Why Blogging is Important: Creating a Blog Post

Why should you even bother writing a blog post?

Most writers simply LOVE to write and a BLOG is a great venue to disseminate your ideas, quirks and reflections. However, a BLOG is also a great place to market your professional endeavors and businesses. A BLOG can help build credibility, it promotes your brand (if done correctly), it evokes social media opportunities and it can greatly improve your overall SEO. Basically, blogging can be a form of content marketing for yourself and your brand.

What should you blog about?

Most everyone has a specialty and most anyone can BLOG about their passion, interests and professional knowledge. Usually anyone can BLOG as long as they credibly know what they are writing about. If you know your niche, you're capable of writing a decent blog post.

Writing a Blog Post: 

1) Understand your target audience: 

Don't beat yourself up too hard over this step, but you need to understand who is interested in what you have to say. What do they want to know and how can you deliver it to them? What will interest them and how can you maintain their interest? BLOGS are usually more personable and this gives you the flexibility to use your natural voice, in words. Remember that from English class? Finding your writing voice? Your voice is what will give your words depth, personality and passion. These writing characteristics will resonate with your audience and will create the tone and mood of your BLOG.

"Tone: the author's attitude about a topic. Mood: the reader's emotional response to the topic."

2) Start with a topic and plan for a SEARCHABLE title.

Jot down a few writing prompts for yourself, topics YOU would search for when building your own treasure chest of knowledge. More than likely, readers in your field of interest will find these topics interesting too. Notice I used the word searchable. This is important and vital in creating traffic for your BLOG and personal brand. These searchable terms will eventually build a set of common keywords found on your BLOG and Google duly takes notice of that. These common keywords will eventually build with your BLOG history and will eventually give you credibility in the eyes of Google bots. Why is this important? Plain and simple, it helps your page rank...tremendously! Speaking of Google, be sure to set up your Webmaster Tools for your BLOG, you will want to analyze the different ways the general public finds you. Webmaster Tools keeps a database of links to your site and common keywords, phrases too. So again, pick a searchable title, one that compliments the topic as well as your online persona. Obviously, you will need to pick a title you can deliver on, everyone hates clicking on a link that the author didn't deliver on...ugh!

3) Brainstorm! 

Take a long look at your title and jot down the different things you would want to know if YOU searched for that particular title. Then, log into Google and actually search your title. What did you find? Read, at least glean, through the first three hits. This should inspire you to add particular items of interest, it might even prompt you to tweak your title, or you might get a few leads for additional blog posts. What's the worst that can happen? You might actually learn something new, you'll certainly gain a better understanding of what the general public is searching for and you'll see what Google deems worthy as a top landing page in the SERPS (search engine results page).

4.) Write your intro and be sure to add a writing hook.

A hook, another one of those writing techniques from middle school and high school; that lovely sentence that keeps your readers engaged in your topic. You want to grab your reader's attention from the get go. If you lose their attention in the intro they will never get to the info you worked hard for in the body of your post. Common blog hooks can be a quote, an image or an interesting fact. Your intro should also include the topic you are going to address, let them know what they are in for. A bullet list of your sub-titles would be a good option for those longer, more comprehensive posts. This little detail will give the reader a more thorough idea of what is in store if they stick around to read.

5) Organize your content in a logical and INTERESTING sequence.

Break things up, nobody likes reading large paragraphs, especially in a blog post. Get creative, use things likes tables, lists, bullets and graphics. Remember, great graphics tend to end up on Pinterest and that can be an extraordinary boost of traffic for your BLOG. You can also use a variety of widgets for polls. Just do a Google search for, widgets for blogs, and see all the neat things that are out there to spruce up your BLOG. Widgets are pretty easy to use and usually just require you to cut and paste the html info into your post. Sites like Blogger and Wordpress tend to make this step fairly easy.
"A widget is a stand-alone application that can be embedded into third party sites by any user on a page where they have rights of authorship, e.g. a webpage, blog, or profile on a social media site." - wikipedia
By the way, subheadings are usually searchable phrases too. These valuable SEO opportunities should be considered when trying to rank your personal brand. And yes, a personal BLOG is considered part of YOUR brand.

6) Editing and Revising your Post: Write! And Rewrite! Read! And Reread!

ALWAYS reread your post...out LOUD. This is by far the best way to catch your mistakes, to analyze flow and to possibly get weird stares at your local Starbucks. Yes, been there. Anyway, editing is absolutely crucial and is a very important process. Look at each of your subheadings and read each paragraph as a stand alone content. Did you deliver? No? Rewrite it! Tweak as you work your way down. You might even need to rearrange a few things. Also, make friends with a Grammar Nazi, they can come in pretty handy. 

