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10 Ways to Drive Your Content to the Next Level of Blogging Excellence

February 20, 2012 | By Adrienne Smith

Content Blogging ExcellenceI’m so pleased to present my second guest post of the year which was written by the lovely Ruth Zive.  I’m sure you have all seen her in the comments and hopefully some of you are now regular visitors to her blog.  If not, you’re missing out!

I’m so thrilled she accepted my invitation to  write a guest post for us.  She is so very talented in her chosen field but I’ll let her tell you all about that.  Take it away Ruth…

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a copywriter.

Oh sure, I blog – on average, I probably write 20-30 blog posts every month! But mostly I write corporate communications materials for large companies. Boring stuff, like press releases, case studies, white papers, brochures and data sheets.

But my clients understand something really fundamental; it’s a principle that defines the focus of my blog and has essentially characterized the success of the most prolific bloggers you encounter.

Strategic, pointed, dynamic content, that is shared properly, drives business results.

Stated differently, a solid content marketing strategy works.

Period.

And if you understand how to craft content in a way that resonates – you can use this same principle to achieve blogging excellence.

And I’m going to help you do it with some actionable advice!

Start with an outline

A pretty simple starting point, but you would be surprised with how many people skip this step altogether. You want to draw your readers in and an outline ensures that your content flows strategically.

Tell a relatable story

Don’t just tell any story. Tell a story that will elicit emotion from your readers – share an experience that is relatable.

When I share, for example, that my son almost drowned in our swimming pool when he was an infant – it immediately creates a sense of connection. Now, if I take that very powerful story, and write about the life lessons I learned as a result…magic.

Share your personality

When I am writing for a client, I tailor the tone of my content to their unique brand. Every piece of content marketing material should have personality.

Even more so with a blog!

Your blog reflects your brand. Inject it with personality. When I read Adrienne’s blog, I can hear her Texas drawl through the words. Her personality is all over that content! Don’t hold back; be yourself and let your best qualities shine.

Think outside of the box

Blogs are a dime a dozen these days. EVERYONE and their brother is blogging! You need to stand out, and the easiest way to do that is with your words.

Take on a controversial subject; challenge conventional wisdom; package your content creatively – use a variety of media, like video or podcasting or infographics. Be different!

Keep it short and sweet

In my opinion, a good blog post is 400-1000 words. There are those who disagree, but I think that blogs should be meaningful snippets that can be consumed during a quick coffee break.

Make it scan-able

Most people don’t actually read content on the Internet start to finish. They scan.

And that’s a fact.

If you break up your paragraphs with lots of white space, include bullets, short sentences and headers then it is much more likely that your post will be read.

Be helpful

In addition to providing amusement, your blog content should be helpful. Provide a takeaway, a tip, a piece of advice or a meaningful lesson.

Always include a call to action

You don’t want your content to be entirely open ended. Be mindful of your goal – are you trying to drive the reader to another website? Are you hoping to sell something? Did you want the reader to subscribe?

At the end of your post, or throughout the content, be very clear with your intentions. Ask the reader to do exactly what you want them to do (e.g. – Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog by putting your email address in the box to the right!)

Don’t edit your work

Okay, that’s a lie.

Of course you should edit your work. You should edit very carefully. But resist the temptation to edit until you are finished writing a first draft. Your content will sound much more authentic as a result.

Create conversation

The point of a blog is to engage your readers – build relationships and elicit a sense of investment.

Ask questions; post your content to discussion groups and forums; host polls and surveys and encourage comments!

And one for good luck

Don’t confuse content marketing and inbound marketing.

This trips people up all the time!

The former is the creation of meaningful, compelling and consistent content that targets a prospect through the entire sales cycle.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is about getting found online, through search engine vehicles and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

While closely related, they are not the same. And when you craft your content, you want to have both goals in mind, without confusing the two.

Now For Your Comments

So did you enjoy the post?  Ruth and I would love to hear your thoughts on what she has shared so please feel free to ask her any questions because Ruth will be by to answer those for you.

We all know just how important content is for our blogs and Ruth is definitely the person to help you in this area so don’t be bashful.  Let’s take advantage of Ruth’s generosity so if you have any questions at all, now’s the time to ask.

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by today and I want to especially thank Ruth for sharing this post with us today.  She is definitely the expert in this area and I’m honored that she is now sharing her expertise with us all.

Ruth Zive

Ruth is a freelance copywriting and content marketing strategist.

She is a mom to five (plus pooch), Ashtanga yoga devotee, designer handbag enthusiast, special needs advocate and vegetarian chocoholic. You can find her over at Xpressly.ca.

Ruth Twitter | Ruth Facebook | Ruth Google+ | Ruth Blog

 

{ 185 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Christian Hollingsworth
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 8:10 AM

These are some wonderful thoughts Ruth.

What I love best is your recommendation to keep things personal, lively, and filled with the human element of emotion! Sure makes reading business copy so much more intriguing and believable.

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2 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:16 AM

Thanks Christian for the comment and it’s always a pleasure to see and hear from you.

Ruth definitely knows her stuff so I love that she recognizes that even business copy doesn’t have to be boring. :-)

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3 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:27 AM

Aw, Christian – you are the master at keeping things personal and authentic, so that comment really means a lot!

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4 Chrysta Bairre
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 8:16 AM

Great post and on my two year bloggiversary I can say I’ve tried most of this advice and it has worked for me!

