4 Bloggers Who Were Killed Because Of Their Content

The Internet has become a vehicle for justice and change. With thousands of people blogging about the problems they encounter with society, it is inevitable that some of these people will find themselves in trouble (even killed) for their writings. Some bloggers pay the ultimate price for their content. In fact, many more than you probably think.

In many countries, journalists and bloggers are censored and threatened with punishment for mentioning anything critical of their government or country. However, many still feel a need to publish their concerns and raise awareness. Unfortunately, several of these writers faced death because of this need. Let’s take a look at some recent instances of bloggers who were killed because of their content.

U.S. Bangladeshi Blogger, Avijit Roy

Avijit Roy was a well known atheist and advocator for secularism. On his blog, Free Mind, he was very critical of Islamist hardliners. His writings upset many extremists in the religion, especially those in his home country of Bangladesh. It was in Febraury 2015, when he and his wife visited Bangaladesh for a university event. The couple were walking back from a book fair, when they were ambushed by militants. The couple was attacked and Roy was hacked to death. His wife was also injured in the attack. After killing Roy, the attackers dropped their meat cleavers and disappeared into the crowd.

While it was unclear who was responsible for his death, local police explained to the BBC that they were investigating a local hard-line religious group. The group had posted several praises of the murder online.

Roy’s father spoke out against the crime and hoped the killers would be punished to the full extent of the law.

“This Bangladesh which was built by the blood-sacrifice of the martyrs has now turned into a den of militants,” he said.

While no individual arrests have been made, Roy’s life and work live on.

bloggers killed

Photo credit: PBS

Ahmed Rajib Haider

Roy’s murder was a reminder of yet another blogger’s death, Ahmed Rajib Haider in 2013. Haider was another atheist blogger from Bangladesh.

Similar to Roy, Haider was hacked to death by college students that had been radicalized by Islamic extremists. Fortunately, the two machete-wielding attackers were able to be identified and arrested. They were both sentenced to death in December 2015, two years after Haider’s murder. Authorities explain that Haider became their target after organizing protests against Islamic leaders.

Since these two Bangladeshi bloggers deaths, five other secular bloggers have been murdered in the country. The incidents have garnered attention to the region’s censorship of their citizens and hatred of secular viewpoints.

Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Tonoy

Yet another story of a blogger’s murder in Bangladesh. This time these activists were not targeted because of their anti-Islamic protests, this time is was because of the sexual preferences. Mannan and Tonoy were both well known support for gay rights. In fact, Mannan was the editor of a popular transgender publication. The couple was attacked and killed by attackers that broke into Mannan’s apartment.

A group associated with Al-Qaeda quickly took responsibility for the killings, despite threats from the country’s prime minister that punishment would be severe. Homosexuality is still illegal in the country. However, many are still open with their decision to live the lifestyle they please and many have paid the price with their life.

In all of the cases, the victims’ families fought for justice. It is important to note that bloggers have been targeted and even killed around the world, even in the United States. While these examples all occurred in Bangladesh, it is important to note that many others instances have taken place globally. Legal experts around the world explain that if a blogger or writer ever feels threatened or if a victim’s family is looking for justice, they should immediately seek help. Also, always practice caution when writing about sensitive topics. It is possible to be passionate about a topic while protecting yourself.

The post 4 Bloggers Who Were Killed Because Of Their Content appeared first on The Blog Herald.

Top Mobile Technology Trends for Bloggers

Mobile technology has grown rapidly over the last few years. Today, 94% of the US population has a smartphone. That’s a big number, especially when you consider that only 73% of US citizens have access to a home computer. In 2017, those numbers are predicted to get even farther apart.

Bloggers who choose to invest in mobile technology, even if it’s a small investment, will see the benefits. In fact, this year is predicted to be the year that we see a significant number of bloggers, large and small, make the shift to a focus on mobile.

If you want your blog to stay on the top of your readers’ list for information, now is the time to move into mobile. Just like you create a blog with WordPress, with the help of an app maker, you can create an app for your blog without coding.

If you’ve already made the initial investment of your time and energy on your blog, then taking advantage of these trends will help you attract and keep more readers than ever.

Top Mobile Technology Trends for Bloggers

Mobile Cannot Be Ignored

mobile technology trendsSmartphones and other mobile devices offer internet access to 75% of the world population, and many of those people have no access to a home computer.  In late 2016, mobile browsers accounted for more web page views than desktops for the first time. That gap isn’t going to get smaller as the number of people choosing to surf the web from a mobile device rather than from a home PC is increasing at a rapid pace.

What does this mean for your blog? You need to make sure that your website translates well when viewed on a number of devices. Beyond just having your website size correctly you need to make sure all of the menus still display correctly so that your readers can navigate your blog for advice.

Remember, your blog helps to portray you as an industry expert.  When people come seeking your advice, they need to be able to navigate through your articles. Just because your homepage looks stellar doesn’t mean that your articles do.

Apps Will Become Must-Haves

Integrating your blog with existing apps is just as important as having your own. In fact, when readers are looking for advice or tips, they are likely to start their search in an app. If your blog isn’t listed in that app, you may have just lost the potential to increase traffic.

On the flipside, having your blog listed in as many relevant and accessible locations as possible can give you an edge.

5 Free Blogging Apps You Need On Your iPhone Right Now

Beyond listing your blog in some of your favorite apps and directories, having your own branded app is the next step to full mobile integration and key to unlocking the power of every other trend on this list.

mobile technology trends for bloggersBy the end of the year, many bloggers will have built an app or be in the process of developing one. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, your blog needs an app. Feature rich apps can be built using one the top app makers.

Tailor Your Content to Your Followers

The ability to collect large amounts of data about your readers will give your blog a traffic advantage. With an app, you can determine which blogs are most effective at enticing specific groups of followers.  If you know who is coming to read what you have to say, you can begin to tailor your writing to meet the needs of your audience.

Connecting Will be Easier Than Ever

Convenience is a major part of mobile technology’s appeal. Wherever a potential reader happens to be, they can look up whatever topic they’d like to learn about. That works in reverse, too. Location-based services (LBS) allow you to send specific blogs to readers within a particular radius or area. If you combine that with AI, you can send a great topic to any nearby reader who has your app installed.

For example, food bloggers can send out a story just before lunch time detailing the daily specials about a restaurant they just reviewed. Specialty shops can send reminders about upcoming holidays coupled with how to articles.

Mobile Security Will Be a Key Issue

You want your app to be as secure as possible. Make sure to keep your app updated and patched whenever a new vulnerability is found. The data you collect makes your marketing efforts more efficient and increases convenience for your readers. Keeping that data safe, as your readers expect you too, is a big responsibility. There are some ways to minimize the risk your readers face if you do experience a breach and keeping abreast of those methods will help safeguard your blog as well as your clients’ trust.

When a reader chooses to download and install your app over another blogger’s, you have to earn their trust. If you can’t, you’ll lose them to a swift uninstall. To build trust, you have to prove how valuable you are.

Topics Must Be Valuable

mobile appsNowadays there are enough blogs with apps and mobile-friendly websites to offer a decent selection for nearly every niche. Need to learn how to make the perfect holiday dinner? You have a few hundred blogs to choose from. Need to find a new accounting solution? A few dozen options as well.

The question is – how do you make a potential reader choose your blog and your app? You have to provide valuable information. No clickbait. The information you pass on to your readers can’t be recycled articles from your competitors’ blogs.

You need to have unique content that attracts readers.

Mobile Will Grow Your Following

If implemented correctly, having a mobile-friendly blog as well as a functioning mobile app has the potential to reduce your costs and increase your income in a number of ways.

First and foremost you should know that the services that cater to app creation and maintenance are becoming more and more affordable. Now even the smallest blogger can create and launch an app using an app-building platform without maxing out their budget.

These days an app with features like push notes, social media integration, and chat walls allow your readers to share your blogs through several different channels easily.

Now Is the Time to Invest in Mobile Marketing

Every blog could incorporate each of these trends in one way or another. These aren’t things that are going to become any less valuable as time goes on, but they are more valuable now as they have just recently become possible on a broad scale. If you have ambitious plans for your blog, this is something you can take advantage of to enhance the traffic to your site. 2017 is the year you should implement a mobile strategy.

