Transforming Dreamers into Influencers

Month: August 2018

Storytelling Connects Bloggers to Readers


Stories last even when the words fade. Storytelling is how we transfer experiences; your readers can visualize your story, you appeal not only to their intellect but to their senses, emotions, sense of order or recognition. Joshua Gowin in Psychology Today recounts research that reveals “telling stories builds empathy and . . . when you tell a good one, people act as if they’re watching it unfold before them.”

There are many different types of stories we’ll be exploring in this blog; one of the easiest to start with is the personal story because it grows out of your own lived experience. A personal story can connect you with your readers when your experiences resonate with theirs or when you describe your experiences so vividly that your readers feel as if they are right there with you. So how do you write a story that will connect with your readers?

Let’s say you are writing a blog post on bullying, and you want to tell a story of a time you stood up to a bully who took some of your Halloween candy. You can start by freewriting about the incident to prepare for a more focused brainstorming on an element that storytellers sometimes overlook: sensory detail. In our bullying story, you might think about a piece of candy that you were very sorry to lose. Spend some time brainstorming about the taste of that candy. Then go on to what it smells like. What does is feel like in your mouth? What sounds do you hear as you unwrap it? Why was this candy particularly attractive to you? Do you have memories associated with it? Really focusing in on both the sensory and associative details of the vital parts of your story can translate into a story that touches your readers.  Do this exercise for the costume you wore, for the way the bully was dressed, the street where it occurred, etc. Would you rather read:

He took my candy bar.


He robbed me of my Almond Joy with its sweet memories of the Hawaiian 
coconuts my grandfather and I had gathered on our final vacation together.

With the second sentence, you’ve raised the stakes and provided a reason why you may have had the courage to stand up to that bully. There are a few things to keep in mind when telling a story:

  1. Your story should have an obvious connection to the point of your blog, something to interest the reader and provide a context for what follows; it should have some sort of conflict or obstacle to overcome; finally, it needs to resolve that problem to give a sense of closure.
  2. If your story includes other people, disguise their identity or ask yourself (or better yet, ask them) how they would feel reading this story.
  3. Ask yourself whether this story could hurt you or your reputation; could it affect your day job? We’ve all heard stories of people fired from their jobs for what they put on the internet.

Make a connection with your readers; exercise the power of storytelling.

SEO Secrets: Make Your Blog Post One in a Million

For a firsthand illustration of SEO, go to Google, Bing or Yelp and enter in any single word. The results displayed can be from 1 million to up to more than a billion. Unfortunately for the average blogger, according to Leverage Marketing, search engine users do not go much further than the first 5 listings in a search.

About Blogging SEO
Bloggers Need to Use SEO Strategies

Effective SEO Can Make the Difference

seeking to be in the first five listings is aggressive, it is possible
to achieve a first page (1 of 10) search result for your blog. The
secret is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Here are some tips that some
of the most successful bloggers have used
to beat their competitors.

1). Keyword Density

While using the same keyword like SEO can be wearing on one’s readers,
it is possible to reach a level where search engines take notice without
tiring out your readers. When writing, attempt to use the keyrword to a
density of 2 to 3.5%. Once your blog is written,
take the total number of words and compare that to the number of
keywords. You can paste your blog into a word processor program and do a
keyword search. Your keywords, like SEO, should repeat 2 to 4 times for
every 100 words in your blog.

2). Use Your Keyword in Your Headlines

Headlines are the text that appears in your blog that is larger than
your text. If you look at your html view, headlines are H1, H2 and H3
lines of text. The title of your blog is usually the H1 text. Within
your blog, there should be smaller headlines and
you should insert your keywords within them. For SEO purposes,
remember, search engines attribute a higher importance to headlined
keywords than they do with a keyword within the text.

3). Open and Close your Blog with Your Keyword

The first sentence and the last sentence should both contain your
keyword. As you can see, this blog is about SEO, that word appears in
the opening sentence and the last sentence. This is not only important
for search engines, but the opening and closing sentences
are often those that are most remembered by one’s readers.

4). Include Two Links in Every Blog Post.

The two links to include are an internal link and an external/outbound
authority link. Search engines love links and postings with links will
increase your SEO. When a search engine indexes your page, it follows
the links to their destinations. Your internal
link will increase the times other part of your blog are indexed and
your authority link will boost a search engines evaluation of the
importance of your blog. You do not need to limit your blogs links to
two, but that should be the minimum.

5). Properly Tag Your Images With Your Keyword.