The one thing I don’t always do is create an outline. Sometimes I sit in front of the page and know what I want to write about, but not what I want to say. If I don’t have a concrete idea, sometimes I’ll just start writing and go back and edit later. My post on patience was one where I wasn’t sure what I was going to say until I started writing and it’s one of my most popular posts!

I also don’t always share a personal story and it depends on the post if I feel a personal story is needed. Sometimes I leave out a story to keep the blog post at a manageable length. I’ve had successful posts with and without stories, though overall I do write to share my experience even if the story behind the lesson learned isn’t always specifically written.

Lots of great tips! Thank you for sharing!

Chrysta

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5 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:20 AM

That’s wonderful to hear Chrysta!

I’m with you there, I don’t write outlines for my posts. I have my topic and I have some ideas so I just let my fingers do the typing. So far it’s worked well but if you’re in a more specific niche, I can see where it would really be more beneficial to write outlines.

I think that sometimes the stories add a little something but like you, I may not always have one to put in there. But I do use my own experiences of what I’ve learned so a lot of times I am sharing that side of it.

Thanks Chrysta for your visit this morning and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you. I hope you have a fabulous week.

~Adrienne

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6 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:28 AM

Okay…okay…I admit that I don’t ALWAYS write an outline. Especially considering how much copywriting I do, it’s a step that is too easy to skip. But, I will say this – when I DO take the time to write an outline, the writing process is so much easier, and I really feel that the results are much more solid.

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7 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:35 AM

lol… And the truth comes out! I can only imagine how much you do write Ruth. But like you said, it can really benefit you and I really should give it a go. Okay, we’ll see! :-)

Thanks for this post, love it!

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8 Jamella Biegel
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:18 AM

Hi Ruth,

I am looking for a way to print this post. This is one of the best blog posts that I’ve read. What you have shared is useful for seasoned bloggers and newbie bloggers like me. I especially appreciate your pointing out the difference between content marketing and inbound marketing. Big difference :)

I try to write my posts from a personal viewpoint because I know I like reading posts like that. As you pointed out Adrienne is good that way with her posts.

Thanks so much for sharing. This is good stuff!

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9 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Wow…I’m so flattered Jamella, especially since Adrienne has so many incredible, helpful posts on her blog! Feel free to be in touch with me directly if you have any questions.

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10 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Glad to hear this was a great Jamella. Ruth is definitely the pro when it comes to this subject which is why I really wanted her to share her expertise with us all.

I appreciate your comment and I’m sure she’ll be by to respond as well.

Thank you so much and enjoy your week.

~Adrienne :-)

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11 Peggy Baron February 20, 2012 at 8:37 AM

Hi Ruth,

I totally agree with you on every point, especially about having an outline, making it scan-able, being helpful, telling a story, including your personality… and everything else. :)

Thanks for sharing.
Peggy

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12 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:21 AM

Hi Peggy,

I have no doubt you do all that Ruth suggested and that’s why you have so much success with your business. We should take lessons from you too!

Always a pleasure to see you. :-)

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13 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:29 AM

Ditto to what Adrienne said :-)

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14 Hajra
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:58 AM

Hey Ruth,

This is such a wonderful guest post! Yayyy for you! :)

I liked the part about making it real and human; we tend to get caught up in the craze to be “perfect” that we might miss out on certain aspects that reach out to the audience. When I was doing my literature classes in college, my professor always told me that there has to be a story somewhere. Only if there is a story, will there be a good connection. People relate to it, they feel as if it is them in the post and that arouses interests and opinions.

I don’t create an outline properly, but I do have ideas and key points noted on a piece of paper. That always helps me in writing the whole post.

Also, I would like to ask you this. Lori asked me this a few days ago and I was pretty clueless on how to actually answer this. There is a way by which we can encourage comments – ask questions, ask opinions at the end and so on; but how do we make readers actually “talk” to each other rather than just to us. You know like read other comments, comment on them, discuss, debate and so on. Is it more individualistic (on the person who is reading and is interested in reading other comments) or is there a way writing can influence that?

Loved this post! Hope you have a lovely day! You too, Adrienne! :)

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15 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 10:11 AM

Hi Hajra,

Sorry, you know I have to respond.. Your college professor was right and I love hearing that he shared that with his class. When I was starting out I didn’t think that people would want to hear my stories. Live and learn right! Darn good thing too! :-)

Good question for Ruth on the conversations in the comment section Hajra and I’ll look forward to what she has to share. Thanks for that question too.

Thank you for your contribution to this conversation Hajra and it’s always a pleasure to see you young lady.

Now, enjoy your week.

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16 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 10:12 AM

You know what Hajra – sometimes, my ‘outline’ is just a few bulleted points on a sticky note that I keep near my computer for reference. I don’t think you need to invest hours developing a comprehensive and detailed outline. But I think that if you take even just five minutes to think through your post’s tone, subheads and key messages, you will end up with a much stronger result.

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17 Carolyn
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:22 AM

Hi Ruth and Adrienne, Excellent post! These are great points, I especially believe in outlines. It’s the best way for me to organize my thoughts and make sure I cover all of the bases in my article.

I like your Don’t Edit advice. As if! My biggest challenge is pulling the trigger and pressing the Publish button. Sometimes I feel as if I can edit for years but at some point I have to take a deep breath and declare my article ready for the public. What amazes me is how looking at a draft in the morning gives me such a different perspective from looking at it the night before. Actually, it can be kind of scary as I catch issues I didn’t see before.

