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5 Intellectual Property Laws about the Internet Bloggers Need to Know

This is a guest contribution from  JT Ripton, a Freelance writer from Tampa.

An image depicting IP Law

Image via Flickr by auggie tolosa

Intellectual property law protects much of the content that you enjoy on the internet. Though you aren’t always required to pay to enjoy this content, that doesn’t make it free for all types of use. Since many intellectual property laws haven’t yet been adapted specifically for the Internet, here’s a rundown of the basics you can use to safely guide your decisions.

Photos and Images are Not Free for Use

Quick and simple searches like Google Images make it seem like the Internet is overflowing with free photos and images. However, copyright law protects most of these photos. If you’re looking for images you can post on your blog, you need to look for those with a Creative Commons license. You can also pay for rights to use certain images.

Creative Commons Licenses Come in Different Forms

Creative Common licenses give you access to various forms of intellectual property. There are many different types of Creative Commons licenses. Before using something that’s protected under this type of license, you must carefully look at it to decide exactly how you can use the image. Some licenses allow commercial use while others do not. Some allow you to alter an image while others stipulate that it must stay in its original form. Attribution is typically required.

Most Movies, Music, and Television are Protected

Although there are many sites where you can get access to movies, television shows, and music for free, these downloads are typically illegal. Though the sites themselves are not violating any laws, you are if you share or download copyrighted material. You can legally view some movies and shows online, but you cannot download them. Network sites often show recent episodes of popular shows and sites like Netflix and Hulu offer access to movies and shows with a paid subscription.

Plagiarism Isn’t Just for School Papers

You undoubtedly learned about the dangers of plagiarism in high school and college, but these laws’ importance doesn’t end when you’re finished writing term papers and dissertations. Whether you have a blog yourself or you write for others, you cannot reproduce another’s intellectual property and take credit for it as your own. Cite your sources, use quotation marks when needed, and try to limit your works to your own unique ideas as much as possible. Referencing another article and quoting from a book are fine. Reposting an entire article or chapter of a published piece are not.

Permission Trumps All

When in doubt about a work, simply ask for permission to use it. Just as the Internet make it easy to find works, so too does it make it easy to contact creators. Many will gladly give you the necessary permissions when requested.

The Internet is a great forum for sharing everything from thoughts and ideas to your original photos, films, and musical works. However, it’s essential that you always think about who has the rights to the content in question and act so that you do not violate them.

JT Ripton is a Freelance writer from Tampa, FL, he’s been using the internet before most people even knew what it was.  JT writes about several of his interests including, blogging, all things tech, and useful tips and idea’s for a myriad of things. He likes to write to inform and intrigue.

Blog like Hemingway: 5 Writing Tips to Improve Your Blog

This is a guest contribution from Victoria Elizabeth, writer for the Ometria Blog.

Type writer - in the beginning

If Ernest Hemingway were around today, he would have made an excellent blogger. From online news sites to individual industry experts and straightforward enthusiasts, people are using blogs as a way to attract consumers to their goods, services and information. With all the blogs out there on the internet, it can be difficult to weed out the good from the bad.

Although what makes a good blog post can differ with context, you should keep in mind that bloggers and content marketers are always pressed for time. So making your blog posts as digestible as possible will ensure that you keep them interested and engaged with your writing.

Hemingway’s short, snappy prose delivers a clear message and his writing scarcely strays into flowery descriptions. Online content writers in-the-know understand why his style is worth emulating, and so should you.

Here are 5 blog writing tips that Hemingway would have definitely approved of:

1. Short Sentences are KeyScissors with letters

This tip seems obvious but if writing isn’t a regular habit for you, then it’s easy to fall into writing longer run-on sentences. Hemingway was fond of short clear sentences and thought little of elaborate language.

You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.” Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast.

Your writing should be similarly straight to the point as an online audience won’t hesitate to leave your webpage with a click once they get bored or confused by your language.

2. Research the Truth

Hemingway wanted to find the truth within stories, and his research heavily drove his writing pursuits. Research is vital to writing truthfully, and this should always be your priority as a blogger.

