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Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’

As part of an online editing and writing group on LinkedIn, I have seen the topic of blogs come up in the discussion forums fairly frequently. Not so surprising, considering everyone seems to have one, or two, or five. Often, the topic (and ever-present question) is whether a blog is essentially “giving away the milk for free.”

I recently commented on one of these discussion threads summing up my feelings on blogging and why I blog (in quite a tiny nutshell) that went something like this: I must admit that I love blogging and that although I actually don’t get to do it as often as I would like, I feel it is a valuable enterprise as far as self-advertisement is concerned. I’m mainly a professional editor and proofreader who does light writing for enjoyment more so than pay, so perhaps my perspective differs a bit from one who is primarily writing for pay. However, I have to say that my blog has brought me paying clients and jobs that I would not have found otherwise. The posts I write consist mainly of grammar rules, my opinion/comments on pieces I see in various newspapers (which I then sometimes expound on with additional web sites or links), and I have a featured poem section that I post occasionally on Sundays. I think of my blogging as an extension/example of my professionalism, my expertise, and my love of language in all its forms. Additionally, I should say that I never put anything on my blog that I would hope to sell later, and I never spend hours upon hours working on my blog, as I don’t want it to interfere with the paying jobs. I blog when time permits, and I like to think that I formulate simple but informative copy quickly and concisely- hopefully that’s what my readers are getting!

Many others voiced a similar use for their blogs in the comments of the discussion thread: self-promotion, an opportunity for others to find you and your work, a way to move toward your goals, a way to create a following that will hopefully be interested and loyal enough to pay for your book or article once its published, and an opportunity to generate trust from future clients if your blog is well-written and your information is accurate.

I like to think that I keep my blog professional and that it reflects well on me as an editor, proofreader, and writer. I think it’s clear that my personal answer to the question of whether blogging is “giving away the milk for free” is no, certainly not. My advice (not that you asked, but that is part of the beauty of the blog!) is to use your blog to invite your readers to see what you can do but only give them a taste. Don’t post whole articles or stories, don’t post anything you are hoping to sell at some point, and don’t spend an inordinate amount of time writing posts.

I’d love to hear what you think. Please post some suggestions, comments, or your answer to the question: Is blogging “giving away the milk for free?”

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As the 2nd Annual WordCount Blogathon comes to a close (tomorrow being the last day of May), I realize just how happy/relieved I am that it’s almost over. Not that I didn’t enjoy writing everyday, and not that it didn’t raise my visits per day, or teach me a lot about blogging (strategies, tips, and SEO included) but it did, surprisingly, turn out to be hard work. 

At times, it was thinking of topics that flummoxed me and at others, I had a topic but had a hard time finding the time to actually sit down and write. I am a pretty hard-headed person however, so having put my mind to successfully completely this blogathon, I was not about to miss a day. I’m proud to say that I completed my mission, our collective mission, successfully (well, with tomorrow’s post I will have anyway, but it’s pretty much a guarantee that’ll happen).

As I mentioned in an eariler post, I strongly encourage bloggers, especially new bloggers, to participate in a blogathon for the learning experience it provides. This blogathon had around 40 bloggers participate, so it was also a great way to get introduced to other blogs on an amazing variety of topics. I hope they all had as much success and fun as I did!

My goals now that the Blogathon is coming to an end are to:

First and foremost, keep up with regular posting. Keeping a regular schedule keeps readers engaged and coming back for more, since they know they can count on new content.

Second, spend more time with each post. By that I mean craft solid, content-rich posts that will lead readers to more information on the topic I’m addressing and provide a new understanding of the information.

Third and last, have fun with it! I don’t think this one needs much explaination.

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I found an interesting blog that also happens to be part of The New York Times, like the Grammar News section I mentioned in a previous post. The blog is called After Deadline and examines “questions of grammar, usage and style encountered by writers and editors of The Times.”

This is potentially an informative and useful resource for those in journalism using AP style.

Tuesday’s post tackled varied subjects, from the phrase “openly gay,” describing when it is in/appropriate to use it to the recurring mistake of calling people who have moved from Puerto Rico to the United States “immigrants,” when in fact, they are not immigrants but U.S. citizens.

There is also a section called Bright Passages in which the author, Philip B. Corbett, brings our attention to what he calls “sparkling prose” that has been featured in various articles in The Times. I really enjoyed this section for the deft composition skills that it showed off and for that fact that rather than simply pointing out mistakes, as many grammar blogs do, it offered the reader a chance to admire some of the more resourceful and pithy phrasing in current reporting.

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Some of my favorite SEO tips are:

Be bold. Use the <b> </b> tags around some of your keywords on each page. Don’t use them everywhere the keyword appears; once or twice is plenty.

Linking. Make sure you have links coming in to as many pages as possible. What does all this linking tell a search engine? That you have lots of worthwhile content.

Article Exchanges/Guest Bloggers. Article exchanges or guest bloggers are like link exchanges, only more useful. You publish someone else’s blog article with a link back to their site. They publish your article with a link back to your site. You both have content. You both get high quality links.