Thanks for sharing your magic with us, Ruth! And thank you, Adrienne, for having Ruth over here at your place today!

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18 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:33 AM

Hi Carolyn,

Thank you, I also agree that Ruth did an excellent job as well.

I agree with you there Carolyn, I can edit something to death. Writing it and then saving it as a draft to come back and look at it the next day you really can find some mistakes you overlooked the day before. That’s why I don’t like being in a rush to write my posts.

My pleasure Carolyn and so glad she accepted.

Enjoy your week!

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19 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:33 AM

You know what, Carolyn – I think that the best editing strategy is to write the post, walk away for a little while (even leave it over night) and then edit AFTER you have created that space and distance. I agree – you have new perspective after you’ve left it for a little while. I am SO guilty of over-editing; sometimes it’s even a procrastination strategy. So I really try hard to resist the temptation and I just churn out the content and leave it for a while. Then my edits are much more constructive.

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20 Jen
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:31 AM

It all goes back to good content. If you write what resonates with your niche, you will make an impact. The other important thing is consistency and focus. I’m still struggling with that and my traffic numbers reflect it. No one said it would be easy.

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21 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:36 AM

Absolutely Jen and I can’t think that you don’t have focus. Consistency is sometimes what a lot of people fall down on. The traffic numbers will definitely be good if you consistently write content and you blog is fabulous. :-)

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22 Pauline Bennett
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:52 AM

Hi Ruth & Adrienne

I must admit I had not thought of sharing a personal story but it makes such good sense to do this now that you have mentioned it, I will try to do this in future I think it will be a good way for my readers to get to know more about me.
I like your “Don’t Edit” advice too as when I first started out I would write my post then change it quite a few times the more I read through it when I am sure it was fine with the first draft, I have tried to stop this practice now and be firm with myself and just hit publish!
Thanks for sharing
Have a great day
Pauline

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23 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Hi Pauline,

Adding your personal touch through a story definitely helps your readers connect to who you really are. It makes you more relate-able in my opinion.

I know about the editing too Pauline and I’ve finally gotten to the point where I don’t over do it. In the beginning though, I was horrible.

Glad you enjoyed Ruth’s post and picked up some tips.

Have a great week!

~Adrienne

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24 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 10:09 AM

Pauline, Adrienne is actually the master at sharing personal stories and references. Did you know that she is an Engagement Superstar :-). Seriously – the more you can reveal a little bit about yourself (without being inappropriate) and infuse your writing with a sense of personality (even in the most ‘corporate’ materials) the more likely that your readers will feel engaged.

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25 Steve
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:59 AM

Ruth,

First of all, your tips on content marketing are wonderful, but I specifically liked your definitions of content marketing and inbound marketing. I see people talk about these all the time and get the basic idea of each wrong.

I think people really follow your copywriting tips are going to have a lot better blog posts in the future. :)

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26 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Thank you for that Steve and she does know her stuff. She has to set me straight quite often! :-)

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27 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 10:13 AM

As if, Adrienne! You don’t ever need to be ‘set straight’! But I appreciate your comments Steve – when I first started consulting about content marketing, I have to admit that I was also confused about inbound marketing and the distinction between the two. Once you understand it, you can actually leverage both resources in an integrated and really effective way.

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28 Fabrizio Van Marciano February 20, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Hey Ruth, you have outlined some valuable points here, something that we can all relate to as it’s so easy to fall out of focus when creating content on a consistent basis, so thank you.

For me what stands out the most are starting with an outline or a foundation, thinking out of the box and being unique with your content creation, and creating conversations. These three are essential elements can be very powerful for taking your content to the next level. Thanks once again, I look forward to more of your posts on Adrienne’s blog :)

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29 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 10:21 AM

Thank you for your comment Fabrizio and so happy to hear that you’ve enjoyed Ruth’s post. Be sure to check out her site as well because she’s written a killer post just today. She’s actually sharing the steps she took to land a big client! Oh boy, she’s spilling the beans for us.
:-)

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30 Sylviane Nuccio
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 10:26 AM

Hi Ruth,

I have actually studied and wrote about the subject of “attracting readers by ticking their emotion”. It is true that if you manage to reach people emotionally whatever you write will be a hit.

As you mentioned, it’s
very important to tailor your writing to you client. I write a lot as a ghost and freelance writer and I totally agree with that.

Editing your writing before you are done with the writing is a mistake because it can and many times will take you off track and you will lose your drive. This is something all writers need to fight on a constant basis.

Thanks for those great tips :)

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31 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 10:42 AM

I was wondering about your thoughts on this topic Sylviane since you are also a freelance writer. Glad to hear that you agree with what Ruth has laid out here.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Always a pleasure to hear from you! :-)

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32 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 10:55 AM

Phew…I’m also relieved that Sylviane agrees! If you want to tap into your reader’s emotions, you need to know your audience. Also a critical strategy :-).

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33 Sylviane Nuccio
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 3:21 PM

Adrienne, It seems that we didn’t have to do too much this time, you and me:) I have also just published today a guest post from one of my online connections who is a professional writer. I love her writing and love Ruth’s as well. I’ve been checking her up before. That’s great relief for both of us, and it brings some freshness to our blogs :) Doesn’t it?