If you want to move people with your message, then you must convince your audience of the truth in your writing. Hemingway also wasn’t a fan of adjectives, and bloggers who use words like ‘great, exciting, amazing, etc.’ tend to betray their creative insecurities. These words detract from your message instead of adding value so beware the verbose adjectival pitfall (See what I did there?)

A laptop with books - Internet research

3. Brief Clear Introductions

Not only do short clear introductions allow your readers to gauge whether they will read on, it is also the best opportunity to hook them in. No one likes to read four paragraphs if they can read four sentences instead. In marketing, time is money, and reading time is something that people are less likely to extend solely for your long elaborate blog post.

4. A Specific Beat or Topic of Specialty

You can’t write about all of your knowledge in one blog post. Your purpose should be to educate and convince people, and you should always have material left for another time. Never give away all your secrets as this will shorten the lifespan of your blog, and leave you with no material to keep writing about. The trouble is figuring out what the right balance should be. How much is too little, or too much? Evaluate your topic to see how much information should be included in one post and try to stick to a consistent word count as well.

5. Writing HabituallyNotepad and coffee - a writing habit

Writing effectively means that you form a habit of doing it everyday. This is difficult for most people, but if you train yourself it will undoubtedly become easier. Hemingway typically wrote about 500 words a day from daybreak till noon, and tried not to think about his writing until the next day.

Hemingway’s habit had a twofold benefit. First, the morning is a good time to write because your mind is fresh and the day’s distractions are limited. Second, leaving your writing aside for the afternoon allows you to digest and process what you write, while you focus on other important things. You will find your afternoon workload lighter because you already accomplished so much, and may get more ideas from subconsciously digesting what you wrote earlier.

Stick to these simple little tips and you will ensure that your writing style stays clear and concise for your readers to enjoy.

Victoria Elizabeth writes for the Ometria Blog. See her recent article on the Wild West of Big Data.

20 Quick Tips on Writing Great Blog Posts

In preparation for an interview on writing great blog content, I jotted down some ‘quick tips’. While they are all short I hope that they might spark some ideas – enjoy!

    1. Tell your story – it is what makes your content unique
    2. Share how you feel – it will take your readers to a deeper place
    3. You’ll never please everyone – the sooner you come to peace with this, the better
    4. Write about things that matter to you – passion is infectious
    5. Inform, Inspire and Interact – aim to do these things every week!
    6. Experiment with different styles of writing – it will help you find your voice
    7. Mix up the length of your posts – short can be sweet but long can be epic!
    8. When an idea strikes – drop everything and capture it!
    9. Do everything you can to understand who is reading your blog – it will make you more useful to them
    10. Before you publish – ask what you want your reader to do after reading your post – and edit accordingly
    11. Become hyper aware of problems – and obsess over writing posts that solve them
    12. Put aside time to create quality content – it doesn’t just appear
    13. Put aside time to edit and polish your posts – it will take them to the next level
    14. Get a life – you’ll be a much more interesting writer if you’ve lived a little
    15. Ask your readers questions – it will make them feel like they belong and you’ll learn a lot too!
    16. Take your readers on a journey – posts that build from one to another can be powerful
    17. Brainstorm regularly – generating ideas for future posts now can save a lot of pain later
    18. Not every post needs to go viral – shareable content will help you grow but it may not serve your current readers best
    19. Write, Write Write – the more you write, the better you will get
    20. Publish selectively – you don’t need to publish everything you write

    What quick blog writing would you add?

Jeremy Schoemaker’s Ninja Tricks for Long Form Sales Pages

This is a guest contribution from  Stephan Spencer.

Web entrepreneur and founder of hugely successful ShoeMoney Media Group and the Shoemoney blog, Jeremy Schoemaker has found incredible success in the use of long form sales pages. Although at an early point in his web-marketing career he questioned the effectiveness of such approaches, once he actually started using long form sales pages to market his online products, he was amazed by their success.

Surprisingly, they work.

People actually take the time to read the page and become familiar with the product you are offering. And if you’re still hesitant to believe this, consider that Jeremy uses these pages to generate well over a million dollars in annual infoproduct revenue.