Your images have three possible tags. One is the name of the image, the other it a title or caption which accompanies the image, and the third is the Alt tag. The Alt tag tells the reader what would have been displayed it the image fails to load. A full description with proper tagging to improve SEO can be found here.

6). Make Sure Your Blog URL Contains Your Keyword

An effective SEO increase is achieved with the use of your keyword in
the url in your blog. In WordPress, you can set this automatically by
going to settings > permalinks. There you will find your choices are
date, numerical (each post designated by an increasing
number or by blog title. This blog post url, for example, is
blog-post-one-in-a-million. There is a fourth WordPress permalink choice
which is custom. You may consider include author or category in
to the title within your expanded url.

7). Make Sure Your Post is Long Enough

Your post does not have to be War and Peace, but a length of at least
400 words is recommended. For SEO, two criteria for determining validity
of a block of text are repetition and variety. For a search engine to
compare what has been written in relation to
other options, a post with sufficient data will always win out over
something that is too brief.

At first this may seem like a lot to remember, but if you draft your
post, then go back and edit to include the proper structure, you will
find that over time, you will begin to integrate those SEO rule
naturally and benefit from higher search engine rankings.

Inspiration and Integrity

We are inspired by those we see, talk with, and read. A picture in a magazine, a conversation at a party, or a book we read might be the start of a great post. Good bloggers are receptive to new ideas and trends that can spark an engaging blog entry, but it’s important to give credit to creators who originate ideas or other materials. Giving credit builds relationships and opens the world to your readers; giving credit is part of being an ethical blogger who respects the work of others.

The standards for giving credit depend on what you are doing with the material and the type of blog you are writing.

What are you doing with the material?

Do you find inspiration in someone else’s blog, book or interview? Is a writer a good example of the point you are making?  Give them a shout out with a link. For instance, in our blog on reaching different readers, we provide links to blogs that really speak to certain types of readers.

Are you using the information or ideas of someone else to make a point or to back you up? It doesn’t matter if you are using the ideas or the actual words: you must give credit to the writer. Maybe you are trying to make the point that workers who are aged 50+ are often technologically proficient, but have difficulty finding jobs. You might write: “John Hanc notes that employers may be skeptical of older workers’ abilities” if you are borrowing simply his idea rather than his words. Hanc is a good writer, however, and you may want to borrow a few of his words. If so, write “John Hanc writes that ‘If you are an older adult thinking of making a second career in the high-tech heart of the new economy, however, be prepared to face skepticism as to whether you can even turn on a computer’.”

Are you using an image or music from someone else’s site? Always contact the owner to ask for permission or look for a statement that defines what attributions or payment is required. A site such as offers many images that are free for personal and commercial use and have no attribution required. Some sources require attribution; YouTube has an Audio Library of music and sound effect, some needing no attribution and some requiring full attribution. For instance, if you are using “Jumpin Boogie Woogie,” you’ll need the following information: Jumpin Boogie Woogie by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license ( Artist: There are services that offer images for a fee such as Adobe Stock or iStock; generally, you can license one image or subscribe to get a certain number of images each month.

Let’s say you are reviewing Rebecca Makkai’s new novel, The Great Believers, and you want to use her author photo. In a case like this, her book is a product and she is the producer. It’s ok to grab an image of the book or the author to use in your review, just include a link to the author’s website (though writing to the author might be a good opportunity to share your blog).

What type of blog are you writing?

If you are writing a blog for the general public, it’s usually enough to include links in the text to your sources. This is what I have done above. However, if you are writing for professional readers or writing a blog where your authority is very important, you’ll want to include both links and a more formal bibliography at the end of your blog post. I do this with my posts on Kindler of the Flame, which is a blog for readers in higher education. If you are writing on legal or medical topics, such a bibliography warrants your credibility.

Bottom line

Responsible bloggers give credit to their sources. This can provide you with an opportunity to build relationships with other bloggers and experts as you request permission to use their materials. It demonstrates to readers and potential partners that you are a trustworthy source of information. Links to other sources can do a great service to your readers by broadening their perspective.

Tagging Images in Blog Posts to Enhance SEO

always use captions
Search Engines Are Looking for Your Tags

Images Increase User Experience

Although blogging uses text to convey concepts, it is important to remember that a multi-media experience can enhance a reader’s experience. Images used in a blog convey concepts quickly, break up text blocks visually and if tagged properly, they can increase the number of times a blog is indexed by search engines.

Search is Still a Relatively Text-Based System

Most images are found by search images, not by what they picture, but the
information added by the creators. There are three opportunities that a blogger has to add content to an image. Be sure to understand these and integrate them into your blog posts.