Top Apps to Help You Market Your Blog Like a Pro

This post was written by Andrew Gazdecki, founder and CEO of Bizness Apps — making mobile apps affordable and simple for small businesses. We’re a do-it- yourself iPhone, iPad, Android & HTML5 app platform that allows any small business to simultaneously create, edit, and manage mobile apps without any programming knowledge needed. Think of us as “WordPress for mobile app creation.” Many of our customers are mobile app resellers — marketing or design agencies that use our platform to cost effectively build mobile apps for small business clients.

The post Top Mobile Technology Trends for Bloggers appeared first on The Blog Herald.

3 Keen Copywriting Tips to Create Better Content

3 Keen Copywriting Tips to Create Better Content. Makealivingwriting.com

If I had a copywriting tips guide to follow when I landed my first job, it would have saved me a lot of suffering.

Mum, dad… please look away now.

I’m afraid that my expensive university education and a degree in English didn’t prepare me to write words that sell.

When I finished school in 2001, I was lucky enough to land a copywriting job at a huge media company. And to be perfectly honest, I thought I’d find the job pretty straightforward.

But it wasn’t. Making the transition from writing academic papers to crafting commercial copy was really hard.

The truth: I used to be quite a horrible copywriter. And I don’t mind admitting it now.

I had to learn to write differently. I studied pro writers, copywriting tips, and the best ad copy. I tested and evaluated copywriting strategies to see what worked and what didn’t. I learned how to write words that sell.

Now, I’m keen on helping others make a living writing. These three copywriting tips will help you create better content:

Copywriting tips to craft words that sell

How did I go from writing about Shakespeare, the Victorian era, and Medieval literature to writing copy for well-known UK brands like Sky, Three, and Vodafone? I had plenty of bang-my-head-against-the-wall days trying to figure it out.

Fortunately, copywriting is a skill you can learn. And you don’t have to do it the hard way, like I did. These copywriting tips will help you:

Copywriting Tip #1: Use conversational language

Once upon a time, I read Stephen King’s book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

Now, if it’s writing advice you’re after, then this book is worth its weight in gold. Who better to turn to, than the king of the page-turners?

I’ve always remembered King’s advice on vocabulary.

Many experts tell aspiring writers to “stick to what you know.” But King takes this a step further. He stresses the need to use the actual words we’d normally express in our everyday lives.

In other words, write what you know in the way that you speak. Or to say this another way, use a conversational style to write copy. Take a look at the best marketing campaigns today, and you’ll see lots of punchy, but conversational, language used to build brand awareness and generate sales.

Sometimes it makes sense to break the rules

I found King’s advice refreshing and comforting. Forced, stilted copywriting doesn’t work. But that’s what happened when I tried to apply all the formal rules of academic writing at my new job. This type of conformity doesn’t suit copywriting in the business world. Quite simply, conformity doesn’t always deliver results.

Essentially, the most powerful words aren’t the ones that get readers to reach for a dictionary. They’re the ones that are persuasive, impactful and influential. That’s copywriting. And impressionable, expressive copy only comes through having the freedom to be yourself, take some chances, and be willing to make mistakes.

Copywriting Tip #2: Make a good first impression

Perhaps the earliest lesson I learned about copywriting in the business world is how the appearance of words plays a huge part in how effective they are.

Consider typography, for instance. Fonts are essentially clothes for your words. If you were heading out for an important meeting or a hot date, you’d consider what you were wearing.

After all, first impressions are important.

The same goes for your words, no matter what they need to achieve. You can review and improve your copywriting by asking yourself a few simple questions:

  • Does your work look text-heavy and intimidating?
  • Or do you space out your sentences and allow for a fast, pleasurable read?
  • What about the size of your fonts?
  • Are your words even legible?

Words are important, naturally. But it would be a shame to create a piece of perfect writing, only to make things difficult for the reader.

Obviously, once you hand off a copywriting project to a designer, you’re not going to have a lot of control over what happens. All the more reason you need to make a good first impression when you write copy for a client.

The trouble with information overload

It’s practically an epidemic. Serve up just about any piece of content these days, and people will be looking for a reason to bail out and do something else. You know your words have to work hard. Give them the chance to succeed and use copywriting strategies like shorter sentences, headings and subheads, bullet points, and questions to stimulate thought and engagement.

Copywriting Tip #3: Embrace and understand human psychology

The most successful businesses use copywriting to manipulate us in one way or another.

From well-positioned sweets at the grocery store check-out to the timely coupon in the mail, we may not even notice what they’re doing half the time.

While we’re all different, the human brain is actually pretty predictable. This really highlights the importance of copywriting.

A choice of words, the odd piece of slang, a timely comma… effective copywriting lies in the smallest of details.

Know your target audience

So no matter what objective your words are trying to achieve, understand your target audience. Get to know what makes them tick. What do they like? What sort of language do they use? Take the time to really understand your client and their audience, and your copywriting can make a big impact.

Master these copywriting tips, and you’ll scoop up more client work. The world of copywriting has changed quite a bit since the days of direct response, long-form sales letters. There’s a greater demand than ever before.

Need help improving your copywriting skills? Let’s discuss in the comments.

Matt Press has been a copywriter for major UK brands including Sky, Three, and Vodafone. He’s on a mission to help small businesses with their marketing strategies.

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The post 3 Keen Copywriting Tips to Create Better Content appeared first on Make A Living Writing.

The One Type Of Blog Post The Will Transform Your Blog Immediately

The One Type Of Blog Post The Will Transform Your Blog Immediately

This is a guest contribution from Joe Elliott.

How hard can it be when you start a new blog, you create crazy amounts of content and then you need to start generating traffic?

You bust your butt off to get 20 posts so that you can say you are good to go.

You reach out to influencers only to meet their trashcan. You even submit a ton of pitches for a guest post… again only to get an instant delete!

It sucks!

The truth is this is the old school way of doing this blogging game. Content is still king but your job nowadays is to create content that can generate traffic easily on its own.

Today I am going to share with you the exact strategy I use to create a traffic generating expert roundup post. I will show you the best outreach tips I have to ensure your contributors say yes.

Once this post is live and doing its job you have the social proof I mentioned before and you will get your first few visitors with ease!

Are you ready?

Find A Proven Content Idea That Will Drive Your Audience Wild!

Every topic in your niche that your audience would be interested in has been covered. Having said that, you can still create a better resource that has your very own unique take on the topic.

When you first start a blog you want to create content that has been a success on other blogs. If it has done well before then there is no reason why it can’t take off again.

That is if you do the topic justice!

An expert roundup post that is based on a killer topic will blow your readers mind easily. This post type is stuffed with legendary tips, it’s bursting with value.

So how can you find these topics that have proven their worth?

The One Type Of Blog Post The Will Transform Your Blog Immediately

First head over to Google and search for a broad topic in your niche. This will show you the content that has managed to make the first page of Google. It’s the best content on Google.

The One Type Of Blog Post The Will Transform Your Blog Immediately

Now take each post on the front page of the search results and enter them into Buzzsumo. This will show you the most shared content from this website.

As you go through each you should see similar topics on multiple blogs. When you see the same topic a few times you are onto a good thing.

That’s your PROVEN topic!

Now all that’s left to do is to turn this into a question.

Head over to Quora and type in your hot topic, now pick a question that your audience is looking for and that get’s some traction (how many upvotes does it have). This rocks because the influencers will want to be featured because it’s a popular topic and your audience are happy because it’s a popular question.

Create A List Of Influencers That Are Desperate To Share Your Expert Roundup Post

Now you have that killer question it is time to create a spreadsheet to input all your influencer buddies into.

The spreadsheet should have a column for their name, blog name, their URL, email and social media accounts. I also add a column for me to write accepted or leave blank. It pays to be organized!

I always start by entering the details for people I know first because you have a track record with them they will be more likely to get involved. Just make sure that they are relevant to the topic. Nobody wants to know what Sports player thinks about SEO, really.

Big celebrity bloggers, these are the ones that every marketer knows, like Darren Rowse, Neil Patel, Amy Porterfield, Pat Flynn etc…

They will be the hardest people to get a hold of because of the sheer amount of email they get daily. Some even have a VA which makes it even harder to get to their inboxes. The best way to get straight to these people is to find someone who knows them and ask them for a connection.