The long form sales page alone won’t necessarily make you millions, but the use of Jeremy Schoemaker’s personal Ninja tricks to optimize your page will take you well on your way to online riches.

Ninja Trick #1

Pre-populate fields on your sales page 

Pre-populate your sales page using information you have already gathered from people visiting the site. This will shorten the time it will take to fill out the form and decrease the amount of effort visitors to your site will have to put forth.

Some information you can gather from affiliates, like the visitor’s email. The affiliate will encode it, you can decode it, and then on the actual form when people submit it, you can pre-populate their name and their email. You can do that for all sorts of information based on whether the user sends that information.

You rarely see pre-population in action, but it helps conversion incredibly because of the amount of people that type in their email or name wrong or make an error filling out the form for whatever reason.

In addition, you can use geo-targeting data to help you pre-populate location-based data. You can fill in the state they live in and the city for the most part. By the time you are done pre-populating fields for the visitor on the form there are only a small number of boxes they will have to do themselves. It makes signing up convenient and simple, thus increasing the likelihood of conversion.

Ninja Trick #2

Take actions based on the merchant response code

In addition to information you can gather from affiliates, be sure to take advantage of the information you can gather from your merchants. When you’re logging this stuff in real time, you can see that some of the merchant response codes give you valuable information. For example, a 201 code means “insufficient funds” and a 202 code means their “credit card is over the limit”.

This is interesting in that you can pitch that potential customer instantly at a lower price point if they qualify, offering them a special deal, knowing that they would be unlikely to purchase at full price. A message like “Congratulations! You’ve been randomly selected to receive 50% off!” would help to legitimize your offer.

In addition, if you see a number of visitors fail to sign up due to language difficulties or for whatever reason, it may be beneficial to automatically take them to a PayPal checkout or to show them a PayPal icon on the page. These consumers may not have a credit card readily available, but they tend to have a PayPal account.

It is important to use the merchant codes to your advantage, so you can take advantage of otherwise lost sales.

Ninja Trick #3

Include international traffic first

If you are going to do an offer like this and you’re going to optimize it, Jeremy highly recommends including international traffic first. This is because you can get it for around 12-13 cents CPM and it will actually help you to optimize, using very cheap traffic.

You could look at this like a “cart before the horse” scenario: you can’t really optimize until you have traffic, but you don’t want to buy traffic until it’s optimized. International traffic helps you solve this conundrum.

Ninja Trick #4

Make use of Visual Website Optimizer 

Visual Website Optimizer is Google Analytics Content Experiments (formerly known as Google Website Optimizer) on steroids. You can tell it which URLs you want people to go to and assign goals to it just like you would do with Google. However, while Google’s tool has problems with delay and cross-domain tracking, Visual Website Optimizer excels at those things.

The best thing about Visual Website Optimizer is that it is amazingly simple to set up.  It offers a simple interface to continually edit and optimize your pages through real time multivariate testing. Changes are made as soon as you save, so it eliminates the painful delay you can have with other testing tools.

Once you load in everything you want to test, Visual Website Optimizer will try out all your variables in varying combinations and then hone in on the very best performing combinations and only run those, cancelling out the poor performers.

This is really what Google Analytics Content Experiments should be, and it will help your optimization efforts incredibly.

Ninja Trick #5

Make use of ClickTale

ClickTale tells the story of what your visitors are doing. It records the sessions of each visitor to your site so you can see exactly how they interact with its elements and its sales form. You are also able to create funnels and perform form analytics that identify the stumbling blocks on your form (where people are constantly having trouble) and demonstrate how your form converts.

ClickTale records each person that visits your site, allowing you to watch their session and see in real time how they interact with your page.  It also combines all of those sessions into heatmaps so you can see where people are moving their mouse on your site.

In addition it shows JavaScript errors that your sales pages may exhibit. It will show you the error, what page it was on, and offer you a chance to replay that and see the popup box the visitor received. This will help you build a bulletproof sales page that works on every browser.

The online world is very competitive, so every little advantage helps. Whatever gives you that extra edge, use it, because the competition doesn’t play by the rules. Jeremy’s aforementioned Ninja techniques will help you gain this advantage and thrive online.

