The Anatomy Of A Great Blog Post

A few days ago, we had a post about what the elements are in a great web page. Today, let’s tackle what elements constitute the perfect or near-perfect blog post.

So how can we create a great post? This is scary stuff because there’s so much pressure in blogging about and giving writers’ tips on perfect blogging.

Here are elements that make up a really great blog post:

1. The perfect headline

You need to learn how to write headlines that turn readers’ heads and want to take in all of your content. According to a Copyblogger stat, 8 out of 10 people will read headline but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of the content. Your headlines (at least) must:

  • Be specific – This means it should include genuine information so readers get an idea of what they’re about to read.
  • Be useful – Your headline goes straight to the problem.
  • Create a sense of need – The reader wants his questions answered, your headline tells him they will be answered, just read on.

2. The perfect body

The body consists of these:

  • Introduction – It starts off with a bang of an introduction and that makes readers keep reading. One of the best writers’ tips for an introduction is telling a personal story or an anecdote of an influencer. This will make your introduction seem genuine.
  • Paragraphs – These give structure to your blog post and make it readable. Each paragraph should have a subheading (H2 or H3).
  • Written content – Take time to craft a post that is really of high quality and is well-researched. You can use Buzzsumo to give you the best resources and influencers, stats of articles or just plain topics for your posts.
  • Relevant visuals – They provide great value to your content. Blog Pros concluded that the best posts have an average of 3.2 images. Just credit your images and other multi-media content with the proper links.

2. The perfect length

According to SerpIQ, posts with more than 2,000 words perform the best. So the more word counts equates to better search traffic.

3. The perfect conclusion and call to action

Wrap it up nicely. Like a great gift, your blog post must have something of great value for your readers. Your conclusion will make them realize how valuable your post was and useful in the future, just like the perfect gift. To complete your post, inspire them to a subtle call-to-action. Then maybe give them a little bonus.

4. A few additions

  • You should optimize your post both for desktop and mobile platforms.
  • Promote your blog post through social shares. It has the potential to make your post reach more people. Have a “Click to Tweet” button or a Facebook share button ready for the lazy ones.

Use these writers’ tips

Remember, it is you who measure perfection. The perfect formula may not be the same for all but there is compelling content in all. Use these writers’ tips for creating one heck of a blog post. Then sit back, relax and wait for the results to come trickling in.

Writers’ Tips: The Anatomy of a Great Web Page

Content writers always want their written masterpieces to be read from start to finish. If readers come to the webpage but don’t stay long enough and navigate through the page to read what they’ve written, it can be disheartening. Webpage creation and management is indeed an arduous task. What then is the anatomy of a great webpage?

While it is impossible to create the perfect one (where readers will want to visit, share, react to again and again) there are some things you can do to make it near-perfect. Here are writers’ tips on the anatomy of a great webpage.

Loading time

Internet speeds have improved so you must make sure your webpage loads fast. Remember, your visitors are impatient and their attention spans are short. You can always use a page speed checker like Google’s PageSpeed Tools. From there, you can work on improving page speed for desktop and mobile users.

Navigation

It is the first thing visitors observe about your site. How easy was it to go from page to page to find what they want in your site? Did they feel lost or that they’ve visited the wrong page? In other words, was it a waste of their time? Difficult or confusing navigation within your site will make them leave.

Clear readability

Once your readers are hooked by something on your site, they now want to explore. How do you keep them glued? Start by having a clear layout. What they were there for should be understandable and readily available the minute they land on your page. Some consider typography a big deal in keeping readers. Typography doesn’t only involve the fonts, but also the color, sizing, paragraph margins, line heights, kerning, etc.

Graphics design and color

No one wants to be overloaded with information. Sometimes, the webpage’s beautiful design is what’s making visitors come in, stay, keep reading and come back for more. The design involves layout, white space and a harmony between message and design. Also, not all visitors will react the same way with certain colors. Use colors properly for your target audience. For example, if you target women, you may use blue or green. Plan your color scheme choices properly because colors have different meanings and symbols to different people.

Content

It’s King after all. A great webpage has great content because it gives the answers to visitors’ questions and it anticipates potential questions of visitors. Do this to avoid frustrated visitors. Mediocre content will waste customers’ precious time. Too many topics will confuse them. Also, keep in mind correct grammar, tone, punctuation, etc. Use the proper calls to action and other vital information.