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34 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 3:27 PM

I just left a comment on your blog too Sylviane and found that you had a guest as well. I must admit knowing that I don’t have to write my post once a month has been kind of fun actually. Plus I do love having my blogging friends share their knowledge with my readers too. It does break things up, you’re right! Just enjoy it while we can right!

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35 Ilka Flood
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 10:58 AM

Hi Ruth and Adrienne,

Love, love, love those tips! I think sharing your personally it a biggie. You want to sound like “you” in your writing because it’s “your voice” that’s connects you with your audience.

I have to admit, I’m one of those people who skipped the first step. Until recently I did not write an outline first. I just sat down and started writing whatever came to mind. Of course later during the editing part I put it all in order.

Thank you for these amazing tips!

Ilka

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36 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 11:03 AM

Hi Ilka,

So glad to hear that and I also agree with you about putting your personality in your posts as well as telling stories if they relate.

I think a lot of us are guilty of not writing an outline but I do write down my thoughts on what the topic will be about and to me it’s just easier to start writing. Guess you can tell I’m no pro! :-)

Thanks for your comment, it’s always greatly appreciate.

Enjoy your week.

~Adrienne

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37 Shamelle
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 11:05 AM

I think its all too important not to sound too “salesy” and be authentic.
“Market things to people the way you would want them to be marketed to you” is something I try to live by.. its difficult.. but at the end of the day makes a huge difference…

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38 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 11:37 AM

That’s a great way to look at this Shamelle and it took me awhile to actually “get it”. I kept being told that it’s not about me… You have to cater to what others want but I always came back to how would I want to view this. Guess it ended up working in the end.

Appreciate your comment.

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39 Juan G Garcia February 20, 2012 at 11:13 AM

Oh, my Goddess, I wish I could write something halfway intelligent, but I can. The quality of the posts I’ve read on this blog, let me completely overwhelmed and crushed. The quality of the comments, or at least 99% of them are shocking. I feel like a little boy in his first kindergarten class, and actually I have 60 years with extensive experience in technology, nearly 15 years, and trying to start this new passion that is AFFILIATES. So much I fell so I refuse to input the name of my website or my humble blog. The difference would be staggering and in which I would lose. I will keep reading and trying to learn, and if I were 10 years old boy I would like to say: “I wish I could write that way when I grow up.”

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40 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 11:41 AM

Hey Juan,

Ruth definitely knows how to write my friend but look at it this way. She’s trying to help us all become better writers by sharing with us all what she knows works.

I think we all started in the same place and a lot of us never considered ourselves writers so don’t you dare beat yourself up. I just chalk this up as yet another learning experience.

Hope you’ll share you blog with us in the near future. Until then, have a wonderful week.

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41 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 11:56 AM

Adrienne is right, Juan. Just keep practicing – there are great free resources online that can help you to hone your writing skills. Not everyone can be a PHENOMENAL writer – but everyone can improve, for sure!

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42 Morris
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 12:37 PM

Your first point to start with an outline is so very important. And it is so easy to do. It’s just a matter of opening a Word document, pouring a cup of coffee and turning on the tunes.

When you write your outline first, it is so easy to fill in the blanks and in no time at all you have a 400-1000 word article.

Ruth, what is a designer handbag enthusiast?

Check out my Shanghainese Seasoned Oil recipe.

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43 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 1:15 PM

Oh sure, easier said then done Morris. I certainly can’t concentrate with the tunes going on in the background. Oh my!

I just start writing and it just flows. When I’m thinking about a particular topic it just comes easy for me.

I’ll let Ruth tell you about her handbags.

Thanks Morris and hope your sister is doing a little better today! Been praying for her.

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44 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Do you know you are the first person (since I started blogging) to ask me about my handbag ‘enthusiasm’. I suppose it’s more of an addiction…I have a collection of about a dozen very high end handbags; and I obsess about them! And I’m a loyal reader of the Purseblog. I can identify just about any designer handbag from a mile away – I can tell you the year, the name, the color…It’s a sickness, really.

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45 Praveen Rajarao
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 12:25 PM

Hello Ruth & Adrienne…Wonderful post and thanks for publishing it Adrienne.

I liked the “scan-able” point of yours very much and the real time example of the same is this very post itself. If you just scan down the article, you get all that is there to say in here. Awesome sub-headings and gives a lot of meaning about what the author wants to say.

Thanks for sharing such wonderful thoughts on content marketing and how itz important. Both of you rock!!!

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46 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 12:31 PM

Thank you Praveen for sharing your thoughts and I’m so very honored to have Ruth writing for us today. We can all learn from her experience.

Have a great week Praveen.

~Adrienne

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47 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 1:22 PM

Thanks for noticing Praveen that I ‘practice what I preach’ :-)

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48 Jens P. Berget
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Hi Ruth and Adrienne,

I was thinking of Ruth’s banana cake, and now she’s here delivering awesome content :)

I really love the fact that companies are becoming more personal by focusing on content marketing. I want companies to stop hiding behind logos, I want to look at the faces of the people working there, and I want to hear their stories and listen to what they have to say. That’s what we can do with content marketing.

I’d love to read more about the difference between content marketing and inbound marketing. I am focusing on inbound marketing for my new business, but a mix of the two is what I’m really aiming at.

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49 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 1:17 PM

Hey Jens,

Her post was awesome on her blog wasn’t it! I love her video and so glad she is sharing that particular journey with her readers.

I have no doubt that’s what you’ll do with the marketing for your first client too Jens. I can see you putting a more personal touch on a company that is already doing so well. I’m so excited for you and your journey.

