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Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

When I started out, there was one thing that I desperately wanted. I was dying for it and yet nobody would give it to me.

An honest opinion. On my blog.

What do you think of it? I kept on asking but didn’t get anywhere.

I needed it sooo badly and yet I couldn’t get it from someone who knew what they were talking about. UNLESS I was prepared to pay hundreds of dollars for a critique.

Well, when you start  out, you don’t know what you are doing, you don’t know how long you will be doing it for, and you are NOT prepared to spend any amount upwards of $2.00 on it. YET

So allow me to help you guys out. If you want some feedback on your blog – FREE – and real feedback – practical tips that can improve how your blog looks, feels and behaves (get more comments and traffic), then go to my new blog Writing Happiness and leave a comment under the top post titled Need a mini critique for your blog? Here’s how you can get one – for FREE.

And I will respond – that’s a promise. And I will be friendly, n positive yet give you some advice that will help.

If nothing else, you will get some perspective from a reader – who reads many, many blogs – me! :)

See you there folks!

My apologies to if you have already subscribed to Writing Happiness. This is the first and the last duplicate post from my side guys.
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Does your blog make you feel good? 

If your answer is yes, chances are it is extending that wonderful feeling to your readers as well. Feeling good is a bit like yawning, you can’t do it without affecting others. Its contagious. So is being miserable in your writing. Writing a constructive rant is one thing but nobody wants to read stuff that brings everyone down, all the time. 

What kind of blogger would you rather be? Positive and inspiring others, or a whiny one. Nobody likes whingers, at least that’s what I notice around me. And that’s what I teach my kids too.

I am a huge fan of those bloggers who can put a positive spin on just about anything.  It is my utmost pleasure to read what they have to say. You read these people and you feel like you can do anything. They give you that extra something you need from your reading – something to tell you it’s all going to work out in the end. 

You can write like that too. 

You don’t have to be the world’s most optimistic person. You just have to be human. 

Be HAPPY

Have a cheerful disposition in real life? When people see you, does it put a smile on their faces or do they think ..uh oh. 

Being a joyful person that you are, let your blog posts reflect that. I am not suggesting that we all need to only write about the good things, after all what’s the purpose of having a blog where you can’t let loose and do an occasional rant. But really, there is a lot of misery in real life, much gloom and doom. Talk about that if you must, but it pays if people leave your blog feeling much better. 

Be HELPFUL

Your blog has to do either one of two things, either it entertains or it helps. 

Make your writing useful. Provide some value to your readers. When you provide genuine help to your readers, they see it’s not all about you. Yes, it’s all about your writing but for what? Feel better about yourself or some other higher purpose. 

I write to help myself and .. others. 

Educate yourself by helping others. In helping others lies your sense of achievement and pride. Do your part. 

Be HUMOROUS

There is nothing sadder than not being able to laugh at oneself or to not see the lighter side of things. It’s truly amazing what laughter can do to brighten up a room, how it lifts everybody’s spirits. 

Laughter is generosity. It means you are interacting in a way that is neither judgemental, nor serious. People love it when there is unexpected humour amongst all the serious stuff. It’s like the icing on the cake for me. 

When you write lightly, it means you encourage others to look at things in a new perspective. All of a sudden, things seem better and it keeps everything in perspective. 

Be HOPEFUL

It keeps everyone going. 

I am sure everyone has those days when everything seems to take a turn for the worst. Nothing goes according to plan and after few such days, it’s quite easy to start questioning the purpose of it all. It’s a state of depression and it strikes us all. I too suffer from it and in those days you don’t even know what hope looks like. On that day I long to find something that offers hope, something that reminds me why I am doing it all. Could your blog do this for your readers?

Share your successes with your readers. People love a happy ending. 

Share your hard lessons you learnt. People love you when you refuse to stay down and show them how to come out smiling. 

Do you have any stories to tell? You will find many listeners. Be positive. Be that blogger. 

Be HUMAN

Show your human side. Make people relate to you. They like hearing a human voice, something that is real, honest and well… just human. 

Be human, be yourself and all will be well. 

   On a day when I am following my H religion, nobody is more successful on the planet than me. There is nothing that I cannot achieve. On a day like this, I want to write a post like this and share it with everybody

  Not everyday is like that, and sometimes I don’t get to meet all things H for many days. One those days it’s impossible to write a cheerful post. On those days, I look forward to reading all other bloggers who are humorous and help out others by reminding us that there is always hope. They remind us that this is all part of being human. And we are happy.