With very engaging, informative and unique content, you distance yourself from the rest and you gain attention. Visitors want to know that your site is reliable and trust-worthy, user-friendly and credible. And content plays a major role.

Writers’ tips

These are pointers that content writers and webpage designers must use together. Be patient and don’t rush a good webpage. Always respect your readers by giving them a site with beautiful elements and honest content. In return they will reward your webpage by trusting it, returning to it, sharing it and eventually buying the products in it.

Now that for sure is worth the wait.

7 Editor’s Secrets To Help You Write Like A Pro

Writers make mistakes. You’re only human. But no one submits their first draft without proofreading it a couple of times. That being said, editors can often spot the most common mistakes made by a majority of writers.

A full-time professional writer is aware of these common mistakes that are readily spotted by editors and ensures they are avoided while proofreading. Fortunately, this list of useful tips for writers who want to write like a pro will take your editing skills to the next level:

  1. Get rid of those comma-heavy sentences

If you’ve used more than two commas in a sentence, then it’s time to break it down into two sentences. Long sentences are good, but readers usually lose interest or focus in what you’re saying by the end of it. Shorter sentences are more impactful.

  1. Make contractions your best friend

Isn’t it easier to read this sentence is better than is it not easier to read this sentence? Contractions make your blog reader-friendly and add a conversational tone to it. Plus, it gives the feeling that you’re talking to your reader rather than coming across as a know-it-all. And nobody likes a know-it-all.

  1. Use one voice and stick to it

If you’ve started penning your copy in the second person then remember to stick to it till the end. It’s confusing for readers if you start with “I” and halfway through switch to “you” and “your.”

  1. Avoid using fancy words and jargon

You may want to flaunt your vocabulary by using fancy words but it doesn’t help readers understand what you’re saying. Perhaps one of the most useful tips for writers is this: If someone needs to grab a dictionary to understand your blog, then you’ve lost them. If you can’t find a simpler word for describing something, use a thesaurus.

It’s important to avoid using fancy words because it confuses readers sounds better than it’s pertinent to avoid using extensive terminology in text because it disorients readers.

However, sometimes it’s necessary to use jargon especially if you’re writing a technical article. But if you’re writing a simple blog, article or story, stick to simple words.

  1. Cut down on prepositions

Prepositions make content lengthier. It’s better to use direct words rather than of, in, at, to or for. For example – The father of the bride can be changed to the bride’s father.

  1. Remove very, actually, really and honestly

Do you really need to use such terms when you actually don’t need to? Cutting down on these three words can tighten your copy and make it more powerful. These words sound good in conversations but not so good in the written form.

  1. Use active voice

This is one of the most useful tips for writers. Sentences in passive voice aren’t the best way to express your thoughts. Active voice emphasizes the subject and the action rather than the object. When a subject takes a direct action, the sentence is much more appealing to readers.

For example, shots were fired on Maine Street sounds vague but robbers fired shots on Maine Street sounds clearer. Jack married Jill reads better than Jill got married.

To summarize, professional writers search for common mistakes during the proofreading process that make copy clean, crisp and clear. These common mistakes include removing long sentences, using contractions over the expanded form of the words, sticking to one voice, avoiding the use of fancy words, cutting down on prepositions, eliminating redundant words and using the active voice. Now go ahead and write like a pro.

How To Succeed In Writing When You’re Not An Expert In Anything

Niche writers are highly sought after by publications and it’s no secret that businesses are willing to shelve more cash for copywriters who have an authority in their field of expertise than someone who has no clue about what they’re writing.

Wouldn’t you rather hire a writer a retired nurse for a healthcare blog than someone who has no idea about the healthcare system?

Actually, it’s not always the case. Here’s the secret to succeeding in writing when you aren’t an expert in anything: You don’t have to be an expert in anything to succeed in writing. The only skill you need to succeed as a writer is your writing skill. That’s something no one can teach you.

That being said, there are lots of things you can do that will help you succeed in writing when you have zero expertise in any field. Here are some useful tips for writers:

Research, research and more research

Two things will help you become an awesome writer: Your writing skill and lots of research. It’s okay if you don’t know anything about the topic you’re writing. You just need to do ample research and talk to experts in the field. Google is a wonderful tool that can be used to read about any subject. Read articles, blogs and opinionated articles. Then, contact experts in the field to ask for their point of view. In no time, you’ll be able to write an elaborate, well-thought out article.

