Below is what this post may have looked like had I not followed the advice of the 5 Quick Things to Improve Your Blog Posts. There's no difference in content, only a little tweak here and there on the presentation which makes it that little bit more appealing.
Use the More Tag
So simple and yet so many still don't do it. It allows people to scan through your blog roll easily to find articles of interest. If they have to scroll through each entire article many will get fed up and leave. If you give them an opening paragraph or two and maybe an image, it's a teaser and can entice them in. It also just looks neater and more manageable to the eye. You can change the wording to 'continue reading' or other variations if you prefer. Newspapers and magazines list their articles with a paragraph blurb about them on the content page to whet the browser's appetite. So should you.
A good image can transform your text into something that bit more approachable. It breaks up what would otherwise be quite dull blocks of text. Regardless of how good your prose might be, an occasional image can make it look more accessible and appealing. Just make sure they are copyright free, you attribute where they came from or you're legally allowed use the images. You can pay a small fee per image at places like iStockPhoto but there are free alternatives. You can search on Creative Commons on Wikipedia or search on other photo sharing sites such as the free sxc.hu. Or click here on Flickr and tick the box for "Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content". It depends on what you're looking for, but there are a wealth of usable images available to you.
Put In Plenty of Sub-Headings
Breaking your blog posts into smaller pieces makes them a lot easier to digest, it will flow and look better. Also I'd argue it makes you structure your thoughts to be that bit more logical. The other benefit is that with each sub-heading readers are primed for what's coming or intrigued depending on whether you go for descriptive or quirky/mysterious headlines. It should allow them greater attention to your writing, which means less likelihood of them leaving in mid-article. Use the headings bar, making it either "Heading 2" or "Heading 3" for example. For our posts on SelfAssemblySites blog, we use the latter. The point is, don't just make line of text bold.
Chop It Up Into Smaller Paragraphs
It's probably the simplest of all the points, but so often writers and bloggers have exhaustingly long paragraphs. James Joyce wrote for pages without a paragraph break or even a full stop, you and I are not Joyce. Chop it up and it suddenly looks far more readable and less daunting or dreary to the reader. Paragraphs that may look perfectly normal if you're an avid book reader aren't quite suitable to the web. All those clichés of reduced attention spans and visitors hitting the back button in a matter of seconds are fairly accurate. Overly long paragraphs are a small barrier to people feeling comfortable reading your work, why not remove as many barriers as you can?
Inter-link Your Own Posts
You may already be linking out to your sources which is great, if not, you probably should start. But one common error many bloggers make is not inter-linking to their own posts. Where relevant you should link back to old posts which touched on similar themes. Just hyper-link a few of the keywords not whole sentences and don't over do it by linking every paragraph. This also goes the other way. Go back to old blog posts and update them where relevant with links forward to your newer blog posts. The benefit is several fold. Your viewers will appreciate it as you've given them some further reading should they want it. Also it's positive for you with Google, as it tells them the content is still relevant and to re-index it.
If you're blogging, posting your opinions or thoughts to social media or other forums, sooner or later people are going to disagree with you. Some will be nice, some will be nasty. You just have to accept it. In fact, you could make the argument that if you're not getting enough bad responses then your content isn't as original and sparkling as you hope it is, so negative comments could be a good sign. As the common variation on Abraham Lincoln's saying goes
You can't please all the people all the time
Nor should you try! If you want fans of your writing and your content, you're going to have to have people that disagree with you, not just neutrals. If they're neutral it means they don't really care all that much.
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The US Air Force Flow Chart Solution
They say the US military have a manual for everything, it may be true with their recent infographic outlining how US Air Force personnel should engage with bloggers.
Although it was created to clarify how people in the organisation should handle negative stories, posts and opinions that they find about the USAF, it's still very helpful.
They wisely differentiate between types of unideal posts. Are they from someone who is reasonable and simply states a case of an opposing viewpoint sticking to the facts or are they highly emotional, ranting and venting?
They also urge their staff not to fly off the handle, but always take a little time and write a quality, measured response if a response is called for at all, good advice. Sometimes it's more suitable to just 'monitor'. For many normal people you could substitute 'monitor' for 'ignore'.
This analogy is about soccer. The value of a good analogy can be to find fresh perspectives and see things we're used to looking at in a whole new light. Since the news here is still awash with Manchester City's victory I thought it was ripe for a good analogy. Most professional sports could be seen as a microcosm of the wider business world, but for this case we'll concentrate on football.
Manchester City won their first Premiership title in 44 years. 'It's amazing what you can do with just over £1billion', say the more cynically minded. But you can't escape the obvious, for any company resources can make the difference. These clubs are companies, they compete for the premier league and other cup titles, but they also compete in the lucrative Asian and global markets for fans to sell merchandise to and for pay per view sports income. The better their football, the bigger their potential revenue.
As in any sector, that wealth of resources still needs to be well managed otherwise you'll come up short against more experienced opposition.
In this week's SelfAssemblySites web news round up: the test to gauge how addicted you are to Facebook, ten ways to motivate anyone, the new and beautiful Google+ iPhone app, the Oatmeal describes how to fix any computer and a Ted video shows us how to make choosing easier and more profitable.
iPhone Google+ (Flickr: charliecurve)
Psychologists Develop Tools to Measure Facebook Addiction
Psychologists in Bergen, Norway have created a method of gauging Facebook users' addiction to the social network. The studies show younger people, women and those less socially confident have increased likelihood of over use. Read the article.
