Blogging: What I've Learned


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Workshop on blogging given 10/25/2014. What gets shared? What's microcontent? How do you mind map?

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Blogging: What I've Learned

  1. 1. Steal from the best Learn from the mistakes of others What I’ve learned about blogging
  2. 2. Why blog? • Over 31 million bloggers in the US in 2011. • Over 316 million people in the US in 2013. • Aren’t you still worth knowing? • You have a unique voice.
  3. 3. Job seekers take note “Candidate blogs and posts will rise in importance as a means of getting noticed by employers, along with fellow professionals.” will-affect-employment-search-in-2015?published=t
  4. 4. Marketers take note A blog provides your business or cause • Better visibility, • Increased credibility, • Lead generation opportunites.
  5. 5. Your experience? • What blogs do you follow? What makes them worth your time? • What was the last item you shared on social media? • Why did you share it? • Did you read it (listen/watch) the entire item before you shared it?
  6. 6. Authority, Status I shared this because of its
  7. 7. proof of my group’s (state’s) unique quality. And it’s a list. I shared this because of its
  8. 8. usefulness. I found it first. I shared this because of its
  9. 9. humor, emotion, identity I shared this because of its
  10. 10. What gets shared • Longer format • Has an image • Invokes awe, laughter, or amusement. • Appeals to people’s narcissistic side. (Yah, what she said; quizes; my people) • Lists, infographics • Trustworthy • Shared by an influencer (friend, celebrity, expert)
  11. 11. What’s out there • Lacks your thoughts, your views, your images, your voice. • Might miss your audience. • Might become popular long after publication date. • Can have an impact if it reaches just one right person. • Covers a topic that others have written about before.
  12. 12. Blog example
  13. 13. Stock photo Title is not compelling. What therapy? Keyword at the end. Dry lead Author and reviewer credited Blog example
  14. 14. Social Google+ allows so much more copy. Make use of it. Give people a reason to click.
  15. 15. Blog on same topic
  16. 16. Blog on same topic Keywords at beginning of title. Is this post written for University of Miami alumni, doctors, or women with breast cancer?
  17. 17. Blog post review
  18. 18. Blog post review Informative, keyword-rich title Rating shows this one article is targeted to two different audiences: Patients or health professionals.
  19. 19. Blog on same topic
  20. 20. Blog on same topic Title elicits some emotion. Deck, or subhead, is easily missed. Original photo? Begins with a question. Suggestion for additional reading
  21. 21. Social Different photo. Different title. Same blog post.
  22. 22. Blog on same topic
  23. 23. Blog on same topic Links Headings Lists Reviewed by authority Credits source Keywords “sex drive” instead Of “libido”
  24. 24. Blog post review
  25. 25. Blog post review Nostalgia is popular People love to read quotes Photos and images don’t have to be magazine quality to capture a reader’s attention. Category links do get clicked
  26. 26. Curate content from others
  27. 27. Curation guidelines • Don’t just copy. • Include a link and attribution. • Write a new title. Use a new image. • Write for your audience. Choose quotes, images, examples, and other content for their interests. • Introduce your own voice. Have an opinion. • Use a variety of sources.
  28. 28. Still promote yourself
  29. 29. Your challenge is to write the BEST post for YOUR audience • More informative • More useful • More easily read or understood • More entertaining • From your audience’s perspective • With your own voice
  30. 30. Content review • Write the way you talk. • Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs. • Avoid jargon and words like utilize, reconceptualize, attitudinally, etc. • Use jargon to establish your membership of a community. (Gamer site should use gamer jargon.) • Check quotations for accuracy (and tone). • Use indicators of authority. • Let the readers know what you want them to do next.
  31. 31. Alan Bleiweiss: QUART • Quality • Uniqueness • Authority • Relevance • Trust Note: Humans trust those who show vulnerability. Share judiciously.
  32. 32. One real rule • Meets the visitors’ needs (to be informed, entertained, understood, respected, part of the group, etc.)
  33. 33. WRITE: Topic ideas • <Favorite cause> awareness • Getting your toddler to try new foods • Starting a new workout program • Getting your kids and yourself outdoors • Your favorite childhood toys • Preparing your daughter for her first pap test
  34. 34. WRITE: Your topic Mind map it. • What do you actually want to write about? • Where do your thoughts take you? • What’s your call to action?
  35. 35. WRITE: Mind Map your topic Winter sports X-country ski curl downhill Snowshoe Ice skate Snowmobile cold discomfort Newest trend? St. Paul, Blaine locations Difficult to get started? Indoor? indoor What winter sports can I do indoors? Proper equipment hockey expensive
  36. 36. Übersuggest (mind maps from others)
  37. 37. WRITE: Your topic Consider your audience. • What does your audience want to know or need to understand? • What questions can you answer for them? • What will capture their attention? • What are the reader’s key take-aways?
  38. 38. Great advice “Great content creators aren’t necessarily great storytellers, but they are fantastic tour guides: They introduce you to a subject you’re unfamiliar with, and they help you arrive at a certain understanding without losing you along the way.”