Join my circle of happiness, and become a part of my ‘happy’ blog. Subscribe now. :)

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Somebody asked me the other day, how long have you been blogging for? 

I am thinking they were trying to suss me out, to see if I have got enough experience to be dishing any kind of advice – much less blogging advice. 

My answer? A couple of months of actual writing – and 3 decades of building up to it

This is my story. 

Totally unimpressive highlights of my life, that have been totally significant to me – in terms of work, life and successes. 

My father was once in charge of a local library, he was actually a Naval officer at that time, and he had the coolest job on the earth. His job description meant that he would visit local stores and select books to be purchased for the library. He would also take his eldest daughter along, to pick all the books she liked for the children’s section. She was about 5 at that time. She also happened to be me! 

This gave rise to a major obsession with books, reading and life long learning. I remember sitting with books piled high and reading well into the night.  

As I got a little older, I started doing what every little girl did. Writing stories, pages and pages of them, which eventually turned into boxes. Not everybody does that? See, I didn’t know that. I wrote, and I wrote … and I never thought of making a big deal out of it. 

I ‘published’ children’s magazines from home and got everybody to read them and give cool testimonials on the back. I still have them. 

I started a library (of everything I owned) from home and kids from places far away – well not that far – came and borrowed books. A budding entrepreneur I was even then. Too bad, once when we were away, my library got broken into and more than half of my precious babies were taken away. I don’t know how long I cried for – then I closed my library. I was barely 13 then, I think.

And I wrote for every school and college magazine who would print my work. 

Two things were very, very important to me.

To learn about things, and to share them with other people, be it through creating own magazines, opening up a library, or writing for the local magazines. 

And then the magical world of web 2.0 was born – and I was hooked – for life

Nobody could drag me away from the online communities, forums and any place with the word ‘interactive’ in it. I was a participator in it all. 

I was lapping it up like my life depended on it. 

I was studying, writing, teaching – both online and in my real world. I did post-graduate studies in Law, Marketing, and Education. All the jobs I held had a teaching and a writing component. I couldn’t do it any other way. 

And all this while I did not think that I had to say something important to people like you and me.

And now I do. 

I have found a place. I love it when kindred spirits come my way and decide to stay.

I am building a community of people who are passionate about life, have a desire and will to succeed at whatever has caught their eye. They are full of integrity, and best of all they want to blog about it all. 

Welcome to my tribe

Here you would not find money hungry people, but people who want to work hard, and ethically to earn their living – and get rich. Whatever being rich means to them.

You would not see people who are all about the gimmicks, and about following the ‘in crowd’ hoping to cash on their successes.

Here are people who want to have a life with a purpose, and live mind fully. 

We all need such a place to hang out. Learn, share, blog

Welcome to WRITING happiness!

I am writing for your success.

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What is your biggest excuse to not post regularly? Bet I know what you’re going to say. 

What keeps you from actually writing something down? As soon you plonk yourself before your computer, what happens? 

Is it lack of time? 

Really? 

Well, funny I have the same complaint as well. And so do the hundreds of bloggers. Few lucky ones don’t. How do they do it? Well, the reason is very simple. They don’t get distracted. Heard this before? Don’t know why it doesn’t REALLY click in. It did for me yesterday. 

At my house, I had a fuse blown for more about two hours or so. I couldn’t turn the TV on, receive any calls and access the internet (which was probably the hardest). I went offline – and I went invisible.

So I sat down and wrote- and wrote- and wrote. 

We can see what had happened. There is a reason why I was able to do exactly what I wanted to do and even a bit more.

I was NOT distracted. 

I did not start my day by checking my email first. Believe me when I say this, nothing happened when I didn’t check my email in the morning. The world didn’t stop. The sun did come out a usual.

I did not spend hours looking at other blogs, and commenting on different posts. Thats all good but if I do that, then I am not working on my own blog. 

I did not have a quick look at my facebook. Now, I have only few close friends and family on my personal account, even that takes me away from work. A quick message here and there, maybe I’ll write a long overdue email to someone who just posted a quick update to their status. Hang on, might as well watch that youtube video while I am here. You get the idea.