7) You are NOT done yet: Create a Graphic for your intro:

Choose an image that is visually appealing and reflective of your title. You don't need to be a professional graphic designer to spruce it up. Load the image to your Keynote or Power Point and add your title to it. Yes, it IS worth the extra trouble. This image has the potential to land on various social media feeds i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram...on and on. And don't forget to add a small watermark to the bottom of the image with the name of your site.

Did you know there are searchers out there that would rather look through Google images for a topic instead of through the text links? Keep THAT piece of valuable information in your SEO toolbox. Let this motivate you to pay very close attention to the graphics you publish and the names you save them as. Apparently Google DOES look at image file names...brilliant eh?

Need images?

8) Tag it!

Your blog site should have a place to choose and create tags. Blogger calls them labels. These handy little guys are there to be used as organizational keywords for your topics and can greatly help organize your blog posts. These aren't just internal either, most blogs list them on the sidebar. Frequent blog readers understand how they work and they simply click on the tag/label to see all the relevant posts related to that particular tag. Tags are author generated though. Do this EACH time you create a blog post; make sure tags are relevant, your readers will thank you.

9) Almost done! Finish up your post with a Call to Action

A call to action is commonly known by its acronym CTA and is a must in content marketing. A CTA is a command telling your readers what to do next. This command can be in the form of a linked graphic or linked text. The idea is to get the reader to your website, a product or another related post. If you have an Amazon Affiliates account (pretty easy to get) you can insert your product html as your CTA. Be sure to add some valuable text to it instead of having random things floating around. Make everything on your post purposeful.

Happy Blogging!

Images: Created by me with a little help from freedigitalphotos.net

What Does a Content Writer Do?

Writing Tutorials: What Exactly is a Content Writer?

Definition of a Content Writer

It sort of depends whom you ask but marketing knowledge is clearly becoming a strategic aspect of online writing. Nevertheless, an effective, modern day content writer is definitely multifaceted in their research and delivery. I think the Content Marketing Institute sums it up the best...
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
— Content Marketing Institute
Basically, an experienced content writer provides effective, textual knowledge of an idea, product or brand. In terms of marketing, a good content writer will provide information, interest and traffic for a specific brand. Furthermore, the strategic use of keywords will encourage search engine optimization (SEO) for a brand’s website. In addition, the powerful force of social media demands content to be visually rich with informative and shareable graphics. Therefore, the writer must be able to provide beneficial knowledge while foreseeing how the content will be marketed through the various venues available via the Internet.
An experienced content writer provides effective, textual knowledge of an idea, product or brand.
An experienced content writer provides effective, textual knowledge of an idea, product or brand. |

Content Writing: Defined

Let’s look at a few synonyms and common responsibilities of a well-rounded content writer:
  • Marketer
  • Researcher
  • Writer
  • Editor
  • Graphic Artist
  • SEO Analyst
  • Social Media Guru

You cannot be an effective content writer if you don’t understand the various aspects of the brand you are working for or the topic you are writing about. In order to compete, your article needs to be more valuable than the 1st page links found on the search engine results page (SERPS). The content you produce must be seen and shared. You will need to use an effective combination of keywords, quality content, eye-catching graphics and a variety of social media venues. Aside from quality, quantity is extremely important. Each additional article adds keyword credibility for the website. Find innovative ways to take your primary topic and create a variety of subtopics to write about. Each article should compliment the primary theme and keywords of your original work.

Learn to be actively reflective...

An exemplary content writer is actively reflective; ask yourself, am I being true to the brand? Remember, credibility and trust are invaluable characteristics of a commendable content writer. Your personal brand and those you write for are on the line.
Gather your data and analyze your topic.
Gather your data and analyze your topic. 

Doing Your Research

Research is the base of a well-written article. Not only should a content writer research the latest studies of their topic, but they should also seek out related articles and news stories. It wouldn’t hurt to search sites like Pinterest, Linkedin, Mashable and others for related topics that are trending. Avoid rewriting and regurgitating what is already out there. Instead, update the topic with new information and a fresh perspective. Again, if your competition is already leading the SERPS, then you have to exceed their article with higher quality content and graphics. Always offer information that is useful and beneficial to your readers – avoid the fluff. Consider your inquiring readers as your actual end product; if they don’t want to read it, why on earth would you expect them to share it?
“A writer without a reader doesn’t exist.”
— Harlan Coben

Be an Effective Writer

A good writer is clear, credible and coherent in their writing. Find your personal voice, but with caution! There is a fine line between sounding condescending and being too creative with figurative language or over the top vocabulary. Don’t be afraid to free-write all of your thoughts and research, just be sure to edit and revise what you have spilled out.
“It is perfectly okay to write garbage— as long as you edit brilliantly.” 
— C. J. Cherryh
Editing and revising is a crucial aspect of content writing.
Editing and revising is a crucial aspect of content writing. 