1). The Image URL
If your image source is, search
engines have little reason to list it. It will be essentially lost in ambiguity. Prior to uploading your image, give it a descriptive name, preferably one with a keyword featured in your blog post. If you wish to use multiple words you can break them up with dashes such as .com/picture-of-effective-blog-post.jpg.

2). Subtitles/Captions
Not only do subtitles engage a reader, but they also give a blogger the opportunity to use their keywords again. Remember, a search engine does not see an image as content so a caption can tell a search engine what the picture actually displays. Use your captions to emphasize concepts you want readers to remember as a picture/word combination is a powerful tool.

3). Alt Tag of Your Image
An Alt Tag is the replacement description that is shown if your image does not load. Since the caption and image url are already part of the content, try to make your sure Alt Tag is a little different that the other two, but still conveying keyword content. Variety is very appealing to search engines when indexing. To use the same content for the image, caption and Alt Tags defeats the purpose of attracting attention.

Tag, Tag, Tag Away to a Successful Blog

If you tag your images properly, you will be surprised how readily they are picked up and displayed in the image section of search engine results. Essentially, images extend the visibility of your blog and can increase readership by reaching audiences outside to traditional channels.

Since pictures can convey a thousand words, use your image tags to give search engines (which are essentially blind) a hint of what what words to assign to your pictures.

Starting a Blog—Who Are Your Readers?

Below you’ll find blogs that focus on the Instant Pot, the cooking device that seems to have taken over the Internet. I’ve described some of the potential readers for each blog; some of these folks would be interested in more than one of these Instant Pot blogs and all of the blogs appeal to more than just the readers profiled here. As a blogger, it’s your job to find an audience that is going to be interested in your unique perspective.

Of course, you have marvelous ideas and a way of expressing those unique ideas so that anyone will want to read your blog, but the problem with writing for everybody is that your posts become too general. Readers will quickly decide: Is it relevant to me? Is it important to me? To understand whether it’s relevant and important, bloggers must understand readers’ priorities. It can be helpful to assemble an array of profiles of the typical readers you want to reach.

Readers who face challenges

When you first open your Instant Pot, you face a learning curve, and it can be helpful to look at blogs directed to beginners with easy instruction for quick and successful dishes. Instant Pot Tips for Beginners is one page from a blog directed to beginners like the college student who lives with friends off campus, or the bachelor who wants to up his cooking skills, readers who have little cooking experience but who like to eat with little fuss. Other beginners might know a lot about cooking but little about the Instant Pot; or some of the readers might be busy parents who appreciate simple “dump-and-go” recipes.

Readers looking for detailed information

Amy + Jacky Pressure Cook Recipes takes a scientific, methodological approach to cooking in the Instant Pot that produces consistently good results. Readers who are experienced cooks will appreciate the results of their comprehensive testing of a dish before they post the recipe. This is also a blog for readers who want dishes that go beyond the usual.

Readers who want content to fit special needs

Two Sleevers focuses a lot on the Keto diet and dishes for those who want to eat healthy; it will also appeal to first generation southeast Asians who wants a lot of tasty Indian dishes without the laborious traditional preparation.

Readers in search of new approaches

5 Simple Things You Never Thought to Do with an Instant Pot will appeal to those familiar with the Instant Pot but want make it even more useful. Such readers may use more than one Instant Pot; for instance, gardeners might be interested to know they can sterilize soil in an Instant Pot.

Readers who want to laugh

Sometimes readers just seek a little diversion; Instant Pot Madness will appeal to a wide range of readers whether they have used Instant Pots or not. Such a reader has probably heard about the Instant Pot and wonders what all the hype is about.

Think carefully about your ideal readers and how what you have to say intersects with what they want to read. Through your blog, you can even expand the range of your readers’ interests if you gain their trust by writing engaging and relevant material.

Is Your Blog a Yugo or a Ferrari?

Let’s face it, if you want to write and not get paid, keep a journal. With good business practices come audiences as well as compensation.  There are many bloggers who make from $1,000 to $5,000 a month.  Some successful bloggers make in a month what many people make in a year. While not all bloggers will make big money, those who adhere the following guidelines have a higher likelihood of success.

1. You can never learn too much. 

Is Your Blog a Yugo or Farrari?

The Internet has a plethora of information daily, and not only that, it is a dynamic, growing system. There is both new information and opportunities monthly. Read voraciously, prioritize your sources and make plans to implement what you learned. To a certain extent, in blogging, knowledge is power and reading is the fastest way to accumulate it.

