Following is a summary of an article from Daily Blog Tips. I thought the five “mistakes” presented in the article are worth reposting because, although we may know them, we no doubt make them over and over.
So here’s a reminder.
I’ve summarized them below as tips (to do) rather than mistakes.
The Humor contest is accepting submissions now through September 30, 2011. Winners, finalists, semi-finalists and even honorable mentions will all be published in Humor Showcase, an online publication and the winner will receive $250.00!
Reading some of the stories in Humor Showcase had me laughing out loud and triggered some of my own stories. I hope you will be inspired to submit your funny stories to this contest!
Note to my readers: In order to keep up with my blogging schedule as I return now to the classroom, I'm going to be posting only on Mondays. There may periodically be additional posts, but at least you can count on me for Mondays. Thank you!
Here are a couple of more writing contests for August that I thought sounded promising:
Writer’s Digest is offering a 12-week mentoring program for runners up of this prestigious contest: The Industry Insider Screenwriting Contest.
Let’s be clear about it – there is nothing wrong with writing a blog simply because you just like to write and you think it’s kind of fun to put some of your work out there on the World Wide Web.
But if you want people to be interested, i.e., care about what you are doing and actually read your blog, then you really need to take a close look at your purpose.
You need to identify your purpose and then you need to write in order to meet that purpose in every post. In other words, you need to connect with your audience (you may want to read or re-read my last post: Who is Your Audience?).
I’ll admit, I resist this because it all seems a little too structured; doesn’t this threaten my free-spirit style and my response to inspiration?
Yes and no. I’ve discovered that inspiration still grabs me even when I tailor my content to specific keywords and keep my audience in the forefront of my mind. And that “free-spirit” thing? Well, it just the way I am so really, it can’t be threatened!
OK. Back to purpose. You want to express yourself? OK – why? Answer that “why” question and consider how expressing yourself and doing it publically are connected and you’ll have your purpose. Keep in mind that the doing it publically part is the audience factor.
You want to improve your writing skills and develop better self-discipline? OK – again, consider how doing it publically helps you reach your goal.
Yes, posting regularly is a great way to develop your writing discipline and it’s true that the more you write, the better you get. But I’ll be honest with you – posting regularly on a blog that no one reads gets real old real fast. It also serves to chip away at your self-esteem. Do you really want to do that to yourself?
OK. So we are back to purpose and square one. Beyond these personal goals for blogging, you absolutely need to consider how expressing yourself and doing it publically are connected and you’ll have your purpose. Keep in mind that the doing it publically part is the audience factor.
Blog readers read because they want to get something for themselves. Whether it is inspiration, motivation, or entertainment, it all boils down to information in some form or another.
There you have it: TO INFORM is ultimately the purpose of your blog. Whether you are ready to confront this or not, I’m telling you that information is the foundation of any blog that has readers. Read a few of your favorites – go searching to explore some new blogs – no matter what their style is or their content, you will find that there is some form of INFORMATION there.
Challenge: Consider your writing style and the general content of the bulk of your work; consider your personal goals for writing a blog. Then brainstorm for ideas of “take-aways” for your reader. Finally, make a list of pieces of information you can offer that coincide with your style, content, and personal goals. And keep in mind that the doing it publically part is the audience factor.
Your list will become prompts for you as you progress forward with your blog. And the result? Well, you will gain more readers!
I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing your audience! While this may seem like a banal statement, let me assure you that it is not; most of us do not have a clear picture of our intended audience. (You may argue that you don’t need one, but I’ll address that in another post.)
Let’s first look at the question, Who are you? This is important because the chances that YOU are similar to your audience are extremely high.
Describe yourself as you would be described in a demographic report. Sounds impersonal, I know, but do it anyway:
2) age range (12-19? 20-something? 25-40? 35-50?);
3) income bracket;
4) level of education;
5) professional field;
6) interests and concerns (i.e., politically active? Community-minded? Religious/spiritual? Concerned about global issues? Concerned about environmental issues? And so on…).
Place yourself in the first five categories and then choose one topic from your fifth category that best describes what consumes the bulk of your time, energy, money, and thoughts. Do this because it will help you get an objective perspective of yourself as all the companies and organizations that flood your email and physical mail box with unsolicited information see you.
Why is this important? Keep reading:
As a writer, you want people to read your work who are beyond your immediate circle of family, friends, and acquaintances. In other words, if you want to be published, you are ultimately seeking strangers to read your work. So who are these potential readers?
If you are like me, you may not want to limit who might read (and like) your writing; I want to cast a great big net out there and just see what I get.
I thought this was fine for a very long time. Then I actually heard myself say it recently and finally realized how undirected this is! Am I really willing to just write to the breeze and see what happens? Apparently I am because that is exactly what I’ve been doing.
But that’s not what I do for my clients. My clients give me a demographic report of their target audience and I write specific tailored to that group of people. And guess what? My clients are getting far better results from my writing than I am.
To be precise, my clients are getting money from my writing. I am not.
The writing I do for myself gets lost in cyber space. I truly believe it just vanishes.
What happens to your writing? Has it moved you to where you want to be as a writer? Or does it sit in a notebook or on a barely-read blog?
I invite you to look at the question of audience with me for at least a couple of months. After describing yourself as a member of a demographic group on someone’s report, write up the description of your audience. Then write to that audience for a while. Be committed to it because that’s the only way this experiment will give you an accurate result.
I’m going to do that with this blog and my other blog, Forever My Momma. Then in a couple of months, I’ll report back here with the results. I hope you will report back, too.