Stephan Spencer is co-author of The Art of SEO, now in its second edition, and author of Google Power Search. He is the founder of SEO agency Netconcepts, acquired by Covario in 2010, and inventor of automated pay-for-performance SEO technology platform GravityStream. He is a contributor to the Huffington Post, Multichannel Merchant, Search Engine Land, Practical Ecommerce, and MarketingProfs.

When You Have Nothing Unique to Say…

I’ve got nothing unique to say.
It has all been said before.
There are so many people who are smarter than me.
Why would anyone listen to me?

Have you ever found yourself thinking like this?

If so – you’re not alone. At one point or another most bloggers do, and many would be bloggers have been stopped in their tracks by them.

Here’s the deal:

Nobody has lived your life before.
Nobody has your story.
Nobody has faced and overcome what you’ve overcome.
Nobody thinks in exactly the same way that you do.

So write – but infuse what you write with your story.

Your story is what makes it unique.
Your story is what’s never been said before.
Your story is something nobody else could ever know better than you.
Your story is why anyone would listen to you.

5 Tips To Writing Irresistibly Clickable Blog Titles

This is a guest contribution from Jackson Nwachukwu, lead blogger at DailyTipsDiary.com.

You’ve just been inspired and you’re ready to write the blog post you hope will be a hit.

The title not might be the first step in your planning process but it’s fair to say that most people automatically start thinking about what they will call their hit post.

After all, you don’t just want any blog title. You want one of those blog titles that gets readers excited before they’ve opened your post.

An average of 8 readers out of 10 will read a blog post title, while less than 3 out of the same 10 readers will read the rest of the article. This simple statistic shows how your post title greatly affects the entire content of your post.

So you stop.

Image courtesy of artur84 on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In order to quickly get a reader’s attention, you need to find smart ways of coming up with ckickable blog titles.

Imagine a reader typing a few keywords on Google search engine. Google returns a list of search results and your post title has emerged along side with other related blogs in your niche. What do you think your reader does first?

It’s very simple. He or she will scan through the list and choose for the best post title. Based on my “3E’s Blogging Rule exposure, experience and expertise, here are 5 tips that will help you write irresistibly clickable blog post titles.

1. Let Passion in

Search engines aren’t the main audience you need to write for, so it’s important to let some passion into your post title.

I made passion first on the list because it can determine the mindset your readers has when they open your post.

You can’t do well at something you have no love for and the same applies to writing a blog post. The only way to breathe life into a post title is to let passion take control of your writing. Once there is passion every other ingredient needed to write a catchy post title will surface.

2. Keep it Short but Focused

Your primary reason for writing a blog post is getting people to read it. Right?

To help connect readers to your blog post, you need a post title that clearly spells out what the post is about. The era of writing super long titles is over. When writing your post title, try to keep it short but also informative and compelling.

These two titles can give you a heads up:

A post title like “5 Tips To Writing Irresistibly Clickable Blog Titles” is much better compared to “Writing a Post Title: Top 5 Tips on How To Write A Post Title That is Clickable”.

3. Strike a Balance on Keywords Used in the Post Title

When it comes to thinking about SEO, using keywords in your blog title is advised But it’s important not to overdo it. A clickable post title should makes sense and be easy to read so don’t try to stuff awkward keywords into your title.

Looking at our two blog post titles again. The first title has eight words while the second has later has 17. In most cases, post titles with 10 words containing at least 2 keywords is considered SEO rich and will do better both in ranking and in attracting the attention of readers.

4. Make the Grammar look Good

Just because search engines don’t care about grammar doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Today, every reader wants to read well-structured blog posts that includes good grammar!

It becomes even more important when writing your post title because that is the first thing a reader will read before deciding on whether to read further or not.

More than once I have skipped over an article because of the title. If you don’t pay attention to grammar, you never know how many readers click away without reading your posts.

5. Know Which Special Characters to Use on your Post Title

There are handful of special characters you can use on your post title and those that I consider a no use characters.

The following special characters can be added in post titles: single dash (-), colon (:), question mark (?), exclamation mark (!)