That’s a topic I think a lot of us would like to get a better grip on. Guess if she doesn’t share that on her blog I’ll have to get her to come back.

Thanks Jens and enjoy your week.

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50 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 1:26 PM

Jens, I ended up making an apple cake and a streusel topped coffee cake. No bananas that were ripe enough :-).

Still yummy though.

As for inbound marketing vs. content marketing, Marcus Sheridan has great resources. I’m still learning myself about how the two tools are best integrated. Once I’ve mastered the distinction, I can do a follow up post :-)! (If Adrienne will have me)

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51 Claude Nougat
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 12:51 PM

A wonderful post and a well-deserved avalanche of comments! I hesitated to add my own, but then, ok, here I am, taking the plunge! I would agree with every single thing you say…except for drawing an outline! Yes, coming from someone like me, an economist and serious (read super boring) writer all my life, that may come as a surprise, but I really do think that outlines for blog posts don’t really work. There’s a real danger that they will make your stuff look so coherent, rational…and boring!

After all (at least that’s the way I see it) a blog post ought to be like a chat by the fireside. Relaxed, chummy, undirected. At least for me that’s what works best! I’m not saying I manage to do that everytime. I’m just saying that’s what I’m looking for. Because if I want well-thought out, well-constructed arguments, I turn to the New York Times!

Ok, there I’ve started an argument and I’m looking forward to the discussion: is an outline needed for a blog post, yes or no?

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52 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 1:21 PM

You better add your own comment Claude. I know I want to continue to learn from all you writers. You guys blow me away with your content. I’d love to be in your brain when you get ready to write.

I’m not good at writing outlines either but I also know they’ll only be boring if you make it that way. I think that writing outlines to help better organize your thoughts with your post can be very helpful for many. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t add you into the mix and spice it up some. I think really what works best for the individual.

There is my two cents worth anyway! :-)

Thanks for contributing Claude, always a pleasure to hear from you.

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53 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 1:31 PM

Claude, if you read a few comments up, you’ll see that I actually admitted to not always using an outline when I’m blogging on my own site. I agree that sometimes a stream of consciousness approach can be more authentic. However – even a few bullet points or subhead topics jotted on a sticky note can make a big difference in keeping you on track When I do take the time to do that, I really think that the results are stronger. It doesn’t have to be a sophisticated process – I just think that it’s easy to derail from the key messaging and some preemptive thought can be helpful. When I’m doing work for my clients, I always use an outline.

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54 Carolyn
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 5:42 PM

Hi Claude, I think the difference between our points of view is probably due to the subject matters of our blogs. I have an instructional blog that is published on the website of a major metropolitan newspaper once a week, so I have to make sure I cover all the bases when I write an article. An outline helps me tremendously.

If I were to write a conversational blog, such as Bill Dorman’s I probably would skip the outline as I would want my posts to be more “train of thought.”

I try to include stories and write in a conversational tone to make my articles fun and interesting, but I still rely on outlines.

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55 Jeevanjacobjohn
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 1:05 PM

Hey Ruth,

Great Points!

Starting with an outline – Well, I have recently wrote a guest post about why you shouldn’t start with an outline/plan before you write. When I write, I don’t plan at all (except when I am writing essays for my college classes). I believe in the principle that starting with an outline blocks your creativity – If you plan before you write, It is harder for you to come up with new ideas while writing. Note: I have tried writing with and without outline and the latter works best for me. Of course, I realize that the case might be different for others.

Stories – Yes, including a back story can help you to make your readers loyal to your blog posts. I also agree with you on the personality. I have read some blog posts in which they have the same information, but it is interesting and entertaining to read, because they presented it in a different way – using your personality.

About post length – I really don’t care whether a post is long or short – all I care is that the post is informative and entertaining to read. Of course, that might not be the case for other readers.

Yes, I also agree with all your other points. It is important to make your blog posts easy to scanable, include call to actions and creating conversation.

Thanks for the awesome post,

Jeevan Jacob John

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56 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Hey Jeevan,

Claude had the same thoughts, outlines don’t work for blogging. I also have to agree with whatever works best for the individual. I personally don’t write outlines myself but that’s just me.

Thank you for contributing to this topic Jeevan. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Will look forward to hearing what Ruth has to share.

Enjoy your week!

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57 Jeevanjacobjohn
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 7:32 PM

Thanks for the reply, Adrienne :)

No problem :) Yeah, I am just waiting for Ruth’s thoughts on my comment.

You too, Adrienne!

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58 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 7:50 PM

I think we’re wearing her out here Jeevan… She’s not use to this many comments. I’ll make sure she sees that one.
:-)

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59 Jeevanjacobjohn
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 7:56 PM

No problem :) Yeah, I can understand ;) I am tired too, have been trying to do a commenting challenge – 100 comments each day for this week (I did aim big, but it is working as I expected since I didn’t really have a plan – so, we do need “planning” for things other than writing).

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60 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 8:43 PM

I’m here! Sorry for the delay Jeevan. It’s true that over-editing and over-outlining your content can stifle your creativity and authenticity. But at the end of the day, I still recommend some measure of preparation and planning over straight stream of consciousness writing. I think it yields a better end result.

As for the length of the post, that partly depends on your own voice and the interests of your readers. And you know that better than anyone else. I tailor the length of my content with those two considerations in mind.