If they fit the bill for your roundup then you should start trying to get on their radar about 6 months out.

The One Type Of Blog Post The Will Transform Your Blog Immediately

Big Audience Bloggers are the bloggers who could still transform your blog because of their big audience. They may still not be at Neil Patel level but they have some decent influence.

You now have a better chance of getting your email read but if you have not taken the time to get on their radar they won’t reply. If you form a relationship with these people most will help you with your expert roundup post.

Credibility Building Bloggers, these are the bloggers that know their stuff but are still building their audience. They have some influence and have connections with the big dogs! You will find these bloggers by looking at other roundups. If they have featured one of the big guys you should definitely consider them because that shows there is a connection there!

The little guys, we all gotta start somewhere. These dudes will promote your post like mad because they want to show that they have been featured amongst the big dogs.

Always consider these dudes –  if they make it before you, well it’s another connection!

So get started by filling out your spreadsheet with all the bloggers you want to feature in your post.

I would always aim for at least a hundred. Not all will get back but it should get you at least 20 if you crack the next bit…

Nail Your Outreach For An Awesome Roundup Post

Now that you have got a big list of bloggers to reach out to it is time to craft a killer outreach email to get their answer. Check out this article by Jason Quey where he shares his best strategy to get in touch with any kind of influencer.

Most newbies screw this bit up because they feel the need to make their email request all about them or they do not get on the radar well enough!

Hard fact, nobody is going to help you if your number one topic is yourself. If you met someone on the street for the first time and asked for $10, what would their response be?

If you do a good deed for someone, however, you are more than likely to get more in return. Work on forming a relationship!

Start by reaching out to the big dogs these bloggers will take a bit more time to get them on your side. The best way to get on their radar is to start commenting on their blogs, or reaching out to them on social media…

This is how I got in contact with Jaime Masters at the Eventual Millionaire. I followed up by sending her a personal email thanking her for all her hard work and started connecting from there!

The One Type Of Blog Post The Will Transform Your Blog Immediately

The first tip for a successful outreach email is to put the name of the influencer in the subject. You would be surprised how many people use templates and don’t address the influencers by their name at any point in their outreach.

Epic Fail!

This is just rude! When people see their name in the subject they will be more drawn to the email.

Your number on way to get an expert to contribute is to keep the question super easy…

What is your number one tip for new bloggers to start getting traffic?

This is good because it tells the expert who the audience is and the topic getting traffic. It is an easy to answer the question. One tip is plenty because won’t have to write an essay!

Bad Example…

What are the strategies you use to build a blog, list and make money?

This could be a book and you have not stated who the target audience for the post is!

Now the other reason I told you to get the big bloggers first is so that you can drop some social proof into the email. This will help your outreach efforts immensely.

I have got Darren Rowse, Neil Patel, and Yaro Starak’s answers, can I add yours to my list?

When other bloggers see these names they will see that you are working hard to make it a success. This is perfect and will help your efforts to get others involved.

Go The Extra Mile And Let Your Experts Shine

You should be chuffed with your progress, now it is time to put it all together. No matter what keyword you are targeting this post is for the experts to showcase their skills and experience. You have to let them shine.

Create a killer headline that encourages people to click through to your post. I do three things to make sure my headline stands out.

  1. Have the main keyword to tell Google and your readers what the post is about,
  2. Share the benefit the reader can expect from reading the post,
  3. Add some power words that make it impossible to say no. Sarah Peterson has done an awesome job compiling a list of power words on SumoMe.

Lastly, I will ask people what they think. You could ask the experts or create a survey in Facebook groups. Your goal is to make sure it kicks butts but you’re not on your own unless you choose to be.

Now to create an intro that captures and hooks your readers in, if you can get them here surely you can keep them through the post. My intros tend to follow a structure but the main thing is to tell the reader what they can expect from your post…

  1. Introduce the problem that the post will cover,
  2. Tell them that your post is going to solve this very problem,
  3. Introduce the experts and away we go…

List your experts with their Name, website, short bio and their answer. Now again we want to let them shine so do not be afraid to head over to their website and grab screenshot examples, you can even create your own examples so you have unique pictures.

You could have a link to their most popular post (you can find this using Buzzsumo). Go the extra mile and your experts will see that you care and that it’s not just about you!

Lastly end the post by thanking all your experts for their time. Give a quick summary and ask your readers the question.

This will keep the communication going in the comments, more engagement for your blog!

Don’t Be Lazy: Promote Your Post Too

I see a lot of people using these posts to get some exposure for themselves but they leave it all up to the experts. Yes you will get a lot of free promotion, but you have also got a lot of free content, you should thank the experts by getting them maximum exposure.

The first thing that is so simple to implement is Click to Tweet buttons. These make it easy for your readers to share the content. You can download this free plugin for WordPress which makes the job a breeze.

If you want though you can head to ClickToTweet.com and set up a basic link, this gives you a link to add to your roundup where it makes sense.

The One Type Of Blog Post The Will Transform Your Blog Immediately

The next thing to do is to create some social media graphics using Canva or any tool of your choice. Showcase one or two experts in these images. Now schedule tweets, Facebook posts, Google+ posts and even Pinterest Pins with these pictures and tag your experts in them.

The next thing I do is schedule an email out to my list, doing the social media stuff first helps to create some shares and sometimes even comments. This is social proof for your own subscribers to see when they get there.

Now there should be a bit of traction, so I will reach out to the experts and let them know it’s live. Make it easy for them to share by including a click to tweet link in the email. You still don’t need to ask them for anything.

Let them decide, most will share anyway because they are featured in the post.

Now before I go I want you to go to your favorite industry publication and find the editor and the most common contributors. Start connecting with these people and make sure the link to your site is easy to find.

If you are using Wisestamp the journalists will see your link in your signature if you email them. If on Twitter they will see your link on your profile. Just be helpful don’t ask them for anything, just mingle. If you play your cards right you could get some major exposure from them!

It’s Over To You

This kind of post can be the most powerful, if you’re not lazy and deliver value to your experts as well as your readers. If you are struggling to get traction or you have a new blog then this type of post is perfect for you.

It might seem like a lot of work but really if you’re not spending time, how can you expect results. Noah Kagen said this in a webinar of his I attended…

The One Type Of Blog Post The Will Transform Your Blog Immediately

This is so true and I think it is something you should keep in mind, not just for roundups but for any post you create!

Have you created an expert roundup post? What were your results like? Let me know in the comments!

Joe Elliott is the founder of One Man Wiki, his blog that shares tips to help you kickstart your blog. If you are a new or struggling blogger his tips will show you how to get traction in no time at all. Take his exclusive free course that will show you how to leverage the power of influencers so you can skyrocket your traffic and subscribers.

The post The One Type Of Blog Post The Will Transform Your Blog Immediately appeared first on ProBlogger.


How to Earn Extra Money Freelancing While Starting a Blog

How to Earn Extra Money Freelancing While Starting a Blog | ProBlogger

This is a guest contribution from Kevin Balcker.

You should already know that earning money with a blog does not happen overnight. It takes time, consistent publishing of great content, and unique smart ideas to make a blog take off. Depending on the niche you want to get in, ranking in search engines might be tough, and often requires strong SEO skills.

But what happens if you need money for your daily expenses? Or what if you need money to pay the hosting fees and tools required to run a blog? This is where most people turn to freelancing to help pay the bills.

Freelancing is an excellent way of earning some bucks while you build a blog at the same time. With the money earned, you can then speed up the process of content creation, link building, hiring a pro designer, or whatever you think would be a wise investment of your hard-earned dollars.

I was one of those people who turned to freelancing while I built my blog, and this is how I earned my first $600o

I started my first blog back in 2015. I had no money and no knowledge of how to start a blog, but I had two very important things: Patience and determination. I knew, just from the beginning, that starting a blog was going to be a long journey and that I needed some money to pay tools and hosting fees, so I decided to offer services on Fiverr.com and Upwork (formerly Odesk).

I started as a writer. At that time I had a lot of work, writing for other blogs and for mine but it was very helpful because I learned how to write for search engines (on-page SEO) and a ton about keyword research.

