Blogging Series – Don’t lose your old readers trying to find new ones

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We found this valuable tip for bloggers by Darren Rowse and we had to share. We hope you learn a few things from this.

Love the readers you already have. A lot of bloggers get quite obsessed with finding new readers – to the point that they ignore the ones they already have. Yes – do try to find new readers but spend time each day showing your current readers that you value them too and you’ll find that they will help you grow your blog.

Focusing on your readers is a great way to get to know them better. I love the way Daniel Burstein describes blog readers’ expectations of you as a blogger:

A blog is really two things. One, simply a piece of technology, a platform. But, two, it is a promise in the minds of most readers, who expect that the blog should have actual content with some elements of value that is hyper-targeted to their needs. Much like with a newspaper. Readers don’t just look at a newspaper as newsprint that is delivered on their driveway every morning. They look at it as valuable information about their city, where they live, and the things that they do.

Preserve your old readers as you pursue new ones. 

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2 surefire tips on writing a captivating blog headline

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Hey, Sparkle Writers! It’s blogging series today and we are focusing on headlines. 

A headline is the first thing your reader sees before deciding to either click or not to click the link to your blog post. The need to understand the science of catchy titles for your blog posts is intense. Ok maybe it’s not as scientific as we just made it sound, but you get what we are saying.

How you write your headline could determine if you drive traffic to your blog or not. We saw this concise article on the bufferapp website where Leo Widrich, co-founder at Buffer, wrote about the best research on writing great blog post titles. We would like to let you in on some of the tips he found after his web research.

Give your readers numbers – the bigger the better

The bigger a number in a post, the farther it spreads. Iris puts it more clearly with great examples:

  • Make lists:8 reasons to…”, “15 tips to…” – Indicating a number of items on your post makes it sound more diverse, practical and easier to read. We found that these work exceptionally well.
  • Use digits rather than words – “10 ways to…” works well than “Ten ways to…” This is often a common blogging mistake that can easily be avoided.
  • Place the number at the head of the sentence. “5 ways social networks are changing the world” will work better than “How social networks change the world in 5 ways”.

Of course, we can’t always make a list post for every article we write. In that case, the following might work:

Everyone wants to be taught – Use “Introduction”, “The beginners guide”, “In 5 minutes” and “DIY.” A key idea about writing great headlines that great copywriters have mastered for a long time and that Iris and her team underline also is to teach people something. After all, we all want to get smarter. A common way to think about it is to make a lot of “How to” articles. The bad news is that whilst they do teach people something, they don’t spread as far. Instead, change it to something more specific, so people will know beforehand, what they will get.

An example:

  • Instead of:“How to get better at organizing your day.”
  • Try:“The 5 minute guide to organizing your day for more focus and productivity”

Being specific, while also showing that the article will be in depth, is one of the most important things to focus on.

#WriterSpotlight – “Find your voice, be consistent and stay true to yourself.” DamiLoves

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We have Damilola on today’s #WriterSpotlight. Her description of the difference between inspiration and motivation and the role discipline plays in the life of a writer is insightful and so is the rest of the interview.

Enjoy!

Hello Damilola Can you please describe yourself in a few words?

Damilola is a determined lady trying to live out God’s calling on her life, who endeavours to utilise all opportunities she encounters.

When and how did you discover your love for writing?

I cannot accurately pinpoint where my love for writing grew from, but I can certainly say that it was born alongside my love for reading books and stories. Growing up my father and maternal grandfather always had a book in their hands. They are two of the most intelligent people I know, yet they still wanted to learn and explore more. In reading, I feed my desire to learn more about the enigma that is life, and in writing, I attempt to bring a voice to stories that would have been forgotten.

What is the most important lesson writing has taught you?

Writing has taught me the value of patience. It has shown me the importance of stepping out regardless of the amount of fear and hesitation one may have. The reason for this is that writing is an exercise in editing, but you cannot edit a piece of work if there is no first draft. You must have the boldness to write down the first few words of the first draft, and return to it and work on it until it resembles the finished product you have envisioned. It can be a gruelling process, but the catharsis it produces pays off in the end.

Which author (dead or alive) would love to spend a day with if given a chance?

I will choose a dead author in the person of Rainer Maria Rilke. I bought the book “Letters to a young poet” as a young teenager, and I find his instructions to Kappus the young poet still resonating with me till today; the letters were written in 1902, but the wisdom is still relevant today.

Have you ever reached a point where you wanted to give up on writing?

Give up on writing? No, it has become part and parcel of who I am, I even write letters to some of my friends, and I adore love letters. Writing is a way for me to reflect, learn and even pray to God. So, no I have not wanted to give up, but when a project is due, or I am near a deadline, and I don’t have the finished product I envisaged, such moments can be testing.

When you are struggling to find inspiration, can you share some of the things that you do to find that inspiration to write?

I will acknowledge that there is no real lack of inspiration for a writer as there is a lack of motivation. Life is inspiring; nature, sorrow, joy, pain; there is some inspiration all around us. However, I have found that motivation and discipline are the more significant factors when writing seems to have reached a point of no return.

