Category Archives: Uncategorized

10 Ways to Make Your Blog Post Stand Out

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How to write a great blog post

With the thousands of blog posts written each day, we need an edge to get readers to notice. Here are 10 ways to make your blog post stand out.

1. Title

Numbers are a great way to grab readers’ attention like 10 Choices…7 Mistakes…3 Funny…5 Ways to Avoid… Use phrases that make readers curious: What Every Writer Needs to Know, Lessons My Babysitter Never Told Me, How to Not Be Her, etc.

2. Pictures

Pictures grab attention. A good picture will make you curious, laugh, or at least trust the author. It can add to the story, complete the story, or compel people to read your post. If you include a description in the Alt Text box, it can enhance the discoverability of your post through image searches. Whenever possible, use your own pictures or purchase the license for the photo through stock photography sites like Canstockphoto, iStockphoto, or Shutterstock. Many images found on the web belong to someone and using them can be problematic.

3. Numbers or bullets

Using numbers and/or bullets make reading easier and breaks down our ideas into bite sized chunks. In our ADD world, lists make a post easy to read and digest.

4. Headings

Headings serve a similar purpose by allowing readers to scan your post for the most valuable info then read a deeper explanation, if desired. Instead of just using bold for the heading, use the Heading tags for greater impact.

5. Links to other resources

You can’t tell the whole story in one blog post. If readers are passionate about the topic, give them more! You can link to other posts on your site or send them to another blog or website. Readers reward bloggers who give valuable information and are a trusted resource. You don’t need to know everything. If you know someone who can elaborate, link to their site. Check the box to open in a new window so your reader can easily get back to your post.

6. Questions

Readers respond better when they are asked a question. Ask if they experienced your topic, had problems with X, have a better way to do Y, or how they feel about Z. Encourage feedback and join the conversation when they do. Thank them for their comments and ask more questions to keep the conversation going, if it seems appropriate. It’s a great opportunity to check out the blogs of your readers and consider following them.

7. Polls

Like questions, polls give your readers a reason to get involved. Use polls for research, for engagement, or just for fun. You can use yes or no questions like “Would you ever…” or multiple choice questions like “Chocolate or Vanilla.” Click on the link for more information about using WordPress polls.

8. Tags

Like a tree falling in the forest with no one around, a blog with no tags is hard to discover. Use tags and categories starting with general topic then list details in the post. To find out what readers are looking for, check out the Topics page and make sure one of your tags or categories include one of these main headings. Check out more information about WordPress categories and tags. ManageWP maybe says it best, “if categories are the table of contents for your blog, tags represent the index.”

9. Examples

Examples put the words into context. “Use a catchy title” has little meaning to someone learning how to create one. Read your blog post, or better yet, let someone else read your post and see if they understand what you are explaining. Use pictures, screen shots, or written examples to get your point across. If readers don’t understand what you are saying or how to ultimately do what you are teaching, they won’t come back for more.

10. Original Content

With all of the information on the internet, you might ask if it’s even possible to have something original to say. Fortunately, you have your own perspective on things. Even though people have written about blogging before, no one sits at your desk, looks out your window, and watches that one squirrel interact with that other squirrel. Your perspective on how to motivate people, inspire people, or entertain people is different. Turn a topic on its head and view it from a different angle. Be authentic. Care about the readers who take the time to read your posts and those readers will reward you with likes, follows, and shares.

Look at your most popular posts. What made them more popular? Was it the topic, how you delivered the content, or how it was tagged? I would love to hear from you!

Getting started in social media for Newbie Writers

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Many new and aspiring writers express anxiety about starting out in social media. We’ve all heard about the need for writers to have a platform. If you are like me, this may feel overwhelming. I recently heard the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer, of course, is one bite at a time.

Be visible

Set up an author page on Facebook. It’s ok to have a personal profile on Facebook, but an author page, even if you are not published yet, is essential. The same is true for Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or other social media platforms that speak to what you write about. Why do you need separate accounts? While it seems like twice the work, your followers don’t want to hear about your child’s recital and your family doesn’t want to be inundated with writing tips. You don’t have to be everywhere. Pick a couple of places to start and be consistent whether it’s once a day or once a week.