In the first two months, I earned +$600, and that was the jump start of my business. I invested literally ALL the money I earned into my website. I paid premium keyword tools, WordPress plugins, themes, hired writers, etc. That investment produced higher rankings for my website, UX increased significantly, and most important, revenue also increased allowing me to earn money in “almost-passive mode”.

So, you get the point – even if you don’t have two cents to rub together, you can figure out how to earn extra money and then invest it in your own business. That’s my suggestion if you are starting with a low budget.

There are many other ways to get quick cash, but I found freelancing the easiest one and the most legit.

5 Important tips for Starting with Freelancing

It might be a great way to earn extra on the side to fund your blogging passion – but it doesn’t come without a little work on your part.

1. Self-discipline

The most important factor in my opinion. Becoming a freelancer means you are going to need a tremendous amount of self-discipline because you’re going to be logging your own hours.

If you’re someone who doesn’t have a lot of self-discipline, does not pay attention to details and can’t keep a consistent schedule, it’s going to be really hard on you and going to be even harder for your clients.

This is where I tell you to reconsider your position, especially if you don’t meet those qualifications. Someone who is easily distracted could make freelancing a very challenging career. Even if freelancing is something that you will do just for a few months, you need to take it seriously. Remember that your name is your personal brand, and people will remember you in the future.

2. Investment on tools of the trade

Freelancing also requires a significant investment on your part regarding resources. Being able to buy the tools of the trade, being able to replace them at the drop of the hat, all of these things are super important, so you have to be in a position to where financially this makes sense.

Having the best tools will give you a competitive advantage upon other freelancers.

But consider this: just buying these tools, will not be sufficient. You will have to learn how to use them and if you develop a personal strategy with them, there will be a high probability that your success will come true.

Some tools I recommend:

Here at ProBlogger there are some useful guides that will help you out to learn about SEO and writing:

3. Personality

If you’re someone who is very introverted, it’s not that you can’t do it, but the challenge for you will be new client acquisition.

If you’re introverted but you are a master of SEO or social media, then this could be less difficult for you regarding client acquisition. Or if you are willing to outsource or partner with someone who is very sales and marketing oriented, that could be a great proposition for you. You will have to leave money on the table, but having 70% of somethings is better than 100% of nothing.

If this person can get you deals and close at a higher rate than you could, it is probably for the best. If not, you might have to reconsider doing this full-time because the reality is that the marketplace is very saturated and very noisy. It is going to be tough for someone who can’t come outside himself to be competitive there.

4. Work quality. Are you delivering any extra?

Quality work matters, but it’s not going to speak for itself, it’s not going to sell itself, and if you can’t get in front of it, you need someone who can. Otherwise, you are going to lose to your loudest competitor. Remember this: Showing up matters.

People are not hunting you down for this work so you can’t be naïve and you can’t be romantic about it.

As I said, there are lots of freelancers out there providing excellent services. For example, I have hired my own writers and designers from Upwork and Fiverr with outstanding results.

Just take a look at what other freelancers are selling, and see if you can add any extra to that service.

Always be honest with your clients, set expectations and deliver what you offer. It’s very hard to gain the trust of your clients and very easy to lose it all of a sudden.

5. Salespersonship

Salespersonship matters, oh my god it really does. Your talent is not the variable of your success there, it’s that actually salespersonship matters because the marketplace decides and showing up is how you get things done.

It doesn’t matter if you are the nicest person in the room. If you don’t go out to the dance floor and ask a girl to dance, being the nicest guy in the room isn’t going to do a lot for you.

Getting money really matters as a freelancer and so instead of waxing poetic about how good you are, it’s about how good you are at selling.

If It doesn’t make you any money, it doesn’t make sense.

I will encourage you to figure out if you are the best person to sell your brand and to get new clients (you can start with browsing the ProBlogger Jobs board), whether you need a partner with somebody, or whether you need to use an agency of some kind.

There are ones like Aquent and Vitamin Talent, that help freelancers find clients or even find full-paid positions if they want that, or even remote telecommuting project based jobs. All these things are an avenue to overcome that particular obstacle or weakness. Then, you can get better at selling if it’s in your personality, but if it’s not, I would say just outsource that weakness.

If freelancing is right for you, it can be very lucrative. It can be very practical, and it could be the beginning of financial freedom.

If you have a question about freelancing or working with difficult clients, leave that in the comment section. I would love to hear your doubts and help you out.

Kevin Balcker is a digital marketer, entrepreneur and owner of Residual Income Secrets. He writes about starting, growing and managing a blog, SEO, social media and ways of generating passive income. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Google +

The post How to Earn Extra Money Freelancing While Starting a Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.


Grab Your Earlybird Tickets to ProBlogger Evolve Conference and Mastermind Today

Today tickets go on sale for ProBlogger Evolve – two events in Australia for bloggers.

Yes you read that correctly – after 7 previous years of one event per year – we’re trying something new by running two events in two cities over two weekends.

We’re calling it ProBlogger Evolve because we think the way blogs are monetised really does need to evolve. The time we spend together will really focus in on some of the emerging models people are using to monetise blogs.

Here’s what you need to know about ProBlogger Evolve

Firstly where and when:

Brisbane – at Brisbane Rydges Southbank Hotel on 29-30 July

Melbourne – at Melbourne Rydges CBD Hotel on 5-6 August

Secondly – our new format of conference and masterminds

This year we’re trying a new format.

Day 1 Conference – in both cities the first day will be a single day conference to examine monetisation strategies through the lens of 4 key pillars of blogging – those of Content, Engagement, Traffic and Conversion. These days will be everyone in a single track for a full day.

Day 2 Mastermind – the second day is mastermind day and will be more intimate (we’re limiting it to 32 attendees) and a chance to dive deep into the business model(s) best suited to you and to spend time brainstorming, planning, asking questions about your blog and business.

Day 1 will be pitched at a level that is accessible for everyone but day 2 will be at a higher level for those who want to not only learn some of the great topics we’ll cover on day 1 but who want to talk through how to apply it to their business.

So there will be two ticket types:

  • Conference only ticket (just day 1)
  • Conference + Mastermind (both days)

Thirdly – let’s talk about our exciting international keynote presenter…

Last week in San Diego I did a little Facebook live to announce to our Facebook community who is keynoting the event this year.

So this year Pat Flynn is returning to our event for the second time. Pat came out in 2014 an has been one of our most highly rated speakers ever.

Pat will be our closing keynote at the Day 1 Conference in both cities (as well as involved on that day with Q&A) but will be heavily involved in the mastermind days too – so those taking that opportunity will all have an opportunity to sit around a table with him in a small group to ask questions, brainstorm on your blog together and learn from his years of experience.

Earlybird Tickets Available Now for a Limited Time

We’re still putting the rest of our lineup for this year’s events together but wanted to let you know what we’re planning and also today are making Earlybird Tickets available.

These earlybird tickets give you $100 off both ticket types. This will be available for two days only (10pm AEDT on 30 March).

The Earlybird Ticket Prices are:

  • Conference only ticket – $299 (AUD)
  • Conference + Mastermind – $1199 (AUD)

There are limited numbers of tickets available in both cities and extremely limited numbers of tickets (and a high interest from what we can tell) in the mastermind tickets – so to avoid disappointment we suggest securing your tickets as soon as possible.

Get full details of what’s included in tickets and what we’re planning in terms of the agenda on our events page which is where you can also now pick up your tickets.

PS: For those of you in the US – we have an event for you too!

If you’re in the USA an want to get to a ProBlogger event you’re in luck.

This year I’m cohosting an event called the Success Incubator in Dallas Texas on 24-25 October and you can also pick up an Earlybird ticket to that event until 31 March.

The post Grab Your Earlybird Tickets to ProBlogger Evolve Conference and Mastermind Today appeared first on ProBlogger.


How SEO Can Help Your Blog Rank Well

How SEO Can Help Your Blog Rank Well

In the final part of our three-part series on the WhatWhy and How of SEO and how it can be used to improve your blog’s rankings, we’ll be exploring how SEO can help your blog rank well.

Ranking well in the major search engines means added visibility for your blog. Visibility should eventually turn into conversions, so you are making money by learning SEO. The rules change often. The major search engines, led by Google, generate somewhere in the neighbourhood of 90% of all web traffic on the Internet. New viewers are much more likely to find your blog through Google than through any other medium, including friendly word of mouth. Obviously, ranking well is of vital importance!