10 Ways to Motivate Anyone
Geil Browning argues that greater autonomy and control is important for employees but disagrees with many thought leader such as Daniel Pink that all extrinsic motivators such as raises and bonuses are bad. When you understand an employee's thinking and behavioral preferences, you'll be able to maximize his or her enthusiasm, what moves one will leave another cold. This will help you get your workforce aligned and moving in the same direction, and you'll see incredible returns. Read the article.
One of the most common things people want to know, is how to successfully embed YouTube videos onto their WordPress sites. It's mostly straight forward, but there are one or two tricky issues that you can trip up on.
This Video Shows You:
How to Link to a YouTube Video
How to Embed a YouTube Video & the Most Common Mistake People Make
How to Embed a YouTube Video the Right Way
How to Embed Videos from Vimeo & Other Video Sharing Websites
View video here or Click on 'YouTube' in lower right corner to view on YouTube with time stamped chapters
The Key Mistake Not to Make
If you add the embed code in the HTML editor, and then switch back into the Visual editor, sometimes your video embed code disappears. Stay in the HTML editor, hit Publish or Update to make it go live, and only edit that post or page in the HTML editor from then on - so make adding the video the last thing you do.
In this weeks SelfAssemblySites Web News Round Up: Dilbert's app company, a top VC explains how to build a killer value proposition, things Pinterest aren't telling you, business intelligence comes to amateur sport, Facebook IPO share and an explanation of what an IPO actually is.
Pin It (Flickr: DrJohnBullas)
Top VC Explains How to Build a Killer Value Proposition
Michael Skok recently lectured to a group of students and aspiring entrepreneurs as part of a series of talks at the Harvard Innovation Lab and here are some of the key ideas. He examines the DNA of a value proposition by stripping it down to its foundational elements and reassembling it. Essential reading for anyone wanting funding. Read the article
4 Things Pinterest Isn't Telling You
Pinterest has quickly become a major player for social media referrals and business, especially if you're in the design, travel or retail sectors. The site refers more converted traffic than LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ combined and is the sweet spot of demographics for many companies. But there are some things that Pinterest seems to be less than forthcoming about. This you may want to know. Read the article.
MySpeed from Enounce lets you change the playback speed of Flash video without any loss of audio quality. (No chipmunk sound.) It’s like speed-reading for video. It works with all flash streaming video, saves you time, and for me creates greater engagement with video content. It basically allows you to take control of how you want to best view video online.
We often get asked about what tools we use most to enhance our work and time using the web. This is probably the one I use the most. I'll be using MySpeed at some point every single day that my computer is turned on. Like many great advancements it's surprisingly simple but its impact is immediate and a complete change, moving from one level of passive engagement to more customised and active engagement.
Click bottom right to view on Full Screen, or click 'YouTube' to view on Youtube page with Chapters.
In this week's SelfAssemblySites Web News Round Up: Charts detailing Apples monster second quarter earnings, LinkedIn's impressively different new iPad app, the NYC startup that's building stories from the social media noise, and the story of how one man beat a patent troll.
Apple's Latest Ferocious Quarter in 4 Simple Charts
Apple's second quarter earnings are out and they made pretty impressive reading. The world's biggest public corporation were just short of doubling profit from this quarter in 2011, to $11.6bn. The most remarkable insight was that Apple could have stopped selling everything on January 4th and still made more profit than Facebook for the entire quarter, scary stuff. Read the article and view the charts.
Gopogo Let's You Create, Share & Discover Location Based Stories
With so much social sharing going on, much of it just gets lost in the noise. NYC startup Gopogo are addressing this problem, with a geo-location platform for recording, sharing and discovering connected experiences. So a user might walk around a city visiting art galleries, cafes and other places of interest and create "Strings" which tell the story of their day through geo-tagged chronology, with photos, videos, and commentary. They can discover the experiences of others, by location, theme, or areas of interest. Read the article.
Yesterday my Google alerts brought my attention to an article which made my jaw hit the floor. I shouldn't have been so surprised but it was the extreme extent of the statistics that amazed me, it may amaze you too.
(Note: SMB's or Small and Medium Businesses is the term used in the US, in the UK & Ireland they're referred to as SME's, or Small and Medium Enterprises.)
SMB Digital Scope analysed over a million small business websites across 14 countries, with the majority of 700,000 of them in the US. Here are some of their key findings:
In this week's SelfAssemblySites Web News Round Up: Apple to have greenest data centre in the world, how to get Google to buy your startup, 5 Tips on Mobile Advertising for Small Business, the Khan Academy teaches kids genetics for National DNA Day and Dilbert's entrepreneurial dream.
Green Apple (Flickr: ReillyButler)
Apple Vows to Build The Greenest Data Centre in the World, "100% Renewable Energy"
Apple has broken ground on a brand-new data centre in Prineville, Oregon, one that the company is billing as even more environmentally friendly than the Maiden, North Carolina, facility that powers its iCloud. When the Maiden complex is completed, it will have biogas fuel-cell plant and a massive solar array that will collectively generate 12 megawatts of energy, or 60% of the data center’s requirements. But the plans for Prineville are even more ambitious. Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said that Maiden will soon be “the greenest data center ever built, and it will be joined next year by our new facility in Oregon running on 100% renewable energy.” Read the article
Want to Get Bought by Google? Google VP Explains How
David Lawee is Google’s vice president of corporate development, the latest in his string of high-profile positions at the search giant. As the company’s M&A leader over the past several years, he has been responsible for some of the company’s biggest acquisitions. He also started and sold four companies himself as an entrepreneur so when it comes to being acquired or making an acquisition decision on the other side of the table, few are more qualified to advise startups on how to get bought by a tech giant like Google. Read the article.
Mobile Advertising: 5 DIY Tips for Small Businesses