Close
Close

The Most Important Tip For Better Writing

Glen Stansberry is the author of the blog LifeDev (feed). Check out LifeDev for other tips about productivity and life improvement.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Becoming a better writer is the best thing you can do to improve your blog’s readership and traffic. Not how many buttons you have for easy submission to social services, not detailed SEO optimization, and certainly not gimmicky headlines that are created to tempt potential readers into reading your article. All of these things do have some effect on getting people to your blog, but if they don’t like what they’re reading, they’re sure-as-shootin’ not going to come back. It’s all about the content.

Good writers have an advantage on traffic because their readers come back every time they write a new article. Many blog readers are also bloggers, so they in turn link to the posts. The more links a blog has, the higher its posts rank in search engines, and the blog receives even more traffic. Not only that, compelling content gives readers a reason to submit to social sites like Digg and Del.icio.us (regardless of whether or not you have those handy buttons).

So how does one define a good writer? At the very least a decent writer can construct sentences that show at least a 3rd grade reading level. (While this is a rather facetious statement, I have come across a couple blogs that don’t meet this standard. Hopefully the authors really were 2nd graders.)
[Read more...]

Write a Better Blog Series In One Sitting

This post was written by Glen Stansberry of LifeDev (feed). Check out LifeDev for tips to increase creativity and productivity in your writing.

If you’re wanting to generate a little bit of buzz around your blog, you might think about writing a blog series. I’ve found that they usually generate a fair amount of link love, and if anything it gives your regular readers something to look forward to.

However, writing a blog series isn’t always the easiest thing to do. It can be a daunting task, and the potential to stop halfway is very high.

I just wrote a blog series on digital vs. paper productivity tools, and while writing stumbled on a great little tip. I found that the best way to write a blog series is to write it all before you hit publish. Just by writing them all up, and use the advanced posting feature to automate the process over a few days (or however long your blog series is), you can kick back and watch your series take care of itself throughout the week. It’s a beautiful thing.

I know writing an entire series ahead of time sounds scary and daunting, but it’s really not that bad and it will pay off. Here’s why. [Read more...]

Blogging’s Most Underused Feature: Future Posts

This post was written by Glen Stansberry of LifeDev (feed). Check out LifeDev for more tips on using tools to make your life more productive.

Creating posts for the future is an extremely valuable and overlooked feature in most blogging platforms. Interestingly, the majority of people don’t even know that this feature exists in most blogging tools. Yet I’d argue that it’s one of the most important features, at least in terms of being productive.

Basic productivity is aided by dividing up your tasks by the tools that are used to complete them. For example, if you’re going to be on the phone, make all of your calls in one sitting. By grouping together your tasks by tools, you can complete the tasks quicker. If you’ve heard anything about GTD (Getting Things Done), this will sound familiar to you.

For our purposes, the tasks are blog posts and the tool is your blogging platform (IE WordPress, Blogger, Drupal, etc.). So if you want to be uber-productive, this means writing multiple posts in one sitting. In fact, you could even crank out some/most of your posts for the week in one sitting, depending on the type of blog you have. (This method doesn’t work well for news breaking blogs.) Just write them up, and set your post to publish in the future. Easy peasy.

Try it out and see how much time you’ll save with blogging in the future. And for that matter, if you’re interested in learning more about GTD, check out my GTD Cheatsheet Series for a head start.

The Importance of Letting A Good Post Wait

This article was written by Glen Stansberry of LifeDev (feed). Check out LifeDev if you want more ways to be creative and efficient with your writing.

Growing a readership is something that takes hard work and a little luck. Sure, sites like Digg and Reddit can greatly expand your readership overnight, but it’s really the way you craft your posts that will help the most with growing your blog. A bangin’ post is worth 10 mediocre ones any day. But unfortunately for most of us, in order to write a great post you have to be a… decent writer.