Learning the nuances of how SEO helps the search engines rank pages can be incredibly helpful for SEO noobs. Once you learn the basic rules of why other blogs are winning, you can modify your strategies to win as well! Here are the ways that SEO can help your blog rank well.

Natural Organisation / The Macro theme

The major search engines are always looking to provide the most relevant results to its audience. To this end, Google created an unofficial ‘trust’ system, that takes into account a site’s trust, authority and expertise. The purpose is to give greater visibility and rankings to sites that are widely acknowledged as leaders or authorities in their chosen fields. While it has to be said that no one can say with certainty the metrics used to determine ‘authority’ it is thought to be based on aspects such as your social presence and quality of links that your site receives. It is Google’s way of recommending a site, or piece of content, that it determines would best answer a search query.

Part of SEO is learning how to organise your blog around relevant keywords so that the search engines associate your entire blog with an overall theme. Blogs that skip around from dog food to beach living to auto parts will find it difficult to rank for any of those subjects.

In Australia we have a saying: “jack of all trades, master of none.” The same applies to your blog. The blog that picks one subject and talks about every nuance of it will gain more visibility by becoming an authority on the subject. Creating a theme (the macro theme) is your first discipline when learning SEO.

Relevant Keywords in Individual Blogs

Within a macro theme, the search engines are looking to drill down even more. In order to provide even better results for their audiences, the search engines will place special relevance on blogs that answer a specific query. What are people asking about? Local topics and specific questions. As you write your blogs, you should look to answer specific questions in each of your pieces. This is what people are looking for, and if the search engines match your topic to a popular question, you will gain a great deal of visibility and may even achieve a Featured Answer position.

You signal the topic of your blogs to the search engines through keywords. Keywords are words that are the focus of your blog. For instance, if you are blogging about cat food, you are likely to use the terms “chicken” or “flavouring” more than “ignition” or “light fixture.”

Google has been around long enough to have accumulated masses of data regarding search terms and the predictive nature of searchers. Their algorithms can accurately predict relevant keywords associated with previous searches, making it easier for searchers to find relevant content that answers their query. It is imperative that you include accurate keywords relevant to your content, as the search engines will be looking for those keywords and phrases when determining the relevancy of your blog. Matching your keywords to the search engine’s assumptions of what your blog should contain is great SEO technique and boosts the visibility of your blog post.

How SEO Can Help Your Blog Rank Well | Featured Answer vs Number One Organic

Bringing Relevant Traffic to Your Blog

While the search engines are checking for keywords and other technical aspects of your writing, you should also check what real human traffic is doing. Search engines have the ability to track how long a visitor stays on your page with a metric known as the bounce rate. A high bounce rate means a visitor has left the page quickly, while a low bounce rate means the opposite. While the question of whether the bounce rate affects your rankings has long been dispelled (it doesn’t!), you can still use it to your advantage.

Bounce rate is not an accurate metric in the first instance, as many sites don’t utilise Google Analytics, leaving Google unable to track bounce rate information across the board. In other instances, a high bounce rate may be good for one page and bad for another. For example, if a contact page has a high bounce rate, then it may simply be that it is fulfilling its purpose; visitors complete the contact form before leaving.

What you can use bounce rate for is to monitor the quality of your site. Bounce rate can be an indicator of quality, but not as a weighting factor. A high bounce rate doesn’t equate to low rankings, but you can monitor pages on your site for a high bounce rate. That high rate may be due to low quality pages that you can improve to lower the bounce rate and improve your overall ranking.

Search engine optimisation is a complex discipline that people have written entire books about. There are entire blogs dedicated to the subject and the nuances of the process are only becoming more complicated as time goes on. However, the basics of SEO will never change.

Your main job is this: Create content that people want to see, and market it to them honestly! Do this, and SEO will work in your favour to make your blog rank well!

Jim Stewart, CEO of StewArt Media, is a recognised digital marketing expert. Jim is ProBlogger’s SEO expert and will share his vast SEO knowledge to equip you with the systems and skills to optimise and monetise your blog using tried and tested techniques. What Jim doesn’t know about SEO and blogging isn’t worth knowing.

The post How SEO Can Help Your Blog Rank Well appeared first on ProBlogger.


The Vital Common Sense Marketing Strategy You May Have Forgotten

Perhaps one of the biggest buzzphrases in the world of content marketing seems to be, “SEO content writing.” Of course, it’s important to make sure search engines can index your website, but your content needs to appeal to people as well.

According to Neil Patel, this is one of the biggest challenges content marketers face. But it’s vital to master if you’re going to be successful.

Write for human visitors first, search robots second

Everyone says that you should write for your human visitors first, but what does that actually mean? What does that actually look like?

Even some of the most well intentioned websites still publish content directed at search engines, making it more difficult for humans to extract value from those pages. Maybe that’s because nobody’s made the distinction clear between what constitutes content written for visitors and content written for search engines.

The difference between content for visitors and SEO content

First, to identify content written for visitors, let’s take a look at the “What We Do” page from 1800gotjunk.com as an example. They have two simple paragraphs that describe exactly what they do in a way that answers a lot of potential questions people may have. By mentioning common items people often need to get rid of (like tires, furniture, appliances, and electronics), the visitor becomes immediately clear about what they’ll haul away.

Writing for visitors means answering their concerns

In the second paragraph, they say they can “take away almost any material we can fit in our trucks, without you ever lifting a finger,” and “we’ll remove junk from wherever it’s located, and we won’t leave a debt or speck of dirt behind.” Pay close attention to these sentences. What they’re doing here is mitigating potential concerns that could make people hesitant about using their services.

It’s very possible that people might be worried about having to help move the heavy items, and having to clean up after the company isdone. These are valid concerns, completely mitigated with a couple of sentences.

What these two paragraphs do is directly communicate intentional messages to the visitor. And in the end, that’s what’s going to drive sales.

Example of a page not written for visitors

In contrast, take a look at the “Why Us” section on this other junk hauling website. You’ll see phrases like, “The College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving team is 100% committed to customer satisfaction and offers the most professional level of service in the industry.” And “tens of thousands of homeowners, real estate agents, and other service professionals rely on our junk removal service…”

The entire page is filled with copy that doesn’t speak to visitors but reads more like a testimonial to their success as a company.

1800gotjunk.com covered everything they needed to share with their visitors, mitigating potential concerns in just two paragraphs. On the other hand, CollegeHunksHaulingJunk.com used an entire webpage to say the same thing in multiple ways. And when you look at the headings on the page, it’s clear the page was written for SEO first. The problem is that the customer – someone who needs junk hauled away – just wants to know how the business can help them without having to read a novel.

Other examples of writing for visitors first

Under the “About Us” section for USStorageCenters.com, you’ll find information highly relevant to people looking for a secure place to store their belongings. The page provides an overview of what the building offers in terms of an elevator, loading dock, carts, wide corridors, high ceilings, and an air cooling system. And under the “Size Guide” tab, they let the visitor know what items each size unit can accommodate in a single sentence.

What you won’t find are a bunch of keywords and phrases stuffed into bullet points that are only useful to search engines.

Don’t focus too much on keywords – focus on context

Years ago, the search engines used completely different algorithms to rank websites and return results to users. These algorithms consisted of factoring in backlinks, meta tags, titles, anchor text, and keywords.

Today, and especially with Google, search results are personalized based on websites you’ve visited, and also what your friends have liked, shared, and visited across the web. And webpages are ranked according to social authority – how many times they’ve been shared across various platforms.

Keywords used to be the biggest factor that could rank a website higher when used properly, but today search results are returned differently. Webpages with content relative to what is searched for are provided rather than the exact phrase that was searched for.

Write copy to serve your visitors

If you want to increase your ranking in the search engines, you have to remember that “ranking” is no longer universal for all visitors. Everyone will see a different set of personalized results. And when you can identify the difference between content written for visitors and content written for search engines, you can optimize your own copy to better serve your visitors.

The post The Vital Common Sense Marketing Strategy You May Have Forgotten appeared first on The Blog Herald.

Proposal Writing: How an Unexpected Freelance Gig Paid $12,000

The lucrative land of proposal writing. Makealivingwriting.com

When I got a random phone call from a prospect about a proposal writing gig, I was curious.

