Tag Archives: blog tips

To Blog or Not to Blog?

Blog

Photo by Thomas Lefebvre on Unsplash

 

Audience: fellow writers, aspiring authors

 

As a writer, I’ve been told that I need to have a platform. For many writers, this means starting a blog. But for those of us writers who just want to write our novel and not get mired in keeping up with social media (which can be a job in and of itself), we feel that we have no options. After all, the first question we anticipate getting from a prospective literary agent is “What’s your platform?”

So I looked for advice on the web.

Why Blog—From the Writer Who Said Goodbye to Blogging covers one writer’s response to this issue. Publisher and author L.L. Barkat began years ago with myspace.com and eventually moved on to blogging to help promote her work. She found that the currency of the realm was “reciprocity” (commenting on other people’s blogs and posts to ensure she received the same). Eventually she became overwhelmed with the amount of time she was devoting to staying current with social media, and in 2012 she pulled the plug altogether. Her advice to writers was to avoid blogging from the get-go. After 6 years, she has returned to blogging, but with the caveat of turning off comments on all her posts. This has allowed her “a peaceful place for me and for my readers. And this is in line with the times.”

As an introvert, I must admit that I was immediately drawn to this concept of getting myself out there with a blog, but circumventing the draining aspects that go along with staying current. On the other hand, L.L. Barkat is an established author with an existing readership already in place, while I have yet to publish my first book. Could this also work for beginning writers?

I wanted to get another viewpoint, so I turned to our reading Social Media is Bullshit by B. J. Mendelson. He argues that social media is essentially an irrelevant waste of time, and that old-fashioned marketing advice is where you should actually begin placing your efforts:

“America is perceived as an every-man-and-woman-for-themselves kind of place, but it’s not. It’s a place where we look out for each other and take care of our own. And part of doing that is by calling out bullshit like ‘social media.’ […] The reason the generic stuff [old-fashioned marketing advice] works is it has all been done, proven, and tested since the time Jesus rode around on a Brontosaurus. On my desk right now is a second edition of How to Win Friends and Influence People. After reading almost every popular marketing book that’s come out since 2001, and this book, originally published in 1936, I can conclude one thing: If Dale Carnegie were alive today, he’d sue all these guys for plagiarism.”

Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the middle. While I intend to begin a blog on the recommendation of the author community in general, maybe it’s also not the worst idea to reach out to local brick-and-mortar media outlets and become my own publicist (or hire one if I can afford it).

Optimize Your Hyperlinks

You’ve been writing with passion, right? Do you want to provide your audience with upfront and helpful information when you provide links? Do you want to attract an audience? Forethought and strategy in the creation of hyperlinks can provide your readers with useful tools and can attract traffic to your site. Quiz: On which link would you rather click?

  1. Weather and meteorological events are predicted and reported with an entertaining spin in Kenny Blumenfeld’s blog, Weather and BS!
  2. Weather and meteorological events are predicted and reported with an entertaining spin in Kenny Blumenfield’s blog, Weather and BS!: http://www.kennyblumenfeld.com

A second comparison: On which link would you rather click?

  1. Since our readings covered the value of including a media page on a company’s website, let’s check on the latest news about Kenny Blumenfeld on his media page.
  2. Since our readings covered the value of including a media page on a company’s website, let’s check on the latest news about Kenny Blumenfeld on his media page: http://www.kennyblumenfeld.com/p/media.html

The verdict I think most would agree that links embedded in the flow of a sentence are more attractive than looking at a string of

  • colons
  • slashes
  • dubbyas and 
  • .coms or .orgs or .edus

especially if the URLs are extremely long, filled with seemingly endless strings of

  • numbers
  • ampersands
  • equal signs and 
  • question marks

In addition to the benefit that keyword links are cleaner than URL links, the keyword links in each example demonstrate the bonus of a secondary notation or Graphical User Interface (GUI) called a tooltip. Rest or “hover” your mouse over the links in the keyword links of each comparison and additional information will be displayed. Get in the mind of your audience In the first comparison, Weather and BS! includes a tooltip with the URL. Some of the readers in your audience may want to know where their click will send them before clicking on it. Would you want to know? In the second comparison, the tooltip for latest news about Kenny Blumenfeld displays the name of the website and the title of its internal page. I set it up this way to inform the reader that the linked phrase has a source, but I also wanted the tooltip to be descriptive. Since, your browser window should have a status bar at the bottom (or the option to turn it on) your readers can look there for the URL if they need to. Customize your links in any combination of keywords, phrases, URLs, and site name. The aim is to provide easy-to-read content in a way that makes sense to your audience. … And to attract an audience, right? Search engine optimization (SEO) findmeOne of the most important benefits of assigning a link to keyword phrase is its search-ability factor. Search engine algorithms are designed to recognize keyword phrases. If you want search engines to find your website and rank it high enough so that people will find it, you will want to put some thought into your links. Make the effort. Court Tuttle designed an SEO case study that showed a URL link (one that included a key phrase) ranked lower than the hyperlinked word, “here.” Ok. So how is it done? We are using WordPress for these assignments, so I will limit the instructions to the method offered through the toolbar. The following instructions will work whether you are in “visual” or “text” mode.

  • highlight the word or phrase you would like to link to another page, or website
  • click on the “Insert/edit link” icon
  • within the pop-up window, copy/paste the URL address of your link into the URL fieldWP Insert Link
  • type your tooltip phrase in the “Title” box
  • (optional) if you want the linked page to open in a new tab or window, click the checkbox to activate that command
  • click “Add Link” at the bottom of the window (or “Update” if you are editing an already established link)

The few extra keystrokes are worth it

  • Create tooltips to help your readers navigate to the information you’ve worked so carefully to provide.
  • Use keywords for your hyperlinks. Doing so will make your content easier on the eye, which means your entries are more readable, and it may improve your SEO to put you in a position to attract visitors to your site.

Let me know how it works for you!