Transforming Dreamers into Influencers

Tools for Better Writing

Editing for Grammar and Clarity

Writing gets better with guidance and practice; with blogging, we get plenty of practice, but sometimes it’s hard to find authoritative guidance. Some writers enroll in classes to improve writing, but we don’t all have that luxury. Fortunately, there are plenty of techniques and online tools that can help us to identify grammar problems and even tutor us in clearer, more direct writing.

If you are like me, I have difficulty proofreading online. I generally compose in MS Word, which has built-in spelling and grammar-checking options. Then I print out my blog and read it aloud (when I’m all alone!), so I can hear any rough patches.

Lately, I have been using Grammarly as I compose. Now, I am a writing teacher, and Grammarly catches mistakes even I make. If you want to avoid the embarrassment of typos, grammar, and spelling errors, the free version of Grammarly is your friend, and the paid, premium version is even better. The free version will check for over 150 typical grammar and spelling errors, while the premium version will check for 250+ advanced errors, suggest vocabulary enhancements—great when you use the same word over and over, and indicate plagiarism. The premium version will even check for level of formality, distinguishing between academic, business, or creative writing.

If you are concerned about style, the Hemingway app’s free online version will check your prose for sentence readability, unnecessary adverbs, uses of passive voice, and phrases that have simpler alternatives. The desktop app paid version is relatively inexpensive: a one-time fee of $19.99. You can publish from the app directly to WordPress or Medium, and you can directly import text from MS Word or other word processing software, eliminating the need to cut and paste.

Good grammar and clear sentences reach more readers and save you embarrassment. Use the tools at your disposal to write correctly and to improve with practice.

Monetize Your Blog 1! 2! 3!

Add Some Zip to Your Posts With Affiliate Links

Blogging can be fun and satisfying but with the addition of affiliate links, it can also be rewarding. By adding a simple html code or image with a link, you can be on your way to monetizing your blog.

Everyone is a winner!

Affiliate links are a win 3 ways. First of all, you make opportunities and products available to readers, second, companies gain access to your audience and last of all, you get a paid for hosting links. Some companies pay a set fee and some pay a percentage of the purchase amount. Both these are calculated automatically and credited to your main account.

Introducing ShareASale.com Affiliate Program

The affiliate program we will be introducing today is ShareASale.com. This company is one of the largest affiliate representatives. Nearly 4,000 merchants participate in this affiliate program. So if you blog about kitchenware, clothing, webhosting, marketing, collectables, or nearly any service, there is an affiliate link that you can include in your posts.

Watch Your Blog Earnings Grow with Affiliate Links

Affiliate Links are Just the Beginning for an Influencer

As your influence grows, you may also get free items to test and review, might get paid directly for writing about products in addition to getting paid from affiliate links. Be sure to include necessary disclaimers. You can find numerous resources about disclaimers for blogs through Google. The ShareASale opportunity here is completely free to sign up.

If You Can Think of a Product or Service, There is a Link

Most merchants provide a wide range of ways to post links to their selling pages. These can be simple text links, banners, graphics or even specific product pictures. Merchants vested in getting consumers to visit their sales pages and do the most to provide ready make marketing materials for you.

Your Blogging Adventure Starts Here

Once you click the link below, you will be led through a very simple sign up sheet. Approval for the program is very quick and once you access your account you can browse affiliate programs by topic. Many of the Merchants give automatic approval to their programs so you can be generating blog income the same day you’re are approved for the ShareASale Affiliate program.

Instead of Working for Your Blog, Make Your Blog Work for You

Even if you are thinking about monetizing your blog, sign up today free so when you blog is ready, you will be able to add your links right way. Click on this url to begin: shareasale.com

Brainstorming for fresh ideas

Bloggers brainstorming

Writer’s block: we all get stuck from time to time, but did you know there are fun ways to create content and you don’t have to do it alone? Smart bloggers brainstorm with others to generate ideas.

Brainstorming with friends or family can move even the most stubborn blocks. The design firm IDEO uses seven rules of brainstorming to create lots of options, and these can be applied to overcoming writer’s block:

  • Defer judgment. Record all the ideas; refrain from saying that’s “good” or that’s “bad.” Just record them all.
  • Encourage wild ideas. You never know when you will come up with the seed of a brilliant idea in something that initially sounds crazy.
  • Build on the ideas of others. If your friend has a suggestion, add to it, refine it, augment it.
  • Stay focused on the topic. Sometimes it’s easy to get off track; bring the conversation back to blog ideas.
  • One conversation at a time. If you have a brainstorming group of four or more, make certain everyone is in the same conversation together.
  • Be visual. Draw your ideas; you are not trying to be a great artist, just trying to bring a new perspective to the ideas you generate.
  • Go for quantity. Generate a lot of ideas, and you will have some options.

Make a party of your brainstorming session: serve lots of snacks and libations. Offer prizes for the wildest idea or the person with the most drawings. Remember, those you invite to brainstorm are helping you out; treat them well.

Is Your Blog Privacy Policy Current? Update it Free.

Every Blog Must Have a Privacy Statement

All blogs should have privacy statements.  If you blog with a blogging site, this is probably done for you, but if you have a hosted website, you will need to add one. If you have had your blog before April, 2018, it probably is not compliant with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

Why a Privacy Statement?

In every move you make on the Internet, from posting comments, uploading pictures and files, merely opening a webpage, there is information conveyed about you. It can be collected by cookies, monitored by search engines, embedded as code in your files. As a matter of transparency and to protect a webmaster from being accused of abuse, a privacy statement is necessary to protect you, whether you intentionally or automatically collect data.

Free privacy statement generator.
Always keep your privacy statement updated on your website.

Can It Be That Important?

Almost anything legal is allowed if you inform those to be affected that they have a choice in the matter. A privacy statement gives the user a choice to visit your site with the understanding specific information will be collected. If they don’t agree, they can avoid your site. Using your site when a privacy statement is provided gives consent and protection to the web host. Also, if your blog uses Google Analytics, an updated privacy policy is a requirement.

Update Your Privacy Statement for Free!

There is an online tool to which you provide your basic blog information, and it generates a privacy statement which is compliant with both GDPR and CalOOPA (California Privacy) regulations. It only takes a few minutes, is provided at no cost, and nearly 1 million websites have used this tool. Click here for access.

Storytelling Connects Bloggers to Readers

Source: Hershey.com

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.

or

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

While 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 https://blogger.university/seo-secrets-make-your blog-post-one-in-a-million. There is a fourth WordPress permalink choice which is custom. You may consider include author or category in addition 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 www.pexels.com 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 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) Artist: http://audionautix.com/. 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 http://yourblog.com/screenshot8955774885, 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.