“I need help writing an RFP [request for proposal] for a multi-year, multi-million dollar cyber security contract for a government agency,” the person said. “The deadline is in 30 days. Can you help me?”

You can make a lot of money doing this kind of work, right? That’s what I thought. But I had my doubts.

Months before this unexpected phone call, I did a lot of leg work to try and land proposal writing gigs and government contract work. And nothing happened.

I navigated clunky government websites and studied the jargon. I registered my writing business on sites like the System for Award Management and FedBizOpps where you can find contracts. I tried to land big contracts, then smaller ones without success.

It seemed like a lost cause. And then this prospect found me on one of those government sites for contractors.

I bid $12,000 for the work, and the client accepted. Here’s what the proposal writing process looked like:

Proposal writing basics

When a business or government agency needs goods or services, they often send out an RFP [request for proposal] to an approved list of vendors (writing is a service, you can be a vendor.) It’s why I spent so much time getting listed on those government contracting sites.

What is an RFP? It’s a document that describes in great detail what an organization needs and wants to purchase. For example: a website redesign, a remodel project, chairs and desks, computers, or in this case cybersecurity services. These are some common RFP requests.

Why an RFP? The primary reason businesses and government agencies use RFPs is to collect competitive bids for goods or services.

What’s in an RFP? A lot of writing. Besides quoting a price, RFPs also have to make a compelling case to help the contractor win the project and may require information such as:

  • Corporate history and information
  • Financial reports
  • Technical capabilities
  • Inventory availability
  • Case studies of similar projects
  • Customer service/support
  • Education, background, and experience of employees
  • Ability to meet project deadline
  • Warranty information

Fee factors for proposal writing

There wasn’t any time to waste when my prospect called. I was thrilled to learn the company had already won millions of dollars in contracts, and that my forgotten government profiles are still floating around out there, and still categorize me as a writer. I quoted $12,000 and the client accepted. There was no negotiation process.

Why such a high fee? It was a lot of work to complete this RFP and meet the deadline (4,000-plus words for eight pieces of the proposal, writing and editing a lot of technical content, and of course the drop-everything short time frame) The factors I considered were:

  • Level of effort: Took two writers, one editor to get the job done
  • Knowledge required: Government proposals for the cybersecurity industry
  • Time frame: Had to rearrange my schedule to accommodate the job on short notice. We had a couple of rounds of edits to tighten up the drafts. Some of the revisions were required in less than 24 hours, and the price reflected that deadlines were non-negotiable.

Steps to success

I knew that this job might segue to a great relationship with a new client that might offer future corporate writing opportunities at great rates. I had one shot, on a tight schedule, to provide outstanding service. Here’s what made the job a success:

The help this client needed was right in line with my past experience.

I maintain a wide network of writers and often collaborate, and so should you. Bigger opportunities depend on it. I reached out to a writer I met a couple of years ago in the Freelance Writers Den. I also enlisted my longtime editor, who has a strong government background.

The three of us completed eight pieces of work for the RFP that the client was very happy with. And of course we met the deadline.

The price I quoted reflected the expected effort and our expertise, but also the rather intense schedule shuffling we’d have to do to accommodate a very short timeline with virtually no advance notice.

If you want to land proposal writing gigs…

Get your name out there. Sign up on your neighborhood small business directory. Join professional organizations. Sign up on sam.gov and fbo.gov. Beef up your online professional presence on your website, LinkedIn, etc., to be more visible and generate inbound leads.

Get it done. When opportunity presents itself, be 110 percent reliable. Answer the phone. Return emails. Pay attention. Read the materials your client sends to you. Put the effort in to do a great job.

Be fair. Don’t shortchange yourself. If a potential client asks you to do a rush job, let your price reflect that. At the same time, don’t take advantage. Remember, the end goal is to land a great client that you can work with for a long time.

When this proposal writing assignment was complete, the client immediately asked if we were available to help on the next one. That is all the assurance I need to know that the job went well.

Have questions about proposal writing? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

Kimberly Rotter is a freelance writer, blogger, and editor based in San Diego, Calif., who doesn’t watch TV. She also runs the website An Army of Writers.

Get a free e-book (100+ Freelance Writing Questions Answered by Carol Tice) and free updates! Sign me up!


The post Proposal Writing: How an Unexpected Freelance Gig Paid $12,000 appeared first on Make A Living Writing.

186: A Step-By-Step Guide to How I Write a Blog Post

How I Write a Blog Post – My Step-By-Step Process

Today, I want to walk you through my step by step process for writing a blog post!

I get asked about this regularly over in the ProBlogger podcast listeners Facebook group today put together some notes on the workflow I use and want to run  you through it.

Before I do – and speaking of the Facebook group – I wanted to let you know that I’ve shared some exciting news with members of that group  in the last week – particularly about an event that ProBlogger is involved in running later this year in the US.

We’ve not fully launched the event yet publically but if you’re curious about coming to an event that ProBlogger is collaborating on – head to the Facebook group and check it out.

But enough of that! – let’s get into today episode.

Further Resources on A Step-By-Step Guide to How I Write a Blog Post

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Good day, it’s Darren from ProBlogger. Welcome to Episode 186 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board and series of ebooks all designed to help you as a blogger to start a blog, to grow that blog’s audience, to create some really useful content for that audience and to make some money from your blog.

Today, I want to walk you through my step by step process for writing a blog post. I get asked quite regularly over in the ProBlogger podcast listeners group on Facebook about my writing process. Whilst I’ve talked about different aspects of my process, various episodes of this podcast, I’ve never really gone from start to finish. Today, I want to walk you through it.

Before I do, I just did give you a little hint, that we’ve got some events coming up with ProBlogger. This year, we are planning to do an Australian event. In fact, there may be more than one, we’ll let you know a little bit more about that in the coming weeks. But we also, this year, want to do something in the US because we do have so many of our readers of ProBlogger, listeners of this podcast in the US.and speaking of the Facebook group – I wanted to let you know that I’ve shared some exciting news with members of that group  in the last week – particularly about an event that ProBlogger is involved in running later this year in the US. This year, we are planning an event in the US.

Whilst we’re not quite ready to launch details of that quite yet, I’m working with some partners on this particular event, we have let some details slip out in the Facebook group. We wanted to do a bit of a soft launch. If you’re curious about coming to an event in the US, go join the ProBlogger Podcast Listeners Facebook Group. Do a search on Facebook for ProBlogger Podcast Listeners and you will find the group. Join and you will find some details in there. By the time this episodes comes out, you may even be able to pick up an early bird ticket to that event. If you’re curious about coming to an event in the US, check out the Facebook group. If you’re in Australia or willing to come to Australia later in the year, stay tuned, we’ll let you know a little bit more about that.

But enough of all that, enough of me teasing you about events. I know I’ve been known for doing that. I want to get into today’s episode. Let’s get into talking about my writing process.

Ben over in the Facebook group today asked me this morning if I could talk a little about how I go about writing blog posts. He particularly wanted to know how I outline my posts and then how I go about ordering the writing process; when do I write headlines, introductions, and that type of thing.

I started to write back a rather long post to Ben describing what I go through. As I was writing it, I realized I’ve never really fully run through that whole process on this podcast. That’s what I want to do today. I hope it will be helpful for you. I have touched on some of the different things that I’m going to talk about in previous episodes, so I’m not going to rehash all of that today. I’ll refer you back to some of those episodes as we go along.

Let’s get into it. The first thing that I do is pretty logical, really. It’s to pick a topic. Pick something that I want the post to be about. I should say this process really does apply to creating videos on YouTube or a podcast even. I went through almost this exact process in preparing this podcast. I actually use a very similar process when I’m creating a talk as well, a presentation, a keynote presentation.

This, for me, given the type of blogs that I have is almost always about either identifying a question that one of my readers is asking that I can answer, or identifying a problem that one of my readers has that they’re trying to overcome, or identifying a task that someone is trying to complete, or identifying a goal that someone is trying to reach.

I’m a teaching blogger, I’m a how-to kind of blogger. 95% of my posts are how to content. I always start with one of those things; a question, a problem, a process, a task, or a goal that someone is trying to achieve. Generally, that defines the topic of my post. I’m coming from that perspective today as a teaching blogger, I’m sure other people would choose topics based upon other things but that’s where I’m coming from.

