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Thu, Aug 30th - 12:13PM

Clean It Up!

So, you just finished writing the latest installment of your blog. Wait! Don’t hit the publish button yet. Have you cleaned it up yet?

Although the internet has been cited as destroying proper grammar, the blogs that tend to have any longevity or credential have been properly edited and revised. Now, this may make some of the more free-form bloggers a bit uneasy. After all, blogging is like the Wild West of creative expression, right?

Although true, if someone can’t understand your message because they’re distracted by chronically misspelled words and sentences that have no fluency, then you’re latest post has missed its mark. Follow these steps to ensuring a clean blog post.

Use a Word Processor
If you have a computer, you have some type of word processing program (MS Word, MS Works, TextEdit, or even WordPerfect for the truly antiquated). Although not perfect, you can use your word processor to catch typos and common grammatical errors. Look for the red squiggly underline to spot typos; right click on the word and select the correct spelling. Look for the green squiggly underline for grammatical errors. The grammar check is especially good for catching punctuation errors, like ending a question with a period. One quick spell check does wonders for cleaning up your latest blog post.

Read It Aloud
Read your post aloud, as though you’re addressing an audience. Feel the words on your lips as you speak them. Do they flow easily? Do your points make sense? Is your message easily understood? It’s also a good idea to read your blog to a friend, then have them summarize it. If they didn’t get your main message, you should take another crack at it.

Scan for Common Errors
Every editor has a list of common errors to scan for in any document they proof. Look at your latest blog entry to make sure you correctly use any of these constructions:

  • You’re vs. Your – “You’re” should only be used when you mean “you are”; “Your” implies that something belongs to you. 
  • It’s vs. Its – “It’s” should only be used when you mean “it is”; “Its” implies that something belongs to it.
  • They’re vs. Their vs. There – “They’re” should only be used when you mean “they are”; “Their” implies that something belongs to them; and, “there” refers to a place.

This is just the basics of the editorial process. Although this is just the start to an in-depth revision of your piece, it will give you a nice blanket edit that will give your blog a nice touch of professionalism that will result in more credibility and insurance that your message won’t be smeared by sloppy grammar.

And now for a dose of grammar humor:

Next: Spice Up Your Blog with Pictures


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Sun, Aug 12th - 12:38PM

Blogging 101: Serialize Your Blog

Have you kept your blog updated? If you answered no, then your reasons are probably many: no time, no inspiration, no news, et cetera and so on…

Overcoming Writer’s Block
In the world of writing, we might call these excuses “writer’s block.” If you keep a blog as a way to vent your frustrations or to journal about your life, many of the aforementioned excuses are certainly “acceptable.” After all, nobody really needs to hear how you have nothing to bitch about, or about how you ate a bowl of cereal before heading off to your tend to your day’s tasks (read on for exceptions to this statement).

An excellent tool for enticing return readership is to serialize your blog. Serialization not only provides readers a reason to return on regular basis, but it also states a promise to your readers: “I will give you something new and exciting every (fill in blank).”

Give Your Blog Focus
Why do you blog? What’s your purpose in posting new content to the web via your online journal?

Business Blogs
If you launched a business blog, your reasons are obvious: to communicate with prospective and current customers. The question is how to keep your customers coming back. They certainly won’t return for drivel; they seek information about your services or products. So, you owe to them to give them something juicy.

Suggestions:

  • Update Project Development – This acts as a way of stringing your customers along and sustaining their interest in some hot new product or service in the works. They’ll want to return to see how long they have to wait until they get to use whatever you’re developing.
  • Provide Teasers – Perhaps, you have no desire to let the cat out of the bag about the new project you’re working on. Tease your customers with little glimpses or hints, build suspense as to what’s cooking in your “lab.” This technique will ensure that your customers return for the grand unveiling, or even another little piece of the puzzle. People love a good mystery!
  • Announce Unrelated Projects – These nonsequitors can include any community service, fundraisers, employee stories…anything you can think up that folks might want to read. Of course, you’ll want the stories to reflect your business in a positive light.

Photo Blogs
The serialization of a photo blog is simple. If you take pictures either professionally or for fun, make sure to post them on your blog. Many photo journals exist out there that make it exceptionally easy to upload pictures straight from your camera. Of course, photo blogs need a focus too for readers to return. Occasionally, someone might really like your style, but generally, people look for types of pictures, so find your focus.

Suggestions:

  • People – Think of National Geographic and that young nomadic girl with the piercing blue eyes. Think of the covers of Playboy. Think of the cover of People. People love to look at snapshots of other people.
  • Animals – There is a statistic out there that states something to the extent that nothing makes people happier than seeing a picture of an animal.
  • Nature – Imagine the serene beauty of an oak savannah, or of a rainbow freshly arced across the sky after a downpour, or of sunlight filtering through breaking clouds onto verdant rolling hills. Many people can’t get enough pictures of the great outdoors; it is their escape into greener pastures.
  • Travel – Take your readers with you. Show them the wonders you’ve seen as you trek across the world’s continents.
  • Architecture – Spotlight humanity’s great material accomplishments. Shoot those monoliths in DC, Egypt and elsewhere. Or, snap off a shot or two of those flying buttresses with the white paint peeling back to reveal three different shades of green that previously colored the fixtures.

Personal Blogs
Business and photo blogs are a cinch. They practically write themselves; their focus is assumed from the start. But what about the scores of personal blogs roaming the internet? How do they find their niche? Sure, our friends and families may occasionally pop online to see what we’ve been up to, but what about the scores of potential other readers out there? If you want to capture the attention of an audience, you must find a focus.

Suggestions:

  • Journal – Detail your day, week, emotions, challenges, etc… This should be less about the boo-hoos of your life and more about the victories. Of course, some of us are a bit more callous than others, so go ahead and let it show. You may put off a ton of readers, but you may attract other flies to the crap you point out. Whatever you do, keep it interesting. Get naked and people will watch you dance, even if you are moshing in the pit. Conversely, if you don’t really have anything to report except the aforementioned bowl of cereal, make it sound exciting; detail the crunch of the grains between your molars and about how each bite fills you with increasing energy like the status bars you find in video games.
  • Write Your Novel – Writer’s Digest recently reported that in a poll taken early this year, over 75 percent of those surveyed claimed they planned to write a book someday. What better place to write each chapter than in your blog. Not only will you receive helpful feedback from readers, but you will also gain that push that we all need when writing a book. Consider each blog post a chapter, or if that seems too much to do in one swoop, write in sections. Worried about someone stealing your story? Don’t! Unless they have amazing hacking skills that can completely wipe your site off the internet, each act of posting serves as your proof of copyright.
  • Rant – Entire programs have been built on the principle of the gripe. Think of all those Ditto Heads or Jon Stewart fans. Both bitch about their polar opposites. In the case of Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, they rile up the Right into believing the wicked Left will be the death of us all. In the case of Al Franken, et al, they expound upon the evil ways of the Right. Either way, they’ve attracted followers and entertain them on a daily basis. You, too, can turn your bitches into entertainment. Just be real about it. Then when someone laughs, tell them you don’t see what’s so funny for a few more yucks.

Dig Deep
If you look deep inside, to dig up all the stuff that makes you tick, you’ll find the perfect focus for your blog. You’ll discover the wellspring that is sure to keep your blog updated frequently, and to keep that frustrating mythical beast know as “writer’s block” from making your readers leave empty handed. YouTube has created the perfect opportunity for video bloggers (vloggers) to serialize.

Here’s the flamboyant Michael Buckley with his news show, “What the Buck?!” on the death of another YouTube classic series, LonelyGirl15:

Next: Clean It Up!


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