Here are some sites with more tips for bloggers:

1. 8 Simple SEO Tips for Blogs– Lots of good info for the beginner.

2. Search Engine Optimization for Blogs– Detailed site from Problogger. A must.

3. Google Success SEO SEM Tips for Better Ranking– Everyone want to succeed on Google, right?

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As you may know, I’m participating in the 2nd Annual WordCount Blogathon, in which more than 40 freelance writers have committed to blogging every day in May. See a list of all the participants here.

While taking part in this experiment of sorts, and getting into the habit of writing for myself at least a little bit every day, I’ve also learned a few things that can be attributed directly to my participation:

1. Clearly Focused Attention. This blogathon has helped me tremendously with starting a new blog by focusing my attention on it intensely. Otherwise, I’m certain I would still be meandering through posts on a semi-regular/spotty basis with no real direction. Speaking of direction…

2. Direction.  I think I’m beginning to figure out what this blog is about (beyond the simple editing and writing part), what I’d like to and need to include, and where I might like to end up a whole lot sooner than I might have just posting whenever I felt like it. The fact that I’m posting every day has given me a sense of cohesiveness.

3. Ideas. Again, because I’m posting every day, I’m thinking and reading regularly about what I need to do to improve this blog, including its content, its readership, and its ability to be found on the internet (that is, SEO). I’ve posted a few blogging tips and links to other people’s blogging tips previously.

4. Establishing Regularity. Obviously, a month of posting every day has established regularity and boosted readership; however, looking beyond this initial month, I think the blogathon and its forced regularity will allow me to establish a slightly less intense but no less regular posting pattern. I fully believe that after posting every day for a month, I will be able to committ to posting at least three days a week and stick to it. I’m developing a habit and its even becoming something I look forward to.

5. Strategies. With all this regular posting bearing down on me night after night, I’ve developed strategies for preplanning topics and usually have at least the bare bones of a post or two lined up ahead of schedule. (I still have to get down writing my posts for the weekend ahead of time, but I think by then the blogathon will be over!)

So, although you may not be participating in this blogathon or have the opportunity to particiapte in an “official” one anytime soon, I highly recommend that you challenge yourself to participating in your own personal blogathon. This practice is especially helpful if you are starting a new blog or have a blog that’s been faltering for some time. And if you don’t think you can stick to it yourself, better yet, get your blogger friends involved and start your own group blogathon.

Cheers!

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Roche gavelSince beginning this blog, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a good writer and editor (I think it’s more than just grammatical correctness; however, that’s sure one crucial ingredient). I’ve also been thinking about what the implications of good and bad writing and editing can be and how writing and editing skills can effect people beyond their expectations. As these thoughts were roaming around my head, nagging at the back of my consciousness, I ran into two articles that seem to illustrate my point (that writing well is extremely important) to a weirdly heightened degree.  I thought I would share them with you since I found them astonishing, funny, interesting, and bizarre all at once.

In the first one, Supreme Court Decides What an Adverb Modifies, an illegal immigrant being tried for using fake social security and green cards (Flores-Figueroa v. United States) is saved from having an extra two years added onto his sentence by the adverb “knowingly.”

In the second one, Comma Quirk Irks Rogers, a misplaced comma may cost Rogers Communications Inc. an extra $2.13 million to use utility poles in the Maritimes. That’s one mighty piece of punctuation.

Enjoy!

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As the blogathon continues on this 7th day of May, its so far so good over here at Expert Editing and Writing. I had a hectic day on Monday and ended up writing my post at 7pm, squeezed between making dinner for myself and my boyfriend, making the dogs dinner, and trying to watch the evening news. Despite that small hassle, I’ve been able to keep on top of the blogging game by prepping a quick, bare-bones draft of my post for the following day on the evening before. That way, next day, I just polish it up and *zing* publish in a very short time if necessary. Of course, if I have abundant free time, by some miracle, I can spruce it up endlessly or even prepare more than one draft, say, to get ahead for the weekend.

As I learn more about blogging strategies, I’ve decided to attempt to have at least my topics lined up for a full weeks worth of posts, perhaps even have them already fleshed out a bit. Now, this may take some doing, but I think once I’ve got a weeks worth, I can go back to writing one each day and continually have a stash of almost-ready posts on the back burner.

Anyway, here are some great posts by fellow bloggers with some essential blogging tips and strategies. The first three are by Michelle Rafter, over at WordCount, quite appropriately, since her blogathon is the inspiration behind this frenzy of activity:

5 Ways to Blog Every Day Without Freaking Out

Top 10 Strategies to Drive Traffic to Your Blog

The Well-Dressed Blog Post

The last two are the fruit of some good ol’ Googling as I lightly researched the subject a little further and are from Daily Blog Tips and ProBlogger, respectively:

What’s Your Long-Term Blogging Strategy?

Driving Traffic to Your New Blog

I wonder how my fellow blogathon participants are making out? I think I’ll have to go and check…

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