  39. 39. WRITE: The Q & A: example • What activities can I do in the winter? • Where can I go and be active, but not be outside? • What’s something new I can introduce to my kids and maybe my significant other? • How can I avoid the bitter cold? • Title draft: Hate the cold? Try indoor winter sports.
  40. 40. WRITE: Your topic Outline it. • In what order should ideas be presented? • How could it best be presented? What format should it take? • What should the reader do next? What actions do you want the reader to take? • Are there ideas that would be better saved for a second post?
  41. 41. Outline I. Intro (Problem = cold … Solution = indoors) II. Relate to Olympics? Olympic fashions? (image) III. Twin Cities locations [sidebar list with fees] a. Skating (quote from venue owner) b. Curling (quote from new participant) IV. Equipment (type, where to rent/buy) V. Complete cost summary (fees, equipment, effort) VI. CTA: New to sport? Check with physician. Exercise in winter. Try a new sport.
  42. 42. “The first draft of anything is shit.” ―Ernest Hemingway
  43. 43. Titles • Titles are your bait. • They capture your reader and they capture search engines. • Use words your audience would use. • Be informative. • Use tricks from next few slides.
  44. 44. Titles and headings capture the eye
  45. 45. Titles & meta descriptions solicit the click
  46. 46. Titles for your review
  47. 47. Titles for your review
  48. 48. Titles for your review
  49. 49. WRITE: Five Titles • Best titles might require a new outline. Or suggest a second post. Use up to about 55 characters. This is all that will show on a search results page. The rest will get cut off.
  50. 50. Example: Five Titles • Why not curl this winter? • Avoid the cold: curl or skate indoors • Five indoor winter sports to try around Mpls. 50 • Indoor family-friendly winter sports • How I learned to love winter sports — indoor sports 51 • Warm winter sports – indoor sports.
  51. 51. Share titles • Critique titles. • Suggest new ones. • Share your favorites.
  52. 52. WRITE: Revise your outline Write the headers for each section. Identify possible sidebars, images, pullquotes, etc. I’m going to add a question: What are the four indoor winter Olympic sports? And then new paragraphs on speed skating, figure skating, and hockey. Should I add locations for laser tag, rock climbing, bowling, or billiards?
  53. 53. WRITE: Micro-content Deck (subhead) Meta description (~156 characters) Call-to-action(s) Image caption and alt tag description Twitter post (<140 characters, hashtag) Facebook post (photo & text) Google+ post (photo & more text)
  54. 54. Shared Images • Surprising • Funny or cute • Inspirational • Contain quotes • Useful • Relatable • Have a “WTF” angle • Convey only one message
  55. 55. Different priorities by personality – DiSC model D • Bottom line up front • Results, quality, authority • Success, their goals i • Enthusiasm, excitement, optimism • Trusting relationships • Quotes, uniqueness, new S • Sincerity, respect • Dependability, security • Like to share, be helpful C • Analysis, evidence • Quality, competency • Logic, lists, how-to, comparisons
  56. 56. Teasers for personality types • D – Meet your fitness goals without going outdoors • i – Join others in unusual indoor sports • S – Local indoor sport opportunities to share with friends • C – Top 6 Twin Cities locations for indoor sports
  57. 57. Examples for personalities • How will you incorporate one of these priorities or motivators into your blog post? • Share with your group. Write a Facebook or Twitter teaser for each type.
  58. 58. Format review • Be ready to re-purpose your topic. • You might need yet another post tied to news, weather, recurring events. • Write more posts on topics surrounding your currently popular content. • If you’re stuck in need of a post, reformatting an old one solves the problem.
  59. 59. Outline with a different format • Book summaries • Cartoons, comics • Case studies • Charts, graphs, data, stats • Cheat sheets • Comparisons • Creative stories • Demonstration video, steps • Event information • History • How-to guides • Illustrations, infographics • Interviews • Lists • Personal bio, experience • Photo galleries, Pin boards • PowerPoint or SlideShare • Product review or service info. • Q&As, FAQs • Questionnaires, quizzes • Quotes and inspirational messages • Research or synthesized info. • Results of polls, surveys, and questionnaires • Site tour videos • Testimonials • “To do” and “what not to do” articles • Worksheets
  60. 60. Build up an archive • Write stories like those that succeed for your competition. • Go deeper, higher, farther, funnier, simpler. • Write a better title. • Make it link-worthy. • Make it a landing page. • Solve a problem. • Be the resource for at least a few types of content.
  61. 61. Test • Create and fail. • Create and fail less spectacularly. • Create and win. • Look at  Shares  Views  Time of page  Click through to goal sites
  62. 62. Review Call-to-action Meta description (~156 characters) Twitter post (<140 characters, hashtag) Facebook post (photo & text) Google+ post (photo, more text, _italics_ and *bold*, hashtag)
  63. 63. Again: refocus, repurpose Narrow down your audience. or Narrow down your topic. • My example: one post for moms with tweens/teens (cost, social/physical benefits focus), one for couples/adults (social vs. competitive focus) • Two differently targeted social media posts
  64. 64. Summary • Have a great information-rich title. • Craft your formatting -- the more scannable, the better. • Have a ‘So What?’ -- a takeaway that serves as the backbone of a piece. • Write with empathy for your reader. • Write vividly. (Use figurative language, imagery, metaphors, quotes). • Support your arguments with research, and cite your sources with hyperlinks. • Select an evocative image. • Revise. • Proofread.