I hope that makes sense and that I’ve helped you think it through a bit. Let me know if you have other questions Jeevan!

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61 Jeevanjacobjohn
Twitter:
February 22, 2012 at 7:41 AM

No problem, Ruth!

Yeah, I have seen the power of planning working for many of my fellow bloggers. I have tried planning, but it just doesn’t work for me.

Alright, thanks for the reply! Appreciate your time.

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62 Annie Andre
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 1:15 PM

Ruth,
I really loved this article it helps to reinforce the techniques i’ve been working on for my blog.
I have a question. You said to use an outline to write out blog posts which i never do. I really want to though. Can you share with us a simple blog structure that we can use. I’ve read about the pyramid structure which i try to use. I’m sure you’ve heard about it where you write the most tantalizing pieces of information first. I would love to get your feedback on this. And any other helpful rule of thumb for the structure of a post in general.

Thanks.

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63 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Great question Annie! I’m quite surprised by how much attention the notion of an outline has generated.

I don’t really use any of those trendy formulas. I’m more interested in making sure that my blog posts do the following:

* Include a really strong headline and first sentence
* Provide actionable, meaningful advice
* Share a personal reference or anecdote
* Use subheads that segment the material in an easy-to-read way

So when I develop my outline fro my blog posts, I’m usually jotting down notes that relate to these deliverables. For instance, with this post, my ‘outline’ (which was, by the way, jotted down on the back of my daughter’s report card, ugh!) included a bullet for each one of these points, a note about my son’s near drowning experience, and a few ideas for a headline.

I think that for your personal blog, you don’t want to be too ‘stuffy’, but you just want to make sure you are covering all of the ground that you intended to cover. Make sense?

I hope that answers your question.

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64 Jack
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 1:27 PM

Hi Ruth. I really liked this.

The blogosphere is filled with an extraordinary amount of junk about how to write a better blog post but relatively few provide truly useful tips. I am a big fan of including passion and personality in a post.

Your comment about not editing really addresses that because so many people edit the life out of their stories. I want to hear their voice when I read. It helps build a connection.

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65 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 1:42 PM

You’re the pro on writing too Jack! I have a feeling you two would get along fabulous! :-)

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66 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 8:40 PM

I agree Jack – you can edit your unique voice right out of your content! And then you are left with dry, stale copy that leaves no impression whatsoever!

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67 Deeone Higgs
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Hi Ruth and Adrienne,

These were very insightful tips you’ve shared, Ruth. I have incorporated a lot of these on my site, but I certainly see where there is room for even more improvements. Heck, there’s always room for improvement. :)

One of the topics I’ve been working on doing better about is keeping my post short and sweet. I’ve always been a long winded type of writer, so blogging has introduced me to another way of going about doing things. Only a few of my earlier pieces were over 1000 words, and they usually didn’t get that many views at all. I haven’t gone over 1000 words since last year, and I hope to get them even shorter as I grow as a writer.

I also see where making the post scan-able would prove to be beneficial as well.

I’ve never done an outline for any of my post, and honestly never really knew what the point of doing one would be. On top of that, I have very little experience in creating one. That’s more the reason than their being a point for them to me. I have tried to come up with one for my current projects, but rarely ever look at the thing unless I’m completely lacking in the direction I want to take things. Would you say that’s the only purpose they serve?

All in all, I think you provided us with a great road map to taking our blogging experience to the next level. Thanks for sharing Ruth, and thank you Adrienne for bringing her aboard. :)

Have a great week ladies. :)

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68 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Hi Deeone,

I love your long posts Deeone, but I love what you share and you keep us captivated in your words. But I can see where people don’t actually have a lot of time to sit here and read long posts all day long. I know I don’t yet I find my posts getting rather long too. I have tried my best to break them up more and use subheaders but I’m nowhere near where I should be either.

My pleasure Deeone for having the lovely Ruth share her copywriting knowledge with us all. I know we all could stand some room for improvement and this is the area that I would concentrate on as well as videos.

Always a pleasure to see and hear from you Deeone. You have a great week okay! :-)

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69 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Deeone, I think that especially if you tend to write longer posts, and outline is really helpful at keeping you on point. Without an outline, you might be more inclined to go off on a tangent or incorporate content that isn’t really critical to your core message.

Having goals and high level messaging in mind, when you START writing, keeps you clearer, more succinct, more pointed and more effective.

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70 Craig McBreen
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 4:30 PM

Hi Ruth,

Man, I discovered your blog today and now I find you hang out at Adrienne’s place. How cool is that? And, great piece here.

Thanks for clarifying the difference between content marketing and inbound marketing, that can be a confusing issue and I’m often confused about more than a few things. ;)

I enjoyed the content and will be checking out your place more in the future. Some great, actionable advice here. And I’m always looking for copywriting tips.

Heck, between you and Adrienne, I might have it ALL covered.

Thanks!

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71 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 5:06 PM

You are too kind Craig… So glad you just bumped into Ruth and you’re going to love what she shares at her place. You’re in for a treat my friend.
:-)

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72 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 4:35 PM

Hey…fancy seeing you here :-).

Adrienne virtually has it covered all on her own, but she was kind enough to let me sneak in a word or two. I’m glad you found the post to be useful, I really wanted to provide very practical advice that readers could use in their every day blogging pursuits.

Look forward to seeing more of you Craig!

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73 Hiten
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Hi Ruth,

I loved your post. Thank you. And thanks Adrienne for having Ruth guest post on your blog.