I did not log on to twitter. I did not see who started following me, therefore, I was not enticed to click on their profiles, which could lead to looking at their blogs. I might have decided to follow them back and send them quick messages. It takes away time that I could use to finish my work. 

I did not turn the TV on and drift away by catching mindless piece of information.

I did not receive a long call from a close friend and end up chatting for 45 minutes. Nor was I tempted to make one.

I did not sit around feeling intimidated by the task ahead of me. Didn’t have to think, oh I can’t do this, it’s beyond me. Was that really the case or have I made it this way.

I had something to do and I did it. 

When you are working at and office, are you constantly doing things that take you away from work? I am guessing no – for the most part. Then why do we do it at home? 

Distractions are funny, they are small and seem insignificant. They come unexpectedly and when you start attending to them, all your planning flies out the window. And you are left wondering where all your time went.

You can beat them in 3 easy steps.

Get Organized

That’s the first step to having a shot at acheiving what you want in life. Make a list of tasks for the day and follow through. It’s that simple.

Yes, you will have to be very self-disciplined.  But that’s the whole point of it.

Prioritize Your Time

Make blocks of all the demands on your time that take you away from your task at hand –ie writing a new post. If it’s being on the internet, turn it off.

Set a time aside for checking your blog subscriptions.  Say 20 minutes. Even if you can’t read everything, you’ll probably find out that you did the thing that is more important at the moment. Writing a post. 

Do not go around commenting everywhere. Only comment if you genuinely have something to say, or praise the exceptionally well-written post. 

Check your emails together instead of checking throughout the day. Same goes for the phone calls, return them in bunches if you get many while you are working. 

And finally,

Stick To It

Would you be able to access social networking sites or tv at work? Do the same while you are working from home, its no different really. If you allow too many distractions, you will lose valuable time and end up accomplishing nothing.

I did it for one day. The goal is now to do it for every day of the week. No more lame excuses for why I did not publish three times a week. I have taken the first step.

What keeps you distracted from writing post regularly? Share your tips on how to beat these nasty buggers with all of us.

Subscribe to keep up with all blogging fun… :)

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Help with better posting?

Why is that some posts with really good content don’t get read?

1 Your Posts are TOO Long

Have a look at this post I did a few days ago.

Two words. Information Overload.

I was really excited to do this post actually. It took me about 3 hours to do this. I gathered all the interesting quotes on blogging, organized them. Then I had this great idea of putting them down as a virtual interview. Any blogger would be interested in reading that, right?

Wrong!

Who has time to read all that? It doesn’t look anything like a blog post, but more like a report!

I got carried away and forgot the most important (unwritten) rule for writing a great blog post – one that actually gets read. It needs to be short and sweet. It should not read like a book chapter.

Which sounds more appealing to you?

      4 things you can easily do to start publishing with wordpress

     42 things you can easily do to start publishing with wordpress

I am guessing most people would quickly click and read the first one. Assuming the writer doesn’t ramble too long, it should take a few minutes to read it.

What would you do for the second post. Two things If you are interested in the topic, you might bookmark it to read later when you ‘have time’. Or worse, make a mental note of coming back to it. No points for guessing how many actually manage to keep that promise.

With me so far? Some people strongly suggest making one point per post. I think you can do a few, provided you don’t go overboard with the sub-points you are making.

Secondly, if you think you have lots to say, split your post in few. This keeps the readers happy and also keep them coming back. Happiness all around.:)

2 Your Headlines do NOT Say Anything about the Post    

Headlines are extremely important for a success of a post. You might have spent hours working on a post but if the headline does not alert the reader to what is coming, it simply won’t get read.

One of my post has always been very popular. It always gets many clicks every single day. I suspect the reason adding to the clicks could be the headline?

8 Things you did not know about Pakistani Food.   What do you reckon?

Now look at this one.

Just some book for thought. Ouch!

Bad Bad headline.

Could I be any more obscure? What was I thinking? Would you be inclined to click on a post titled as above? Do you think any of these options might have worked better? (Right off the top of my head)

Perfect gift for someone who should write their life story

Writing an autobiography. An easy guide that motivates you to do just that!

3 Your posts are Not Scannable

When I first started blogging, I would write in the usual way, you know, writing in paragraphs. That’s what our English teacher told us to do and even as adults we don’t dare breaking this rule.

Well blog writing is different and your posts should be screen friendly – if you want people reading them that is.