Similarly, you don’t need to have a college degree in psychology to write about Maslow’s theory of self-actualization or work in finance to pen a blog about mutual funds.

Become a Jack of all trades

I’ve seen several writers who write blogs on varied topics. They aren’t niche writers; they just juggle countless subjects with ease. In fact, this is a good strategy because it enables you to be open to writing about any subject. Would you rather be a Jack of all trades or a master of one?

Being a master in one field is good, but being a Jack of all trades is even better when it comes to the world of freelance writing. One of the most useful tips for writers I’ve come across is to be an expert in multiple fields rather than just one. It increases your employability in a fiercely competitive market.

Sometimes it’s better not to be an expert

To be honest, most editors aren’t willing to hire experts because they are awful writers. Think about it. A veterinary doctor may not necessarily be adept at penning an engaging, reader-friendly and crisp article about veterinary medicine. On the other hand, a writer with little veterinary medicine knowledge may have the writing skills to create an interesting and helpful article.

This is especially true for editors seeking writers to explain how to do something, simplifying complex jargons and giving tips on a subject.

Keep writing on topics you like or know a little about

If you do want to be a bona fide expert in a field, one of the most useful tips for writers that I’ve come across is to write on topics you like or know a little about. Have you ever bought a house? You can certainly write real estate articles. Like sprucing up a room’s décor? You can certainly pen a blog about popular bedsheet designs.

The more you write about something, the more you become an expert in that field.

5 Market Research Tips You Can Use On The Fly

Here at The Content Fair, we’re all about helping the freelance writer. Whether you’re struggling to make a career out of your God-given talent for writing or you’re already at a level each writer wants to be in, you could always use a little bit of help here and there.

When I decided to become a full-time I was picky with whom I wanted to work with. But then later, I had to swallow my pride and accept what was given to me by my editor. Now I’m happy and content. But what about the millions out there wishing they could be on their own and be sought after by companies waiting for get their hands on their writing.

So are you now are at that level of having a few followers and you’re kinda-sorta sought after but don’t know how to stand out? The key is to do some market research. I know the word “research” is probably one of the most dreaded or feared word. But you have to do it, be good at it, and in fact, love it to keep your dream clients happy.

Here are a few tips on how to at least stay afloat with the market.

Remember some basics

By understanding who your customers are will give you a clearer path on how to reach them. Start with the basics by gathering data. If you create buyer personas within your niches, you could get a wealth of information. Use the U.S. Census Bureau for data by age, business, profession, city, state, etc.

Then you could find out where they are most active online – reading blogs, interacting in forums, commenting on Facebook or YouTube views.

Going online

Google is the most popular search engine in the world. But if you want to see just how popular a topic is in searches by region or area, you should use Google Trends.

This is perfect for small businesses to find out local interest on their product or service. It even ranks by city.

Another great tool called BuzzSumo can be used to dig up what your competitors are publishing and what is being shared the most. Big businesses can also get information on theirs and their competitors’ brand health and compare data and see what areas need to be addressed. See what campaigns are working for them and know what you can do to emulate them.

Keyword research tools to use

What are searchers really doing in Google or Bing? They’re all searching for something. If you could take a peek into what it really is they’re looking for and then write that killer paper that they so need. Wouldn’t that be an awesome superpower?

Understand what keyword phrases people are looking for then create your content. Some great sites to help you are Answer the Public and Seed Keywords. They work similarly in helping you create topics or give you content ideas.

Want to know what important keywords are being used in a competitor’s web page? Use  Tag Crowd and it will show you keywords by importance.

Engaging in communities

You may not agree but the best advice, opinions, advocacies, interests and just about anything a person has to offer can be found in online communities. It’s a great source of information for your market research if you just engage the right people with the right topics. If you want writing advice, there are lots of forums with your specific problem. And the best part of being in an online group is, each one is craving to be heard and eager to help.

Using feedback from customer reviews

Getting feedback isn’t just about asking how satisfied a customer is. It’s actually more than that. By collecting feedback you’re gaining new customers’ trust, you’re fixing a problem or you’re opening up to new ideas from your customers.