I totally agree with your point about making our content relatable. From my experience, I’ve found readers have left far more comments at posts where I’ve included a story with emotion, as opposed to when I haven’t, where I’ve had hardly any comments.

Thanks again Ruth.

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74 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 5:07 PM

My pleasure Hiten, I’m so glad she accepted. Her advice was spot on.

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75 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 5:18 PM

Aw, c’mon Adrienne, how could I say no? For one thing, your readers are so incredibly lovely! For another…this is great exposure and I feel very much at home. And lastly – you were largely responsible for my persistence here in the blogosphere, so I owe you…big time!

Glad you liked the post Hiten!

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76 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 5:38 PM

I’m so very glad you didn’t say no Ruth. I just know how terribly busy you are. I do hope you’ll get some new readers from this experience because I know for a fact you have a lot to teach us all. So glad you’re feeling right at home here. I do believe I have some of the best blogging friends online. Glad you’re able to participate and meet them all. :-)

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77 Dan Sumner
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 5:55 PM

Hey Ruth,

Thanks for the great tips.

I am working late tonight and at this point I am sitting in front of my computer about to start writing. I had decided on one post tonight then, I decided to write another?

I thought I would stop by and check out your post before I started, and as it turns out your post is very timely indeed thank you.

My alternative post for tomorrow was to be a pillar post to fit in with the latest update to my blog. I will try to ‘keep it short and sweet’ but with it being a pillar post I’m not too sure how long it will be.

I used to use Word/Pages for writing my blog posts, but until 4 weeks ago I now use a program called IA Writer for Mac. This allows my to write very easily without being put off by sidebar’s and red typo lines, allowing me to just ‘write’ and edit later. Edit later is definitely a great tip Ruth.

Thanks for the writing tips just before I start.

@Adrienne – I like the new sidebar opt-in graphic.

Thanks,

Dan

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78 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 6:18 PM

Glad this post was timely Dan and hope you aren’t working too terribly late.

Glad you like my opt-in change. Was playing around a bit this weekend. Still need to work on it but for now, that will do.

Thanks Dan!

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79 Dan Sumner
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 6:39 PM

I think I have about 7 hours to go! I have a lot to do this week, so I need to stay on top of everything.

I have just noticed the side ads as well. I like them, they don’t look too much like ads. You will have to let me know how these are working for you.

Back to work.

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80 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 6:53 PM

Oh wow, 7 hours to go. Darn Dan!!!

Yeah, I still wanted to place certain ads there that people are really wanting but was tired of the same old thing. Just playing around this past weekend and they’re okay so we’ll have to see how they work. Going to all simple ya know!

Thanks Dan, I’m hopping on a mastermind now.

Don’t work too terribly long…

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81 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 8:15 PM

I agree with Dan that it looks fantastic!

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82 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Thanks Ruth, I’m playing with the look.

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83 Janet Callaway
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 7:10 PM

Ruth, aloha. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us. Adrienne, thanks for inviting Ruth to guest post.

Keeping it “real” or personal makes a difference. As you mention, Ruth, you can hear Adrienne’s drawl throughout her posts. You know that she is speaking to you.

On the outline, it depends on how defined the outline is to be. Before writing a post I do jot down a few points I want to be sure I make as well as where I want to start and end. Coming up with the title is often a challenge for me. However, in terms of an outline like I used to do in school, no, I definitely do not do that.

In terms of editing, I have learned that lesson. What I have found is that if I start to edit along the way, my train of thought derails and the post goes in a different direction.

Ladies, what a terrific way to begin the week this is. Mahalo and aloha. Janet

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84 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 8:07 PM

My pleasure Janet, Ruth really does have a great knowledge of writing content and I was so grateful that she agreed to share that with my readers.

I think we are both still works in progress with our headlines Janet but I think that we are getting our points across with our posts so I only see them as improving.

Thank you for your comment and as always, it’s a pleasure to see you. Enjoy your week young lady! I’ll see you in a bit.

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85 Eren Mckay February 20, 2012 at 7:35 PM

Hi Ruth,
I agree that puting emotion into our writing is essential. I find that the more we tune into our passion the more connected we will be with our reader. I don’t want to just survive.. I want to thrive. Creating content that is compelling is a fulfilling experience for us as bloggers and for our audiencse too. Great pointers here!
All the best,
Eren

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86 Colleen Kelly
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Holy cow guys this is so cool! I loved this post and already have it in front of me to re- read and remember.
Okay, questions.. yes, Tell me what you think. Be gentle lol –as Ruth said lol I would like to know what you think of my blog and where I can do better. I know you both have read my blog (that’s amazing to me in itself) lol But I’m new enough not to know exactly what to ask about in ways of help. But I do know you guys are good at this so whatever you can suggest to make my blog a better blog I will appreciate.. This was fun to have you both together like this and today Ruth had her video! Epic day for you both ! and us! ;) thanks guys!! ;) Having advice means alot. :) I think this is really thoughtful ;)

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87 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 8:41 AM

Glad you enjoyed Ruth’s post Colleen and as far a writing content, you can definitely take some tips from her.

As far as your blog goes, I’ll have to get back to you on that one. It doesn’t relate to this particular content so I’ll have to leave that for an email update okay! :-)

Glad you’re moving in the right direction with your blog. Just keep it up and I’ll get with you soon.

Have a great day young lady!