  • Break up your writing into smaller paragraphs than you usually would. One line is acceptable as a paragraph in blog world.
  • Add headings, bullet points, and bold important bits that you want to attract attention to.
  • Make lists.

All of these make your post easy on the eyes.

So after saying all that, what do you think makes a post really appealing? Are you doing anything differently to when you started blogging? Have you made any changes to your writing style? 

      Subscribe to join my hobby bloggers club – even if you are writing for pleasure, doesn’t mean you can’t be good at it. :)

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What makes one subscribe to a blog?

 
Every blogger wants more readers, and so when this question popped into my mind last night, as I was about to go to bed, I took notice.  As this kind of thing usually happens while I am already half asleep, I was grateful, and promptly jotted down some notes, hopefully like a true blogger!

Anyway, here are my top reasons which make me wanna subscribe to your blog, or not!

All bloggers want MORE subscribers!

 

What’s in a Name?

Apparently everything? If yours has caught my eye, then I am definitely going to click on it to see if your blog lives up to it. The hardest part is getting readers through the door, and guess what? by choosing a great name that is informative, and memorable – that’s done.

Would you check out 17000days, Men with Pens, the Happiness project, or be more with less , just to name a few?

Looks Matter!!

Never underestimate the power of the design, layout, style, arrangement of posts etc etc. In easier words, if your blog does not look professional, it’s not likely that anyone would subscribe. By professional I mean, by first glance people should see that you the author actually care about it enough to make it look presentable. Having clearly defined categories help immensely as well. Keep it simple, keep it professional.

I love the simple, uncluttered feel of Reading for Your Success, Write to Done and Copy Blogger.

Are We On the Same Page?

This needn’t be said. If I have spent a few seconds on the blog, it’s because I am deciding whether the subject matter is of any interest to me. So for instance, even if I have clicked on to a blog, if it’s a news or politics or technology or business, I am not interested, sorry guys. Its nothing personal. If it’s about fashion, celebrities, cooking, sport, sadly, I am not your target reader again. 

I also like to go narrow and go deep, like most readers. I will subscribe to blogs on writing, blogging, personal development, blogs that have quirky content. (Have you seen Lego a day?) Have a look at my blogroll, and you will see what I mean. I am actually updating that and will be sharing my newest finds with you. How is that significant for a blogger? Develop a niche and people will find you if they are interested in the topic you cover.

Every bogger’s dream, readers clicking subscribe.

 

Who Are You Again?

Most people, after spending a few seconds looking at your blog, (which covers the points mentioned above), generally go straight to the ‘about me’ section, and that is why it is soooo important. While this is not a deal breaker, it is actually quite significant.

I like to connect with people I like. And sometimes its a tad difficult when you don’t get to see the person who is behind all the fabulous writing.

A picture is often a sign of the blogger being friendly and open and – putting themselves out there – as they do with their writing. It’s not easy but it helps. Even face hidden kinda is better than no picture. Blog is not an online magazine, nor a portal of useful articles. People want to know you – picture helps a lot.

Checkout Tsh of Simple Mom here, Suzannah of Write it sideways here, and Katie of Momentum Gathering here. Gorgeous people, hence gorgeous blogs. 

Your style? I Like!

I love it when the author regularly replies back to reader comments, makes me feel needed.

I love it even more when once in a blue moon, they check out my blog, and I worship them if they actually read and comment – I know this has got nothing to do with subscribing, but I had to say that. Not sure about you-comment-I-go-over-to-yours-&-comment-back rule, but sure is nice to have big bloggers having a look at ours once eh?

Go on, click on it!

Sell Me Something?

Ok, I think it’s alright if you are offering an ebook for sale. But do I have to hire you as well? I might, except I am having difficulty finding anything of interest navigating through those 37 ads that are currently on your page. I understand blogs as businesses as well, but do you only want me as a potential buyer of your products or can I just enjoy your blog in peace?

Also, please don’t get preachy on me, doesn’t really help. Go here .. naah, can’t be this rude now, can I? heheh

Perfection is Overrated

Yes, good writing is extremely important, and so is content, there is absolutely no doubt about it. But think about it, who do we connect most with in our real life, the person who is perfect in every sense or people who are beautiful and imperfect like the rest of us? Same goes for blogs: I like to see personality, I like to see ooomph, I do not like perfection. Makes me feel ..not very good.