Your customers’ reviews can be used as testimonials especially those that are specific about a certain service or a special feature of your product. Don’t use the generic types like “Great product!” or “Good service.” They offer no help in decision making.

Reviews offer more than just insight to how you can improve your product. This is why curious customers always read reviews and recommendations before even considering a purchase. By reading the reviews, a writer can get into what the customer is trying to say, and feel his emotions as he explains his dilemma or his delight. It’s a view not often seen by writers as a content helper but it can be an emotion-grabber because you know where his exact sentiments lie.

Think of market research as a serious investment into your freelance writing future. Remember, research is a never-ending learning process. A decade ago, doing market research to better understand your target audience and current readers was such a difficult and expensive task. Take advantage of what simple things you can do online to get so much valuable information about your cherished brand and their beloved customers.

How To Write for Millennial Audiences-Keep Them Engaged

MILLENNIALS – it’s a word that’s heard all over the Internet, print media, movies and television. But who really are these Millennials? Is there a Millennial in your family? There are differing classifications though. Some say they are born in the 80s and 90s. That would make them in their 20s to 30s now. Who knows what the exact age range is? What’s important for writers (be it you’re a Millennial yourself or not), is to be able to reach out to them, make them engaged in your content and keep them coming back.

Writing for Millennials may not be an easy task but the key to making it manageable is getting to know who they are. If you want to reach out to them emotionally, you need to understand what they hold valuable and where they are coming from. What makes them tick? Are they really one in their thoughts and actions? Or is this just one great big marketing speak aimed at 80 million prospective followers?

Do they even read at all?

There is evidence though showing that Millennials DO read. They read more news today than about a decade ago. And they spend about 50 minutes a day reading their interests. But what they read are probably not what you’d expect a normal Gen-X working class hero would read. Here is where writers must draw the line between writing for Millennials and writing for the rest of the world.

The now-famous “attention span”

A Gen X-er once said that the attention span of a Millennial is 140 characters or less. Which is probably true so don’t blow the chance of grabbing their attention in that wee little bit of space. This digital generation is bombarded with content and they have a selective and discriminating taste for what appeals to them. It’s like they’re afraid of missing out on the next big thing and won’t be in on it because of the overwhelming flow of content to take in. Their click-happy, devil-may-care and skeptical attitude towards life and reading in general are what makes them a tough crowd to please! And we, writers love them for it. Well, challenge accepted!

They read differently

Millennials read for information and entertainment. They read for a purpose. If it can’t inform, no thank you! If it can’t entertain, move on to the next. If it’s both informative and entertaining, no universal force can get their glued eyes unglued – even if comes once in a blue moon.

But why does it happen few and far between? Because these Millennials have acquired a skill that no other pre-Millennial generation has done before: scanning. They scan a lot of information and blogs quickly and can perceive what may or may not be worth reading. These Millennials had digital technology shoved up their consciousness right from birth. Their visual skills were due mainly to being exposed very early to computers, internet, gaming consoles and smartphones. Plus every bit of visually attracting things like television, movies and print media. In short, Gen-Y (as Millennials are also called), was practically raised in a truly visual world.

What writers can do

  • Be up-to-date as possible – This is probably one of the most important aspects of writing for a Millennial audience. You have to be the first one out and must be able to discern which ones have intellectual depth and which ones are just downright shallow.
  • If it’s deep enough – Then move on to the point lest we lose our superstar’s interest. Get to the point as clearly as possible. If you don’t have a point, maybe you can write for next week’s post.
  • Have a clear message – If your advocacy is making the world a better place then have a consistent voice each time you write. Millennials may not be into the “we-have-a-voice” level yet but it’s never too early to get them involved. Whether you write about scandals, celebrities, politics or whatever injustices you feel, the message is clear – it’s not good but it can still get better.
  • Make them relate – The internet is very interactive – something Millennials like doing. Be entertaining but at the same time, invoke an emotional response to get them to relate to your subject.
  • Be unique – You don’t have to follow the norm, sometimes weird is kinda cool. It can be entertaining while drawing attention. So be weird and unique. Some of the best stories have a certain touch of unique weirdness. And Millennials identify with the awkward and the weird.