Becoming a better writer should be every blogger’s goal. Better writers can craft posts in a way that a) get their point across quicker and b) connect with the audience more effectively. No matter what your content, your audience will always benefit from better writing. And if your audience is happy, you’ll be happy too.

The darndest thing about blog content is that you can have the most amazing post in the world, but if you can’t create mildly decent sentences with proper spelling and grammar, nobody’s going to listen to you.

If you’re going to write like a drunk kindergartener, you can kiss your subscription rate goodbye.

[Disclaimer: The author does not even pretend to be any authority on "proper writing". As a matter of fact, he fell asleep frequently in English classes throughout his youth.]

If you’re not a great writer yet, don’t stress. Improving your writing skills comes mostly from practice and reading other great writers. But I’ve found that the most effective way to improving my blogging has been to just let my posts sit. If I sleep on a post, odds are it will be much better than had I just hit “Publish”. You see, most of the blogging mojo comes after the writing is done.

Once you’ve stopped typing you’ve only just begun the writing process. Read it through, at least a couple times. Odds are each time you read it through, you’ll pick up on stuff that could be worded better, or explained more, or even taken out completely. Don’t be afraid to let something sit overnight, or even longer. Think of your post as like a cheese that just gets better with age.

I’ve found that some of my best posts were crafted over the course of days. Yet it paid off in the end. The social sites went to town on that content, and now I’ve got backlinks galore from those posts.

You don’t want to let your posts sit too long though. At this point your fine cheese has turned a little too green. I wouldn’t recommend letting your posts “percolate” more than a week. Some people can pull it off, but for me I lose interest in the original topic too quickly, and most of my original ideas are gone.

So when you start to craft your next post, let it sit for a bit and see what happens. I guarantee your quality of writing will increase. And if your blog’s quality increases, so will your readership.

Use A Startpage to Blog More Efficiently

This post was written by Glen Stansberry of LifeDev.net (feed). Check out LifeDev if you’re interesting in adding more productivity and creativity to your blogging and life.

There are tons of startpage options to choose from: Google Homepage, Netvibes, Pageflakes and a slew of others. Personally, I’d recommend either Netvibes or Pageflakes, but to each his own.

A startpage can be a very valuable tool if you find yourself doing a lot of blogging. The most immediate benefit of using a startpage is the ability to do many blog-essential tasks from one interface. Tasks like searching, jotting down post ideas, and reading news. These can become pretty cumbersome if you do them frequently. Using a startpage greatly speeds up the process, and in some cases can even automate it.

Here are some of the most immediate pluses to using a startpage as opposed to a traditional feed reader.

1. Customizable feed layouts. You can subscribe to many different feeds like a traditional feed reader, but instead of showing up in a river of news style the feeds show up in boxes. You can visually manipulate the layout to display the feed boxes however you want. You can toggle them open or closed, and you can arrange your most important feeds towards the top, leaving the less active ones at the bottom. This allows you to quickly scan the page for new items.

2. Tons ‘O Tools. You can have a plethora of resources to aide your blogging. Todo lists to keep track of post ideas, rich media (video, image, podcast) searches, blog search, instant messaging, imported del.icious links, email… the options are virtuously limitless when tricking out your startpage.

3. Multiple pages. Most startpages allow you to create multiple pages. So for example, you could have an entire page dedicated to one blog, with all the relevant feeds, rich media searches.

4. Shareable pages. If you’ve got more than one author on your blog, share your startpage with them. That way you can both use the same resources, as well as easily stay on top of what the other is doing.

So to put an example startpage in action, check out a demo of one I made here for cars at Netvibes. I only added one feed, but you could add many many more. I just wanted to showcase the power and simplicity of being able to search blogs, movies, podcasts and more in one interface.

I’ve been using startpages for a couple of my niche blogs, and I can say with certainty that it has greatly cut down the time used per post. While I do like Google Reader, a startpage just brings more overall blogging functionality to the table.

How about you guys? Do you have any unique setups with startpages that help you blog?