  • The single dash (-) can be used to separate words in post headline
  • The colon (:) same goes for the colon, it can be used to separate words in titles
  • The question mark (?) this usually used when a title begs an answer, which means the title itself, is a question.
  • The exclamation point (!) this character is used when a title is meant to make the reader excited about a thing.

The following special characters CANNOT and SHOULD NOT be added in post titles: Ampersands (&), Greater than/Less than Symbols (< and >), the Pound Sign or Hash (#) the “At” Symbol (@).

Here is a Breakdown of these NO USE special characters

Ampersands (&) : This makes your post title URL to error out because you had the web browser  confused as to detecting  where your HTML code either begins or ends

“At” Symbol (@): The “At” Symbol (@) is a commonly used character associated with email addresses.  However, when it’s written as @ in post title URL, it confuses the web browser or RSS reader which interprets it as part of an email address rather than a web address.

Greater Than and Less Than Symbols (< and >): The two are used as tags to enclose HTML elements. This is usually used in text formatting, styling and other mark up languages and these characters, when used on your post title, cuts off your title URL.

Pound Sign or Hash (#): This character works specifically on links in certain sections of a webpage.

Let’s see how this works. When you look at the comments on each post written on ProBlogger, it has this Hash (#) symbol. So I picked this post:

Don’t Be Lazy: 9 Ways to Blog Smarter and Harder. When you click on the comment stats or icon on post pages, to access the comments on this post, you will see the link look like this http://www.problogger.net/archives/2013/06/18/9-ways-to-blog-smarter-and-harder/comment-page-1/#comment-5204560 .

Hope you have seen the Hash (#) attached to the suffix of the post link? Now imagine you added this tag on your post title. You will confuse the browser by directing you to the comment page!

In a nutshell, using any of these special characters (apart from the ones I specified earlier) on your post title kills your chances of getting your blog post translated properly by web browsers and above all confuses your readers.

In Summary

There is no right way to write blog post titles. However, learning writing tips like these will put you ten steps ahead of your competitors.

Which other methods have you been using to write blog post titles that attract readers?  

Jackson Nwachukwu is an entrepreneur, a freelance writer and the founder of Content Practical Media. Are you looking for a creative web content writer or copywriter to help grow your business website/blog’s traffic and increase sales? Hire Jackson to write for you.

Write Less, Say More

This is a guest contribution from Brooke McAlary, founder of Slow Your Home.

You’ve heard of slow food, perhaps even slow travel or slow homes. But slow…blogging? Really?

Isn’t the point of blogging to be topical, with our fingers on the pulse of global trends? Don’t we, as bloggers, pride ourselves on being the gatekeepers of information, upcoming releases and Game of Thrones memes?

Each day we feel pressured to uncover and share the next Big Thing – the app of the year, the design trend of the season, the life-hack no-one has ever shared before.

By adopting the slow blogging approach, however, you can walk away from that pressure. You intentionally choose to pull back, to put your hands up and say, “Hey, TechCrunch, you can have your 15 posts a day. I’m going to run my own race instead, thanks.”

But Why?

Aside from the obvious and very attractive point of not trying to compete with the BoingBoings, the Huffington Posts and the Apartment Therapies of the internet, slow blogging also allows you to say more while writing less.

But let’s back-track a moment.

What is Slow Blogging?

The term Slow Blogging was coined by Todd Sieling in his 2006 manifesto. Essentially Sieling outlined the movement as a rejection of immediacy and embracing the intrinsic value of our words.

In other words, wait until you have something interesting to say before hitting Publish.

What slow blogging isn’t, is lazy, ignorant or careless. It’s the exact opposite. It means you value both your time and that of your readers so much that you refuse to waste it. What you create is of value instead of simply adding to the noise.

A Slow Blogger:

  • Gives his ideas time and space to fully form. He doesn’t rush them out into the world simply to fill the silence.
  • Writes for people, not search engines.
  • Doesn’t focus on her analytics figures, subscriber count or Twitter followers. She sees the value, rather, in her tribe, her community, her people.
  • Has a simplified workflow. His days are not filled with productivity apps and curation tools. A notepad, some Post-Its or Evernote will suffice.
  • Is authentic, intentional and mindful in her writing. Honesty and transparency result from spending more time thinking and questioning.
  • Understands she cannot be everywhere. 