Give something of value

What do your readers want to know? Is it writing advice, party tips, or insight into how you picked the setting for your novel? Choose an angle and be known for it. It’s ok to stray from your primary purpose, but you will find consistent followers if readers know what they are signing up to read. Unless your book is about cats, don’t waste your time posting pictures of adorable animals. You don’t have to create all of the content yourself. Follow 10 (or 20) blogs, websites, or other sources of information and share that information and/or link with your readers.

Be present

If you want to be noticed, go out and introduce yourself. Comment on blog posts, like Facebook posts, follow and retweet interesting people and information on Twitter. Social media is about being there. You are hanging out around the proverbial water cooler. Listen as much as you talk and others will listen to you more when you do.

Be authentic

Don’t be afraid to be yourself. It’s ok that you have faults, misgivings, and unsightly warts. In fact, it’s what will make people trust you more. People want to hear that you struggle and celebrate just like they do.

Learn from the pros

Keep learning. Follow people who give advice that speaks to you. If you are new to social media, you don’t need HTML optimization tips for your self-hosted blog. Find writers, editors, agents, and bloggers that take you to the next level, whatever level that may be. Here are a few interesting places to start:

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/

http://janefriedman.com/blog/

http://www.writingforward.com/blog

http://www.litkicks.com/

In children’s writing try these:

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/

http://bluerosegirls.blogspot.com/

http://taralazar.com/

http://www.underdown.org/blog.htm

What are your main social media hurdles? Where do feel most comfortable? Let me know. I would love to hear from you.

The Almost Perfect Birthday Party

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The Juggling Hoffmans

birthday party guideI am very excited to say that I published my first ebook! The Almost Perfect Birthday Party: A sanity-preserving guide to planning a party your child will love is the gathered experience of many years in the children’s entertainment and event planning business. This book is for all of the moms and dads and other party planners who, like me, are a little less than perfect. You’ll get lots of tips to make the event go more smoothly, but more importantly a guide to help you and your child be happier in the end.

For the book launch this weekend, the book is FREE! On Saturday and Sunday only, you can hop on Amazon and download this book. It is available in the Kindle Store, but you don’t have to have a Kindle to read it. You can download the free Kindle app or read it on the Kindle Cloud…

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Writing When It Counts

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Writing with a messageWe’ve all been there. An issue nags us, tugs at us. We stay awake thinking about it or wake up brooding about it. Not sure of what to do, we turn to writing.

When the problems are small and personal, we write in our journals. It may just take a paragraph or a page, but it sometimes takes pages. After a while, we feel a little better. If not, we wake up the next day and write some more.

When the problems get bigger, the path is less clear. Our voices seem smaller and even feel mute. In your city or town or even on a larger scale, one little voice is hard to hear. As we found out in high school, we probably aren’t the only ones feeling like we do. That why it’s important to write.

Writing not only gives us a voice, it gives others permission to have a voice as well. A well placed letter to the editor will resonate with readers, evoking passions perhaps on both sides. This letter allows the more timid to speak up and the more vocal to focus. A letter to representatives, board members, or local leaders will solidify support for an issue or let them know your opposition.

There is a time to write because we love to and there is a time to write when it counts. Be active in your community, your schools, your neighborhoods. Lead with your actions and your words. Encourage others to use their voices, too. Dialogue can only happen when you are engaged.  Your message matters.  Speak up!

How has your writing been used to influence or persuade people?

Using Pinterest for Inspiration

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Just a week into using Pinterest, I’ve found it to be not only another way to suck time from busy day, but also to be a great source of inspiration for writing. Considering I’m a very visual thinker, Pinterest’s visual format is like coming home. Each picture has a story to tell. Listen closely and you’ll hear it, too.

Inspiration for Characters

Main Character

From Leotine de Hollander

Inspiration for Scenes

Setting or scene

From Nikoletaa Argirova

Obstacles for Characters

Obstacles for main character

From Umah

Inspiration for Villains

Villains

From Marlene

Have you found inspiration using Pinterest? I love hearing comments.