Conclusion

If we can understand what kinds of information these Millennials are seeking, then writers can fully grasp at ways on engaging them. And it’s not difficult to find out what these are: trending topics, keywords, and other tools will help you know what they are looking for.

It may be amazing to discover that Millennials are capable of consuming an endless amount of visual information all at once. If it doesn’t have these two criteria: attractive and easily digestible, then it won’t be appealing. Therefore, writers must not just be good at what they do, but are also good designers of content. While the older generations seem not too particular at a page’s design and focus more on the information, the Gen-Y-ers are more in-sync with how information is presented on a page – and it’s the information they need – no more, no less.

If you can incorporate a unique and current voice that’s relevant, funny, witty and controversial all at the same time, then you could just have what it takes to write for Millennials. Join our content writing agency at Iris Content and be heard!

 

How To Find That Elusive 1% Inspiration

A graphic designer friend of mine told me that she uses Pinterest to find design inspiration. I said, but there’s so much stuff in there, it’s chaotic! She said, that’s how I find it. In a world of chaos, I will find something that jumps at me!

Isn’t that a stark contrast to authors and famous writers who find inspiration in peace and tranquility, in surreal and serene scenarios?

Well, if you ask the muses, they will probably say inspiration can come from even the most unimaginable sources. Including Pinterest which I call an organized chaos, actually.

Jack London said it perfectly: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club!” For me that means, with full gusto and armed with an open heart.

Still stuck

But what if you’re really stuck in a rut and you can’t seem to channel your inner muse? What then? We all have to start somewhere. If your neurons aren’t getting wired too tightly, look into this writers’ tips list of inspiration sources. These have worked wonders for some of the best ones out there, hopefully, you included!

  • Stare at something blue or green

Let me go scientific on this. It may sound funny but research says that blue and green are the best colors to influence creativity. Maybe because the sky is blue and green means growth.

  • Try laughing

A positive mood can construct a background for creativity. Try it! I’m hysterical now and see how far I’ve gotten!

  • Meditating really helps

Try a relaxing moment where you just shut out and shut down everything. Even the purring of your hard drive should be off. And just listen to the silence.

  • Create something with your hands

Our fingers are so used to typing, it could use a little bit of knitting perhaps, or clay molding. This activity is a welcome distraction for a while. It doesn’t need thinking so you are refreshing your gray matter.

  • Spend time outside

Go for a swim, take a hike or go camping under the stars. The fresh air will relieve you and feed your spark box.

  • Do some heavy exercise

A quick jog around the block or about 35 hits to a punching bag – anything that will strengthen and flex your muscles will free your brain of activity. After a hearty sweat, you develop a certain sense of purpose.

  • Change places

If you have the capability and time, go abroad and look at the new cultures you will find. Creativity can come from intercultural experiences. Those immersion groups are always a good source of inspiration and a sense of awe.

  • Make a stash

Create your own storage of all your ideas, feelings, observations, worries, hopes and impressions. Or just about anything that comes to your mind. Don’t we all wish we could just download our instant thoughts so that they never get lost? (I heard Elon Musk is already developing this). These ideas will be useful someday for scenarios or characters.

  • What activity excites you

What tickles your fancy or stirs up your emotions? Old habits can make you recall something from the past that inspired you. It could be something very normal or it could be something really weird. Dan Brown (author of Da Vinci Code), would find inspiration by hanging upside down. He says it helps him relax. Charles Dickens couldn’t write if his hair was out of place so he constantly ran a comb through his hair. I can imagine how relaxing that is.

  • Get some sleep

Get some shut-eye and wake up fresh. Believe that the next day will bring in fresher ideas after a good night’s sleep and it will happen.

  • Your muse will come

I can tell you a thousand reasons NOT to start writing, but start anyway. In one of those lines, your muse will appear by your side leading you on. Why? Because you never stopped looking for inspiration even without her.

It’s all about emotions

These are some great writers’ tips. But one should never write uninspired. There is no audience at all for uninspired writing. Because then, there won’t be any emotions involved. And it is exactly those emotions that can be transmitted from author to reader.

Thomas Edison said that genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. Still, you can’t have a hundred percent without that fleeting bit of 1% inspiration. So put on those positive jeans, flex those creative metacarpal bones, don your thinking-cap-cum-light-bulb and start writing! Remember, if it doesn’t give you pleasure, it’s not worth writing.