2. Start with the basics and expand your disciplines as you become proficient.

Blogging is a mountain you climb and only those who take it a step at a time reach the top. Begin with becoming a productive writer, then learn how to reach target markets, add on SEO, maybe some web mastering (WordPress, CSS, funnel pages, plugins, schema, and amp’s), affiliate marketing, mailing list management, product development and sales. Start with what you know and learn to get better at disciplines that will make you successful.

3. Stay the course.

Some bloggers take up to six months to fully roll out. Some blog for a year or two before the momentum builds to a sustainable level. There are very few bloggers who can support themselves without diligence and preparation. It takes time to build audiences, rankings, and effective strategies. If you believe in the endgame and work towards it, you will achieve your goal. Keep in mind, you are building something from nothing. At some point, you will will have enough momentum and synergies that the growth and income might surprise you. 

Blogging is a life choice. It is creative, it is liberating, and it has risks and rewards. The internet is vast and opportunities are enormous. Access requires very little monetary investment. Now get in your Internet Ferrari, turn the key, press the accelerator and let’s take this blogging opportunity for a ride.

Starting a Blog—Who Are You?

Starting a blog is a way to get your voice heard. The first step is to develop a focus for the blog that aligns with who you are. What do you want to blog about? Start by considering three elements.

Think about your interests

  • What are your passions?
  • What do you want to make more time for in your life?
  • What activities or thoughts do you want to cultivate?
  • What do you want to spend more time doing?

Think about whom you want to interact with

  1. Do you want to work alone or with a collective of other bloggers who share your focus?
  2. Do you want a chance to connect with experts in your field?
  3. Are you inviting comments and building a community?
  4. Do you want to blog about what you can discover by going out and about to concerts, restaurants, or museums?
  5. Do you want to stretch your comfort zone by taking up a new activity such as making books or training for a marathon?
  6. Are you happiest at home with a good movie, or in the kitchen, or at your sewing machine?

Think about what your blog will do

  • Commentary can include anything from your travel journal to your thoughts on the state of the economy. You might share your thoughts on the funny things that happen in your life or share a poem that is particularly meaningful.
  • Reviews are good excuses for getting out and enjoying cultural activities such as movies, restaurants, theaters, or concerts. If you are a homebody, you can review books, electronic equipment, or services.
  • Tutorials are great for sharing recipes and cooking techniques, crafting or artisanal projects. You can also teach your readers how to start a business, build a container garden, or ask for a loan.
  • Portfolios show off your creative work. Poets and writers, painters and sculptors, weavers and knitters, or makers of any kind can find a way to get their work before the eyes of the public through their blog.
  • Business Updates can let your customers have a peek behind the scenes, involve your customers, and build loyalty. Your dog grooming business might feature a different dog every week. Your wine shop is a great platform to inform your customers on the merits of new wines. As a printer, you can highlight new equipment that will serve your customers better.

As you think about the direction you want your blog to take, keep a notebook to capture your midnight ideas or those that come to you as you read or stand in line at the grocery store. Go out and do something interesting. Talk with people who share your passion. Hopefully, you will be writing your blog for a good long time; make certain you are spending your efforts on something you love.

For Blogging Success, Create a Community

You Have a Make Yourself Visible

“If a tree falls in the forest and now one hears, does it make a sound?”

The popularity of a blog is judged by its number active of readers. Although quality content plays a part, reaching the audiences who wish to read one’s content needs to be a top objective of any blogger.

Influence is Key

A blogger’s influence is measured by their social media footprint including what channels lead to the blog, how much traffic, the size of the email list, and recognition by others. Without connections, a blogger is alone. How does a blogger create community? By reaching out, joining, and participating in larger media venues.

Recently, Forbes named the top richest women in America. In that list is Kylie Jenner who turned her Instagram following into a personal net worth of $900 million. She is soon to become the youngest self-made billionaire.

Build your Audience

Turn your blog in to a blockbuster by accessing wider audiences. You can develop large followings, promote your blog and reach people that you would never reach otherwise. The owners of Facebook accounts is more than two billion people. We created a Pinterest account which has grown to attract 40 million visitors a year. It takes little to imagine what that kind of traffic might mean to one’s blog.

Each media channel has its own disciplines that you will learn over time. The best attribute of all is that they are free. Be sure to create your account, associate it with your blog, develop relationships and create content that will attract the attention of potential blog readers.

Here is a list of the social media websites and apps you should be consider using to promote blog content.


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