Creative people are more often than not taken for granted because people do not understand the amount of time and effort they put in their work. What do you think can be done to change this?

I have encountered the sharp sting of having my work rejected, and I acknowledge that a lot of us do work that inadvertently becomes pro-bono. So to change the current narrative, we will need to alter the mindset of those who are in the driving seat. Consumers and publishers alike need to understand the struggle, and sometimes tears that it takes to produce quality content.

You manage a blog, in your own opinion what’s the most important skill a blogger needs to have?

I currently run damiloves, and when I started, it was about my journey, but now it is about the journey of women. I endeavour to encourage women by sharing stories, poems or my thoughts of social events; reaching where we are today has been a lesson in evolution. I will say a passion and a desire to excel will be the main driving force. Find your voice, be consistent and stay true to yourself; your niche may change but don’t attempt to run someone else’s race.

What will you say has been your biggest achievement as a writer so far?

I completed a short series last year on my blog “a collection of scars“. It was a collection of fictional monologues by fictional Nigerian women who were carrying some burden or another. I was enamoured by the feedback I received, so many people had such unexpected emotional responses to the stories, their feedback humbled me.

Where would you like writing to take you in the future?

I would like my writing to be part of the legacy I leave behind. I want my words to bring joy, comfort and healing even after I depart from this earth.

What advice do you have for people who know that they have a message to share, but fear keeps holding them back?

I would say to them just write, start with small steps and whatever you do just write. There is a talent in you that the world is waiting for; in following your dreams, you open the doors for someone else to walk towards the light of their destiny.

 

If you know any writer who you feel should be featured on our #WriterSpotlight segment or you are that writer, please send an email to thesparklewritershub@gmail.com. 

Your blog readers mean much more than you think

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How many times do bloggers try so hard to get more readers, get more likes, more shares and more comments.

Countless number of times. All in a bid to have a great blog. All these are good but one of the most important aspects of your blog is are your readers.

Can you imagine producing great content day in day out for your readers. Every time you publish a blog post, there is a tribe waiting to read and if possible comment and share. In no distant future you will increase your followers, readers and community because those people will share the content they love with their friends. 

However if you focus on just promoting posts, begging people to follow you, you may not get that. large following. 

When people love what they see and notice that you are consistent they will advertise your blog for you. 

Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers. Identify what your readers want, like and need and stick to it. Your followership will increase in leaps and bounds. 

Your blog should not look like this…

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There are a few mistakes we have noticed on some blogs overtime and because we don’t want you to make the same mistakes, we are going to talk about them today.

Your blog should not look like or have any of the things we will highlight today. If you are already making such mistakes, you know you need to correct it as quickly as possible.

No centralized theme

No matter how random your reason for starting your blog, don’t make the mistake of putting any and everything on your blog. It confuses not only you but your readers. In fact, there is a high probability that you will not get many followers because people don’t know what solution your blog offers. Is it a personal blog, music blog or travel blog? Decide on what centralized theme you want your blog to have and do all you can to stick with it.

No social media handle information 

In this day and age we don’t need too many words to tell you that your social media handles need to be connected to your blog. This way you can make sure that the conversation continues even outside your blog. Linking your social media accounts to your blog also helps you in building a stronger online community.

Abandoned Project

This is always a sore sight. No one will take you seriously if your blog looks like an abandoned project. Wondering what we mean? When last dd you update your blog? What about your ‘About Me’ information? When last did you update that? Are you married and your about me information is still reading ‘single and searching’ ? You need to check that too.

Are there changes you need to make after reading this post. Please do so now. 

Choosing a blog name has never been this easy and fun…

Have you decided to start a blog, but you do not have an idea what the name of your blog should be? This post is just for you.

We’d help you sort out through the names you already have, and if you do not have any names yet, you will, once you finish reading this post of course!

Choose a blog name that is unique and original

This is a no brainer. Your blog name gives your blog an identity, except you want just any kind of blog. Look for a unique name. If possible, let it be a name that tells your reader what to expect from the blog. Your blog name should also reveal the kind of blogger you are, especially if it’s a personal blog.

However, if it is not a personal blog, make sure the name passes the message of the blog across to readers easily.

What do you think of our blog name ‘The Sparkle Writer’s Hub?’ Unique right?  At least if you have never heard of the blog before, the name can tell you one or two things about us! Your blog name should be able to do that.

Your blog name should be easy to remember

This is very important. Don’t pick a name that will make your readers have to bite their tongues to pronounce or think too hard to remember. Something simple and not too long is always preferable.

Have fun 

Choosing a blog name shouldn’t be that difficult and unpleasant. Have fun with it. Pick a name you love; one that will resonate well.

You can use your name

Most definitely, you can. After all is said and done if you still have not been able to come up with a suitable blog name then just use yours. What name can be better than yours anyway?

Not only do you get to attribute your own name to the stuff that you put out on the web, people will also be able to recognize you more easily as the word about your blog spreads.

Now you can go back to deciding what name to use and let us know when you do!

3 things every serious blogger must avoid

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It’s time for another blogging series and today we are talking about three things every blogger must avoid like a plague. Want to know what these three things are? Keep reading

Don’t be non nonchalant

So many bloggers want their blog to grow, make money, impact lives but that would never happen because they are not paying enough attention to the blog.