Why is Slow Blogging a Good Thing?

I’ve been writing about simple living for over two years, but it wasn’t until I started applying the elements of slow blogging that I saw vast improvement in my work, my community and my readership.

Slowing down, posting less frequently, spending more time thinking, studying and writing my posts, has ultimately led me to attract a much bigger audience. My readers now are engaged, inspired and my greatest champions, and I put much of that down to my decision to go Slow.

I’ll say that part again, because it bears repeating.

My readership has grown as I’ve posted less.

In addition to a more engaged audience, most bloggers who adopt all (or parts) of the slow blogging movement to their work will see the following advantages:

  • Your content will have greater depth and clarity.
  • The quality of your work will go up as your output goes down.
  • You will spend less time writing, giving you more time to spend on your life, business, work, family or cocktails in the sun.
  • You will experience less stress and less pressure as you stop focusing on traffic numbers, subscriber counts and comments.
  • You will focus more on delivering real value to the people in your audience, and therefore create a much more loyal community.
  • Yes, growth may be slower to begin with, but as you develop your voice and a reputation for depth, your audience will grow in both size and loyalty.

5 Action Steps to Slow Down Your Blogging

Does this slow blogging thing sound attractive to you? Would you like to dip your toe in the proverbial water?

Here’s 5 action steps you can take:

1. Commit to posting less frequently. If you currently post every day, try cutting back to 2-3 days a week. Less, if you feel brave. Then give it a month and judge your community’s reaction.

2. Limit social media to 10 minutes per outlet per day. Use programs like HootSuite or Buffer to automate some of your output. And only get online if you would like to, not out of obligation. The world will keep turning if you avoid Twitter for a day.

3. Simplify your writing process. Be it with a pen and paper or a simple writing app, commit to keeping your notes, outlines and drafts in one place. Keep it simple.

4. Commit to writing one longer, well-thought out piece per week/fortnight/month. Depending on your topic, this could mean spending 5-15 hours on one post. Publish and promote it, then judge the reaction of your readers.

5. Ask yourself before hitting Publish, “Is this truly helpful to my readers? Will they care? Do I care?” In other words, only post when you have something real to say.

While the Slow Blogging movement has its foundation in the minimalism and simple living niches, it can apply to a huge range of topics.

The following sites all apply elements of slow blogging, and all are very successful:

So before you cast this movement aside as not being for you, simply ask yourself if you’d benefit from a more engaged community, more readers and more popular content. Then see if there are elements of slow blogging you could incorporate into your work.

Do you already incorporate some of the elements of slow blogging to your work? Would you like to? Share with us in the comments below.

Brooke McAlary is the founder of Slow Your Home and the creator of the insanely helpful Slow Home BootCamp - where she helps you create the simpler life you want. She is also a passionate writer, blissful gardener and siesta advocate. 

Magic 5-Step Plan To Writing a Post That Will Easily Win Pulitzer Prize

This is a guest contribution by Tim Soulo.

I bet the next sentence will totally blow your mind!

Ready?

Though… I think a bit of preparation wouldn’t hurt. No really, when I told this to my friend the other day he had a heart attack and I had to drive him to the hospital (he’s ok now btw).

But you just have to know that! This is probably the most important piece of advice in your whole career.

So read along…

1. The Power of The Post Opener

Ok. I was bluffing, I’m sorry. I don’t have a “sentence that will blow your mind”. But did you even notice how easily you got involved into reading this post and how intrigued you were to know what’s going to happen next?

If you look at the very first sentence of this post, it’s sole purpose is to make you read the next one. But the next one doesn’t answer the question I’ve planted in your head (“what will blow my mind?”), it just adds more drama to keep you intrigued and make you read even further.

This kind of “post opener” follows the well known AIDA formula: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

  • My first sentence got your Attention.
  • The story about a friend that got heart attack got you Interested.
  • The statement “you have to know that” played with your Desire.
  • And I invited you to take Action by offering to “read along”.