Number two, this is something I think is really important, I don’t see too many other people writing about this when they outline their process. Number two for me is to remind myself of my reader. I’ve kind of eluded to this in my first point, picking a topic, because almost all the posts that I write tend to come out of questions or problems or goals that my readers have. In this step, I take a moment before I write anything to try and imagine the situation of my reader. You are so much more effective in your blogging if you write with your reader in mind, if you write to your reader. I think it’s really important to pause before you write, to picture your reader.

I’ve talked in previous episodes about how I’ve got avatars or reader profiles. I think I talked about this in Episode 33, about how to develop an avatar. In this step, I go a little bit deeper and I try and write a sentence before I write anything else about who my reader is and how they look at this topic, how they view the topic that I’m talking about, the perspective that they might have on this topic.

If I’m writing about a problem, why do they have that problem? Why does my typical reader have that problem? How do they feel about that problem? What have they previously tried to overcome that problem? What has stopped them from solving that problem in the past? Take a few minutes to put yourself in the shoes of your reader. This might be about you going back in time to when you had that problem or when you had that question, and actually just let yourself marinate in the situation of your reader for a moment because if you write from that perspective with that person in mind, you’re going to be so much more effective in your writing. You’re going to write with empathy and you’re going to write a relevant piece of content for them. You’re not going to write a hypothetical post, you’re going to write something that’s going to solve a person’s problem.

Let me give you a really quick example. I might choose to write a post on my photography blog answering a really common question that we get quite a bit. The question we often get is, “How should I light my portraits?” That’s a typical question we get. It’s a good question, but there’s a lot of different ways that I can approach that question depending on who is asking the question. My readers, who are they? What type of gear do they have? What type of budget do they have to buy new gear? What type of experience or level are they at in their photography?

If I was doing this for my readers on Digital Photography School, I’d write a short sentence or two describing my reader. If I was doing this for DPS readers, I might identify that a lot of our readers are just starting out with photography, they’re beginners. Their perspective, their viewpoint of lighting a portrait is they don’t even know where to start. They may not have too much lighting gear at their fingertips, they may have one flash, they may not even have a flash, they might be just using lights around their home, they might be on a real budget.

Knowing that gives me a viewpoint to write that article from, it gives me a perspective to tackle, it gives me a real understanding of who might be reading their article. I’m not going to write an article about how to light a portrait with professional photography gear in this case, I’m going to write something from the perspective of someone just starting out. Think about your reader, think about the situation they’re in, the feelings they have, the questions that they have around your topic. The more you can do thinking around that, the better position you’re going to be in to outline an article and to write that article with real empathy and in a relatable way.

The other thing I’m thinking about when I’m thinking about my reader is what do I want them to do after reading my article? Thinking about the call to action before you start writing anything is really important because it will shape your article, it will shape your headline, it will shape your introduction, it will shape the way you write your main part of the content, and it will shape your conclusion. Don’t just get to the end of your article and ask yourself, “What do I want my readers to do now?” Ask that question before you start writing.

Number three, create a working headline. This is something that I’ve actually changed my perspective on, I used to write the article and then write a headline. I know some people prefer to do it that way and that’s totally fine, I understand that perspective. What I like to do is spend a little bit of time taking that topic, taking that reader perspective, and trying to come up with a headline. I find that sometimes in the creating of a working headline that I find a unique angle to write the post from, particularly given the work I’ve just done on understanding my readers.

If I want to take that example a little bit further, the question I’m writing about is how do I light a portrait. I’ve done the work in understanding my reader, I understand they’re beginners, they don’t have much lighting gear. I might brainstorm headlines and come up with things like how to light a portrait using lights you find around your home. That might be something that interests that type of reader. Or, how to light a portrait when you’ve only got one flash.

They’re not really fully formed headlines yet, but they’re good enough for a working headline. I might choose one of those. Really, by coming up with a variety of those type of headlines, I actually now have an angle for my article. I might take that one how to light a portrait using the lights that you find around your home, that gives me the whole article. I can start to think about what lights do I have around the home and begin to construct that particular article. Or if I choose the one how to light a portrait with just one flash, I now have the boundaries of what that article needs to be about. For me, creating that working headline upfront sometimes just gives a little bit more tightness to what the article is about.

I will say, it’s important that this is just a working headline, it’s just a working title. I often, if not always, go back and tweak and change the headline later after I’ve written the article, or sometimes even as I’m writing the article I’m thinking about I need to change that headline a little bit.

I do talk a lot about headlines in Episode 156. If headlines is something you want to learn more about, I give you a variety of different ways to come up with a great headline for your article in that episode 156.

Number four is to brainstorm and list the main points or the main teaching of your article. I’m coming from someone who’s teaching in most of my articles. For me, it’s about trying to construct something that is going to teach people or is going to convince people of something. At this point, I’m not really writing a lot, I’m coming up more with a bullet point list, and I do this in a text document on my computer, sometimes I’ll do it on a notepad or I’m doing this in mind mapping. I did talk about that in Episode 182. I use a couple of softwares to create mind maps. Sometimes, for some of my larger articles, I like to visualize it. In many cases, it’s about doing it on a piece of paper or on a text document.

I’m trying at this point to brainstorm the answers to the questions that I’ve identified, or solutions to problems, I’m outlining the steps that a reader needs to go through to learn a new skill or master a process. I’m really trying to add the bones to the article, I’m not adding muscles, I’m not really adding much at this point. I’m just coming up with bullet points. Those bullet points will often become subheadings in my articles. I tend to almost start with a list, my articles don’t always end up as a list although sometimes they do. I find that by coming up with some main subheadings for my article for the main sections, and then beginning to come up with a few sub points for each of those sections, that’s where the article begins to form for me.

This is really the outlining process. I often start with more points than I actually end up using in the article. I’m thinking about all the possible things I could write and then I begin to call it down and come up with the main things that I want to say, the most valuable things.

I don’t get too precious about how many points I’m going to make, I know some bloggers only create lists of seven things. I don’t do that, I use as many points in my articles as I think are useful and I try and make it the best article I can. Some of my articles and podcasts have one point, sometimes it’s most effective if you’ve just got one big idea, and sometimes I have up to 20 or 30. I think I had a podcast recently with 21 points in it.

It’s about trying to come up with what you’re going to say, outline that in a bullet point or in a mind map in some ways. You may want to write a sentence about what you’d say in each of those sections, or some sub bullet points as well.

I think it’s really important to arrange those points in the right order. This is something I think a lot of bloggers could improve their writing by just taking a moment or two to ask themselves is this the right order? Is it a logical order? Are my points building upon one another?

Most articles, it’s much more effective to put them in a logical order, in an order that builds momentum and makes sense to your readers. Spend some time on that. At this point, I’m still outlining, I try and take a bit of a critical look at the outline I’ve come up with. When I’m happy with the outline, I look at it and then I start to ask myself some hard questions. This sometimes isn’t a very nice process, but sometimes things like is this outline going to be useful? Usually, you can tell from an outline whether it’s going to be a lightweight article or whether it’s gonna be really useful. Is someone going to have a fist pump moment when they read this article, given the points you’ve come up with, or are they going to say that was okay? “They got me to click but it didn’t really change my life.” Is that article useful? Is it meaningful? Is it going to change someone’s life in some way?

What questions might people still be asking at the end of reading that type of article, looking at the points that you’re going to make. Will they have some questions? Make note of what those questions are. Is there something that you don’t know as the author yet about this topic that you really should know? Sometimes when we write articles, we get to the end of the article and we go, “I didn’t really know enough about that. I should’ve done some research on that.” What arguments and objections might people have about this article having a look at that outline?

I think it’s really important to ask those types of questions, be critical about the outline that you’ve come up with. Don’t just ask those questions at the end when you’ve written the whole thing. I think it’s important to ask some of those questions as you’re drafting an outline for your article. Because sometimes, at this point in the process, you realize that you need to go away and do some research, or that you need to go away and ask some questions of your own to learn more about that particular topic, or maybe at this point having asked those questions you think actually this is a bit of a weak article, I’m not going to write it.