Editing and Revising

Rereading your text out loud is by far the best practice in evaluating one’s written word. You may know what you are trying to say but does the reader understand? Listen for clarity, logic and flow.
  • Analyze your intro, body and conclusion. Is it written cohesively?
  • Is your information true to what the reader initially searched for?
  • Did you deliver on your title?
  • Consider your formatting; images, quotes, bullets and subheadings could be added for clarity.
Also, be sure to remove any of the unnecessary fluff. Online readers want quick info – don’t make it burdensome. Keep in mind, your readers can quickly back-click if your content can't deliver what they are looking for.
Remember to keep it old school and take a breather before your final revision. It is always a good idea to set your work aside and revise it at a later time.
“Throw up into your typewriter every morning. Clean up every noon.” 
— Raymond Chandler

Graphic Artist

Most contractors have their own graphics, but you may need to come up with a few original images. There are a variety of resources for finding and creating graphics. Plus, you will want to be sure to create graphics that will look great in Twitter and Pinterest feeds. Be mindful of the growing number of searchers who actually go through Google and Bingimages to find what they are looking for; visual searchers would rather scroll through images than analyze titles. Also, don’t forget captions show up on Pinterest and some search engines as a searchable keyword; use captions with commonly searched phrases that are not already included in your title or subtitles. Check out sites like snacktools.com for ways to enhance your graphics with slideshows. You’d be surprised what you can do with a simple Power Point or Keynote slide to freshen up an image.
What will your target audience put in the search bar to find your content?
What will your target audience put in the search bar to find your content?

SEO Analyst

The way I look at SEO is like a frame around a painting. Your content is your painting; your titles and subtitles are your frame. A frame is there to present your creation. What good is all of your hard work if search engines can’t present it to searchers? Your best practice is to look at your content and ask yourself, “What will my target audience put in the search bar to find my information?” Then, enter that information in the search bar and see what you find, evaluate the content, titles and subtitles of your competition. You might even find yourself inspired to add another section to your content, or better yet another article. Once you’ve analyzed your SEO competition you can apply relevant subtitles to the various paragraphs you’ve already created. Think of each subtitle as a relevant and searchable phrase. What you don't want to do is flood your titles and subtitles with excessive use of the exact same keyword, Google bots interpret unnecessary repetition as being spammy and non credible, the last thing you want is to push your content down in the SERPS. By the way, whenever you search your potential titles/subtitles be sure to flip over to images and see what graphics come up. The idea is to size up what is being pinned on Pinterest; always include graphics in your SEO mindset.
Does your content have the capacity to go viral?
Does your content have the capacity to go viral?

Social Media

Let the world know your content exists and be sure to use all of the applicable venues.Do you have a personal blog? A blog is a great way to let your colleagues now you’ve published something new. Do a simple spin off by letting your blog audience know what you learned from your research. Write a summary of your new article and link to it. Share your blog post through social media as an additional backlink to your article. (Warning: Don’t let your blog post title compete with your article)
Perhaps you published something on LifeHacker or Linkedin. Share it directly from the hosting platform onto your twitter, Facebook and Pinterest feeds. Keep an eye on the social media feeds of the site you wrote for and retweet or like their shares of your work.
Build up a sharing network with your colleagues. Social media works best when you apply the, “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” philosophy. Look at your competition as learning and sharing vessels instead of as enemies. You never know when a colleague will refer you to a new writing opportunity.
The bottom line, social media isn’t just for gaining readers, it’s for gaining credibility with colleagues and future contractors. Your integrity and collaboration will surely fuel additional followers, shares and leads.
© 2015 Marisa Hammond Olivares
Originally Published on HubPages 3/11/2015
Relocated to Blog 6/17/2016

Building a .com: Secure Your Name

I've decided to go ahead and create a new .com for my full name at marisahammondolivares.com
Right now it just reads as a single page; an about me and where to find me. I decided I'd go with networksolutions.com and use their website builder tool for my .com platform.

Buying your own name as a dot com

Some online writers and Google enthusiasts suggest adding the hyphen to your name when building a namesake site. I'm not too sure that is a great idea as correct hyphen vs. underscore use can become an issue. I opted to go without any seperation and simply wrote my whole name together as opposed to something like marisa_hammond_olivares

I don't need family, friends and customers having to worry about the correct use of a hyphen or an underscore.

.com, .net or .me

If you can get .com I say go for it however, .net and .me are great options for personal blogs and websites. The key is to decide what your online persona is and how you want to juggle your web hats.  Do you want to keep your online presence only professional? I certainly hope so. Think of your primary site as the center of your spokes; a bicycle wheel has many spokes and so can your online presence. Each spoke takes you out to your various online platforms and back to you. Why not create a home base with you and your personal .com in the center? Even if you have other websites you still need a bio page with all of your invaluable info.

Incidentally, if you opt to secure your name by buying all three (or more) options you could have all of them redirect to the one platform of your choice. Keep it professional and safe; consider your site as a public biography and thumbprint of your professional life. Don't post anything you would not want your boss, co-worker, family or community member reading...or seeing.