A blogger who has high hopes for her blog should never be nonchalant about it. Take the design of the blog, the message of the blog and even your readers seriously. If you have committed to writing three times a week, do it. Make sure the look and feel of the blog is welcoming. Never make your blog feel like a deserted place.

Don’t steal another bloggers ideas

It is sad and shows lack of integrity and ideas to steal other bloggers’ content and pose it as yours. Most bloggers put in a lot of work, research and time to come up with their blog content. The last thing they need is for another blogger to steal it.

It is better not to start a blog in the first place than to create one that just picks content mindlessly from other people. There are times you may want to curate stories from other sites but please refer your readers back to the original site or at least mention where you got the content from. Above all, take time to create your own unique content. Your readers want to feel you not somebody else.

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Poor pictures

You bet we were going to add this. It is one thing to add pictures to your blog posts but t is something else to add visually stunning pictures. There is a difference between bloggers who just take the first picture they see and click publish and those who actually look for the right images.

What kind of blogger are you? People are attracted to beautiful things, so anytime you want to post a picture make sure it is something appealing to the eye. Check the picture resolution and make sure it is never less than 640 by 400.

That’s not too much to ask , right?

If you are defaulting in any of these areas, it’s time to make amends.

Still not convinced that your blog is a big deal? This is for you

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You have a blog, you write when you can write, but you don’t feel there is anything special about blogging. Some bloggers don’t see any reason why their blog should be a big deal. We bet you’ll change your mind after reading this.

Here are four reasons why you should your blog should be taken seriously;

Your blog is your platform; a chance to share a piece of yourself with the world.

Your blog is your personal space where you reign supreme. Take charge, dominate and shine a much as you can. If you always wanted to be a superhero, your blog is where you can achieve that, if you’ve always dreamed of making so much impact why don’t you start with your blog? 

See your blog as an opportunity to be all you can be and don’t hold back. This is a rare opportunity. Don’t miss use it. 

You can make money from your blog.

Who doesn’t like a little extra cash? With a proper plan and a winning strategy your blog can earn you extra cash or better still, it can become your source of livelihood. Do you doubt us? Ask Uche Pedro of Bella Naija and the other people making money from blogging.

Making money from your blog will require being intentional and consistent. If you are a once in a lifetime blogger, don’t expect to make so much money.

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Become a better writer

You know you can write but your writing isn’t there yet. It appears as if nobody wants to give you an opportunity but you have a blog and you don’t update frequently. Why is that?

Start writing on your blog. The more you write, the better your writing gets. Your blog is the best place to write unhindered and uncensored. Nobody is going to judge you it is your blog and you can do whatever you want with it.

Get a new family (online of course)

Friends are a blessing and blogging has showed us that we don’t have to meet all our friends the conventional way. You can meet great people online too. And if they are on your blog, you are more like the head of the family. It’s a family you created anyway!

Think blogging is tedious? These tips will help you commit to it

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When we talk to writers about starting a blog, we hear different excuses;

“I wouldn’t be able to sustain a blog.”

“I cannot commit to blogging.”

“What will I write?”

“Finding the time to sit down to write a blog post is what I find difficult.”

If you’ve ever given any of these excuses or a similar one, we are here to help you. Blogging is not as difficult as you think. With proper planning, you can sustain an engaging and long-lasting blog. Here are some tips that will help you commit to blogging;

Decide on a Schedule

You don’t have to publish every day. Choose a day of the week when you want to put up posts on your blog and stick to it. You can also schedule your blog posts weeks or months in advance. Don’t look alarmed; we’ll tell you how.

Write your content in advance

To schedule your posts weeks in advance, you must write them in advance. What you can do for example is to have a theme for the month and write all your blog posts relating to that theme and schedule them. This will work well if you choose a weekly schedule. If you intend to write daily, you can write the content a week in advance.

Have a list of blog ideas

You must be deliberate about sourcing for ideas if you want to sustain your blog. Create a folder on your computer and save links and pictures of ideas that inspire you. While scrolling through social media on your phone, take screenshots of things you like or articles that other people have written.

Start writing early

The best time to start writing is as early as possible. Carve out at least 2o or 30 minutes to write something. You might not necessarily use it on your blog but it will form a great pool where you can get ideas from later on.

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Create a series

Starting an exciting series on your blog is bound to get you committed and your readers glued to your blog. The reason is because they will be anticipating the next in the series and you will not want to let them down will you? When you implement the above tips, creating a weekly series will not be a challenge.

Have fun

Your blog is not a chore. It is a platform for you to express yourself as freely as possible and build a loyal following for your personal brand and business. Let your blog reflect who you are. Let it be a tool through which you educate people and add value into the lives of others.

If you need help creating a strategy for your blog, then send us an email – thesparklewritershub@gmail.com or you can give us a call and book a coaching session with our writing coach – 0817 016 6058.

Don’t forget to register for our #WritersHangout event. We’ll teach you all you need to know about building yourself as a successful writer over food, drinks and inspiring conversation 🙂