But what’s the point of going an extra mile to make your post opener intriguing and catchy? Actually there are quite enough reasons for that:

  • If a person opens your post, this doesn’t mean he will read it. Your post opener helps him to make the decision if he wants to read this post or not;
  • Generally people don’t want to read, they just want to consume some valuable information. If you fail to present it in an entertaining and engaging way someone else might win their attention;
  • We’re easily distracted: an email or tweet or maybe a phone call can easily steal our attention and make us forget about the post we were reading. So your opener should be good enough to make people ignore everything else until they finish it.

2. Who Needs An Opener When The Headline is Poor?

You have the best opener in the world, but what if noone will ever see it? Why?

Because your headline isn’t good enough!

My RSS reader pretty much illustrates the point:

Tim Soulo's google reader screen of headlines

Same thing with updates on Twitter or Facebook or search listings in Google ­ in every case the headline is what you see first.

Headline is the most important part of your post. Literally. So make sure it’s compelling enough to steal person’s attention.

There are plenty of good tips and techniques to writing powerful headlines, but I think if you master this single document ­ “Headline Hacks” ­ your headlines will rock!

3. Subheadings are Headline’s Best Friends

Subheadings are not only used to improve the structure of your post, but they actually improve the chances of the post to actually get read.

And here’s how.

Many of us (including myself) will always skim through the post quickly in order to determine how big it is, how much time it will take to read it and how valuable it is for us. In case your post is just a since chunk of text and there’s nothing that catches the eye and gives you an idea of what the post is about ­ most people won’t risk their time to read it.

By using interesting and compelling subheadings you’re drastically increasing the chances of your post to be read.

4. Your Post Structure And Styling May Cost You Readers Too

Let’s keep talking about the “phenomenon” of skimming the post before reading it. What else might catch the eye?

  • Pictures? ­Absolutely!
  • Numbered (or unnumbered) lists? ­Definitely!
  • Text in bold or italic? ­Pretty much.
  • Quotations? ­Yeah, why not.

Everything that’s different from the common paragraph of text might get person’s attention and make him quickly read this part. Don’t be afraid to use photos, graphics, videos or anything else along these lines.

Take a look at my post and see which of these things I’ve already used and if they fit naturally and really help you (as a reader) to consume information.

And by the way, make sure your paragraphs of text are not bigger than 3-­4 sentences, because most people have have some hidden psychological fear of huge chunks of text and they just won’t read them.

All in all, usage of all these things inevitably leads to improving the logical structure of your post. Subheadings alone mean that the article is not just a random flow of thought, but it’s actually structured into certain logical parts, which makes it a lot easier to comprehend it.

BONUS TIP: Try to always add captions for the images. Studies show that 80% of people who are skimming through the post will read the image captions.

5. All of The Above Is Useless Without Research

We love to think that we have enough knowledge in our heads to produce compelling content which others will find interesting and valuable. Yet quite often we’re awfully wrong.

To prove my point I invite you to google the hell out of the next topic that you’re going to write about and see yourself if there’s anything you didn’t know. And besides, if it so happens that there are tons of posts on the topic already listing the same thoughts and ideas you were about to write… ­ maybe the world doesn’t need yet another one?

But if you’re confident that you can do a much better post than any of those already there ­ go for it, my friend! And make sure you send me the link once it’s published for I want to read that!

One last thing I love about a thorough research ­ it makes your brain work! I don’t remember where I heard this advice first, yet it works for me so damn good:

When you need to generate some fresh ideas or uncanny solutions ­ go read all you can on the topic and then do something else and let your brain rest and slowly digest all the information you’ve just consumed. Sooner or later a great idea will strike you out of nowhere! Believe me, this really works!

The Topic Is Exhausted? Talk To Your Readers!

Don’t know about you, but I write articles with a sole purpose of communicating to people. And I love when the communication goes both ways for otherwise I might as well just bury the article on my hard drive once I’m done writing it.

I’m sure you guys have something to say about this very post. So speak out! I’ll be glad to continue the conversation in comments.

Tim Soulo is a blogging experimenter and conversion junkie. He is passionate about discovering new marketing ideas and sharing them with his readers. Why don’t you visit his personal blog at BloggerJet.com and take his free email course on boosting your traffic.