That’s happened to me many times, I’d much rather come to that conclusion that this is not a strong article. At that point then after I’ve already written something because that’s going to take me several hours more. Ask some of those critical questions at this point. It may be that you need to go away and do some research. I try not to look at what other people have written too early in the process, I like to outline my article first, and then do some research and see what other people have written to see if there’s any other ways that I can improve it. I tend to do that later. It’s also really important to make note of who inspired you so that you can give some credit for that as well.

The other thing you might want to do, having asked some of those questions, if you realize that the article is not going to be strong enough, you may want to go away and seek some help from other people. You can seek help by reading other people’s articles, but maybe there’s someone you can do an interview with or ask some questions or even get them to write a section of your post for you. This point in the drafting of your post, it’s important to have asked those questions so that you can put in place answers to the objections people will have, that you can strengthen something that’s shaping up to be weak.

Number five is where we begin to work on the introduction. I do know that some people wait until after they’re written their article and then go back and write their introduction, in the same ways that people sometimes do that for their headline. I, again, find that for me, writing the introduction upfront is good, it helps me get into the flow as a writer. Sometimes, I find that if I’ve written an introduction, again it shapes the direction of the article and it helps me to write the rest of the article faster and more in the flow. I will say as with a headline, I will often go back and re-work an introduction later, I think it’s important to do that. I find for me writing that introduction early is good.

When you’re doing your introduction, a few things I’ll say about that. Again, as you’re writing an introduction, be really thinking about your reader and their position, the questions and the feelings that they have. I think a good introduction not only identifies the topic, which is important, but it also should empathize with the reader. It should show your reader that you understand their situation, that you understand the question they have or the problem they have and how they feel about that. I think if you can show some empathy in those first few lines, you’ll make a deeper connection with your reader and that will drive them to want to read the rest of your article. Show them that you know how they feel, that you understand their situation, rather than you’re just writing a hypothetical article on a topic.

Paint a picture also of what the benefits of them reading the rest of your article are. You might want to make a promise, you might want to say this is an outcome that you’ll have as a result of reading this article. They’re the type of things that I would put in an introduction. For me, an introduction is generally between one and three paragraphs. As I’ve said, this will get reworked later, it’s a working introduction.

Point number six is to expand your main points. With the introduction written, I then tackle each of the previously outlined points that I’ve gone through in putting that outline together. This is where I write the bulk of the article, this is where I spend a lot of time. Sometimes for me, it will take a couple hours to write a couple thousand words or a thousand words, sometimes it will take me a couple of days to really work through this depending on how hard it is and whether I’m in the flow or not of writing. Generally, what I do is take a bullet point from my outline and come up with a subheading for that part of the article. And then, I write a paragraph or two or three, or maybe a little bullet list as part of that article.

I try and stick to the outline I’ve previously come up with, but it’s not unusual for me to also be thinking of more things that I can say as I’m going. I’ll either make note of the other ideas I’m getting on a piece of paper next to me, or I might add them to the outline that I already come up with.

I also find as I’m writing articles, I get ideas for new articles. It’s often in this part of the process that I’ll be tempted as I’m writing to take a tangent. I’ve trained myself to be aware that sometimes those tangents take in the middle of an article are actually new blog posts. I think it’s really useful to have somewhere as you’re writing that you can just brain dump other ideas that you get, or other questions that you think readers might have that relate to your topic.

Really, point number six here is about expanding the main points. It’s adding meat to those bones that you’ve come up with earlier in your article. You can see here that I tend to write my articles in the order that my readers read them. For me, this is really important. I write the headline, the introduction, the main part of the article.

Point number seven is really moving onto the conclusion. The age old advice of Aristotle says, “Tell them what you’ll say,” that’s your introduction. “Then, tell them,” which is the main part of your article. “And then tell them what you just told them,” this is the conclusion. Good articles have some kind of a conclusion. For me again, I do this after I’ve written the bulk of the article. Once I know what I’ve told them, I then try and sum up my teaching in some way.

Usually for me, this is about trying to return to the problem or the question that I set out in the introduction to tackle, to remind people what I’ve tried to teach them. Give them a bit of a summary of the main points again. You’ve probably heard me do this in the podcast quite a bit. I generally go back through the points that I’ve made, put them in a nice, quick summary statement. And then, it’s important to ask your readers to take some kind of action and to go back to that thing that you identified right at the start that you want your readers to do and then ask them to do that. It’s important not to ask them to do too many things but clearly state the one thing you want them to do next. Make it very clear what you want them to do. That can really be anything. Depending on the article, it could be to do something that you’ve been just teaching them to do. Go away and try this technique I’ve just talked about, or it might be something more about leaving a comment, or telling a story, or responding and interacting with what you’ve done in some way. There’s no right call to action, it really has to flow from the goals of your blog and the goals of this particular article.

Number eight, before I do any editing, I’m looking to polish and add depth in some way. I think almost every article could be improved in some way, and not just by editing, there can be more added to it. Could you add a story? Could you add an image? Could you go and find a video on YouTube that you can embed into it? Could you create a chart that illustrates something that you’ve done? How could you make it look better and how can you make the content actually be better? Could you go away and find a quote from someone and add that particular thing in? Could you go away and do a little mini interview with someone to add in some of their ideas, with maybe an alternative viewpoint to what you’ve written. It’s really important to make your content look really good but to add depth to it as well.

Step number nine, the last one I want to talk about, is to edit and proofread. You’ve spent a lot of time by this point steering over your article but you need to take a little bit of a step back at this point and do some editing. For me, I find putting a bit of space between when I write and when I edit is really important. I think we use different parts of our brains for this more critical thinking about editing. I suggested seven steps for editing your work in Episode 168, but I do want to emphasize it’s so important to do. You waste all that energy by publishing something that’s not quite good enough and that’s got glaring mistakes in it. Do some editing, or get someone else to help you with that particular process. Build editing and proofreading into your workflow. Quality control really does matter.

To summarize that, because all good conclusions have a summary, pick your topic, number one. Number two, remind yourself of your reader, do a little bit of work about putting yourself in their shoes. Number three, create a working headline. Number four is to brainstorm and to list the main points of your article. Number five, write a working introduction. Number six, expand the main points. Number seven is write a conclusion and call to action. Number eight is to polish. I should’ve said in the polishing stage for me, that’s where I go back to my headline, I go back to my introduction, and rework those so that they’re not just working headlines, working introductions, they are the final ones. Number nine is to edit and proofread your content.

That’s my workflow. I would love to know how this differs from yours, what you would add into it. I wrote a whole series of posts on this topic quite a few years ago now on the ProBlogger blog. I’m going to link back to that because I think it’s still relevant today, I do go into more depth in each of the things that I’ve talked about. I also have another one right at the end about what to do after you’ve published your content as well.

The title of that series was actually called How To Craft A Blogpost, 10 Crucial Points To Pause. The whole idea of that series was that I think a lot of bloggers—I’ve done this myself. It’s so tempting to just bang out a blogpost, just bang out an article and hit publish and put it out there. The whole point of that series, and hopefully of this particular episode, is that I think it’s so important to take your time and to craft the content that you have. That means pausing to ask question, pausing to imagine your reader, pausing to make it better, to add depth, to polish. Crafts people don’t just bang out art, they really take their time and they add depth to it. They make it the best it can be. I think it’s important that we do that with our content.

Whatever workflow you have, I really encourage you to pause along the way to be reflective about it, to ask those questions along the way. Most importantly, to really keep coming back to who is reading that content. On the other end of that content is a human being who has needs, who has problems, who has feelings, who has a situation that they’re in, and to really spend a little bit of time throughout this whole process, to picture them, to understand them, and to write for them. It’s such an important thing. Your content will rise in quality, it will rise in relevance to people, and it will be the type of thing that people will want to share because they feel connected to you if you go to that extra effort of understanding who’s on the other side of that content. Craft your content, don’t just create it, craft it, take your time with it.

You can find today’s show notes with all the further listening that I mentioned along the way over at problogger.com/podcast/186. I hope you found this one useful, and also as I said before, check out the ProBlogger Podcast Listeners Facebook Group where we do have some details of some upcoming events, particularly an event coming up in the US. Love to connect with you and hopefully even meet you and see you there.

Thanks for listening today, I’ll chat with you in Episode 187.

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