I am trying to figure out the direction of my blog, it is something I want to be able to do for a living eventually, something that combines everything I am passionate about – reading, learning, teaching, writing, blogging, connecting with people. So this is a ‘play’ blog for me, and while I am doing this, things evolve in their own imperfect ways.

If you want to join in the journey, please subscribe. Learn alongside me and keep letting me know that I am doing something right.

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How many times have you started reading a post and your eyes start to glaze over after two sentences..

How many times have you read the words ‘well written content’  while going through posts on blogging and scratched your head – what does it actually mean, you wonder?  

Is ‘Content is King’ web cliché of sorts? Of course, it is, but like all clichés, there is 100% truth behind these over used words.

Content is King

This post was inspired by an old favourite I recently revisited for its good writing tips, titled  ‘English Essentials- The wouldn’t-be-without-it guide to writing well, co authored by Mem Fox, world-famous writer of children’s picture books. The book is geared towards students of English, however the advice applies equally well to writing a great blog post. Here’s is what I walked away with.

How to write Great Blog posts that will leave your Readers wanting MORE

1. Good Writing Keeps the Reader in mind.

Picture one person you are writing for. Imagine them sitting in front of you while you talk to them about your ideas. Ask yourself these questions. Do they appear to be interested in what you have to say? How can you capture and keep their attention?

What questions might they have? Will they get bored if you write too long, or confused if too little. What might they already know?

You cannot write a post to please everybody, different readers require different levels of language and detail. Write for your one ideal reader. Who do you write your posts for?

2. Good Writing Captures Hearts and Minds Early.

Readers on the internet have limited patience. Hook them in quickly before they move on.

Make sure your posts are ‘scannable‘ , meaning, readers should be able to read them quickly and understand what you are telling them about.

Write short paragraphs. My earlier posts resembled a printed article style and have longer paragraphs. Now I am trying to make my posts as scannable and ‘easy on the eyes’ as possible. Am I succeeding?

Blog posts – in the manner of non fiction – can be clearly set out with headings, sub headings, lists and dot points to help your message get across. Do you do this while writing your posts?

Look at your paragraphs, there should be a smooth flow from one to the next.

How to write great blog posts

3. Good Writing has a Voice.

Every blog has a living, breathing person behind it. It shouldn’t sound like it has been written by a robot. It’s a good idea to develop your voice over time which will stay consistent throughout your posts.

When you write, let your personality, your real self shine through. Advises Mem Fox. If you are funny, be funny in your posts, if you are sensitive, then be that. If you are quirky, allow some quirkiness to come forward .. your readers will love you for it.

Your voice tells the readers that you have enjoyed writing something. It shows your passion for what you do.

I follow a person, not a blog. Do you? Checkout Four Steps to finding your ideal writing voice on Copyblogger. Highly fascinating and satisfying read.

4. Good Writing Connects with your Readers.

We learn from good writing. We FEEL when we read. We are bored and unmoved when we read something we don’t like and don’t even finish reading it.

Be imperfect, be yourself. You are constantly evolving and so is your blog. Be human and other humans will love you. Imperfection is a good thing, says Men with Pens.

5. Good Writing is Clear Writing.

If you can’t understand something, don’t blame yourself, blame the writer. Too harsh? Well this is especially true when it comes to writing a blog post. A well written post is only effective when the message is clear. James Chartrand of Mens with Pens has done a fantastic piece on Copyblogger where he says, “Tight, concise, easy-to-read pieces are heaven for readers. Long, complex, convoluted ones are just confusing.”

Unless you are writing an academic essay, stay away from writing to impress. Get rid of long words, pompous sentences and empty padding, says Mem Fox. ‘Aim to express, not to impress.’

Good writing also has well crafted endings. For a blog post, ask your readers a question and invite them to offer their thoughts on what you have written.

6. Good Writing has been Revised.

Make sure your grammar, spelling and punctuation are correct. These are good table manners of online world. Incorrect spelling puts your readers in a bad mood. It says ‘I am not serious about my work’. It also helps you to maintain your authority over your topic.

How do you define a well written post? What makes you want to stay and finish one post from start to end? And most importantly, did YOU end up reading this whole thing?  :) Do share.

Update: After revising and proofreading this endlessly, I still found a few errors … hence revising again. My apologies if you read it before I had a chance to do so.

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