How to Deal with a Firestorm of Controversy on Your Blog (Before it Suffocates You)

This is a guest contribution from Sherice Jacob.

You’ve just hit Publish. You don’t know what will happen from here, but at the moment, you feel relieved. You’ve just written one of the most controversial, eye-opening, highly-polarizing posts on your blog. You know it’s ripe for debate and there are going to be readers who take your perspective personally – as if you secretly wrote it for – and about – them.

Some bloggers will tell you that controversy is one of the best possible angles you can take on your blog. And for some people, it is. For others, it can be a disastrous downward spiral – but one thing is certain, people will love it, either way.

Case in point, the social meltdown that occurred on the Amy’s Bakery Facebook page after the company was featured on chef Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. Chef Ramsay actually quit the episode because the proprietors refused to listen to him. That, coupled with thousands of comments from users on Reddit and Yelp added fuel to the fire. The husband-and-wife team leapt into the fray, alternating between defending themselves and cursing out the posters.

It was the perfect example of how NOT to handle controversy and criticism. 

It’s also worth mentioning that consequently, their page went from 2,500 likes on Facebook, to over 50,000. It’s doubtful that people liked the company as much as they liked the drama.

Why We Secretly Both Love and Hate Controversy

On the whole, we like to play it safe. Even as young children, we’re taught not to “ruffle any feathers” and to use our “indoor voices”.

But a good controversy demands that we draw a line in the sand and dare others to cross it. If you’ve got a topic so heartfelt and genuine that you just have to share it – do it. One post that’s near and dear to you will be worth more to your readers than ten “safe” posts.

The fact is, no one knows the topic like you do. Considering that you’re not riling up readers just to touch a nerve, and that you truly do value and believe in what you have to share – then you’ve already laid the groundwork for a good controversial post that makes a point while remaining open to discussion.

You Don’t Need to Seek Out Their Approval

While it’s nice to have readers in your corner vouching for your perspective – you don’t need to actively seek out their approval.

Nothing makes a blogger look weaker than stating their point and then chasing it up with “Am I right, guys? Am I right?” By the same token, don’t do a complete 180 degree shift and play the victim card. Hand-wringing and taking everything personally just gives the criticizers more reason to keep attacking you and your post.  Sadly, some people do this as a form of entertainment.

Know when to respond, when to walk away, and when to learn from your actions (and yes, you can do all three of these based on the comments in your post!)

  • If you’ve made your point as clearly and accurately as possible, you’ve done what you set out to do.
  • If you’ve made some mistakes, take a step back, acknowledge the errors and make corrections

Above all, don’t attack the commenters for posting their point of view, like the bakery company did. They simultaneously managed to proclaim their goodness, lash out at posters and play the victim card all at once.

Don’t Turn Your Audience into Mashed Potatoes

Know what bloggers and mashed potatoes tend to have in common? Lumps.

In that, as bloggers, we’ve been preached to so much about personas and demographics that we tend to lump all our readers together in terms of likes/dislikes/interests/lifestyles. Like MMO computer games?  Then you must be a level 60 basement-dwelling, cheeto-stained neckbeard!

Wrong.

Resist the urge to lump your audience together into neatly organized stereotypes and they’ll be a lot more forgiving of your observations (even if they disagree with them). Every user has a unique perspective, so making generalized statements toward a group, a product or a person is sure to inflame the others who don’t match that generalization, and resent being pigeon-holed into that group.

Agree to Disagree

Remember above all, that this is your blog. You can answer questions, post responses and make corrections on your own terms. Keep the discussion on track and resist the urge to give in to commenters who interrupt or veer off topic.  Stay focused and agree to disagree.  Who knows? Maybe after making your first controversial post, you can follow up with a “What I’ve Learned” lesson.

Above all, resist the urge to delete the post and censor the comments. Blogs are not a one-way street.

Your true readers will follow you to the ends of the earth and back, even if they don’t agree with you. And that’s what makes a controversial post so rewarding.

Want to improve your blog, but don’t know where to start?  Sherice Jacob offers comprehensive blog reviews with an emphasis on getting you more subscribers, more traffic and more sales. Learn more at iElectrify.com