~Adrienne

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88 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 8:38 PM

Colleen, I think you’re making a lot of great progress with your blog – and if you have any content-specific questions, feel free to be in touch directly! Adrienne is the master; she will have great feedback for you!

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89 Colleen Kelly
Twitter:
February 23, 2012 at 7:49 PM

Gee Thanks Adrienne!. I apppreciate it so much Sorry If I misunderstood. I just always hate to ask feeling I’m bothering people. :) Any help would be amazing are you kiddng lol :) have a great day :)

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90 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 24, 2012 at 8:24 AM

No problem Colleen, I have that on my list to do this weekend. :-)

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91 Denise
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 11:39 PM

I recently started not editing my posts until I’m done getting it all out – it really does help things flow – that and creating the outline.

Great simple suggestions!

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92 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 8:49 AM

Me too Denise, I had to quit butchering it to death and driving myself nuts. I’ll only edit something if I didn’t like what I just said but other than that, I’ll wait. So much easier.

Thanks for your comment and enjoy your day!

~Adrienne

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93 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 8:37 PM

Sounds like you’re on the right track Denise! Bravo!

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94 Thea
Twitter:
February 20, 2012 at 11:41 PM

Hi Ruth and Adrienne
Thanks for sharing this post. I loved the bit about Adrienne’s Texan drawl. Ever since I watched Adrienne on video, I ‘hear’ her when I am reading through each post. It adds a personal element and of course is part of her amazing personality which makes it all the more special.
You shocked me with the don’t edit comment, until I kept reading. I mostly make it through the first draft but then I edit like crazy. Is there such a thing as an over-editer? Not even sure that is a word but I fall into that category sometimes.
Lovely to see you here Ruth
By the way Adrienne, I like the design changes you have made since my last visit. Blog looks great!
Cheers
Thea

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95 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 8:47 AM

Hi Thea,

So you guys now hear me talking to you through my posts! That’s so cool and I know what you mean. Ruth and I are in a mastermind together so every time I read her posts I hear her speaking the words to me. I’m able to connect on a more personal level so I know what you mean by that. I thought I was the only one that did that! That’s good to know! :-)

Sometimes I’ll edit when I know that I just said something and didn’t like the way I expressed it. But I will mainly wait until I’m done and then go back over it. I use to edit it to death but not anymore. I wore myself out!

Thank you Thea, I was playing around this weekend and wanted a few things changed. Still not sure I’m thrilled with it but am hoping to win that custom design opt-in box that Martin is doing over on Facebook. So if anyone wants in, I’ve got the link on my Fan Page wall. Nothing like making your blog stand out even more right!

Have a fabulous day Thea and thanks again.

~Adrienne

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96 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 8:49 AM

I know, right!? I think Adrienne has done such a GREAT job engaging with her readers that her content just exudes her personality. And that is a great example for all of us to embrace! The Texan drawl definitely gives us a point of reference, but I’m quite sure that even if Adrienne was from the midwest, we would hear her voice in her blog!

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97 farouk February 21, 2012 at 2:59 AM

that was creative!
i liked “Tell a relatable story” the most
keep it up Adrienne :)

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98 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 8:52 AM

Thanks Farouk and good to see you again. Hope all is well in your world! :-)

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99 Dr. Bob Clarke
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 6:34 AM

Ruth, what an awesome post, and thanks Adrienne for inviting Ruth to post on your blog. Great find!
I think all of your points are spot on accurate, but I especially like your tip on thinking outside the box… and I like your call to action — find your voice and don’t be afraid to use it! Too many bloggers (me included) worry about offending our readers, when we simply need to be ourselves to attract those that wish to follow.

Great post Ruth.. I am heading over to your blog to check it out!

Bob

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100 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 8:47 AM

Hey Bob – it’s nice to ‘meet’ you. And thank you so much for your comments! You should never be afraid about offending your readers – as you scale, it’s bound to happen, even if you try really hard to be ‘nice’. So rather be true to yourself; share your opinions in a way that is meaningful and thoughtful, and you be left with authentic, useful content!

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101 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 9:09 AM

Thanks Bob for your comment and I’m honored that Ruth agreed to write a post for my blog. We can all learn tons from her.

Always appreciate your comment and hope you enjoy her place. You’re going to love her video.

~Adrienne

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102 Harleena Singh
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 6:34 AM

Nice to see you here Ruth & glad you featured her Adrienne!

Those are some great valuable tips, something most of us can use for writing our content. I agree about putting in your emotions and talking in your own voice, especially with so many blogs all over now. You do need to have a distinct voice of your own- one that stands out and speaks for you.

Ah…writing short and sweet posts is something I still need to learn to do, though if you have your post outlined (I rarely work with an outline!!) and written in short points that’s scan-able, even long posts get over really fast- almost like you just started and got over with them :)

Editing is of course something all of us have to do, especially being a freelance writer, as that’s what works for the clients as well putting posts on our blog. But yes, I edit only once the final draft is ready, and the final edit is either done by another person, or I sleep over it and edit it once again with a new set of eyes the next morning – this works best (for me at least!)

Thanks for sharing these wonderful points, guess everyone’s going to love them :)

BTW- I loved the new look your blog has just got Ruth- great going- keep it up :)

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103 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 9:12 AM

Thank you Harleena and it’s definitely my pleasure and I feel so honored.

You being a writer, I felt you would appreciate what she’s shared. Thank you for adding your thoughts on this topic.

I love Ruth’s new look too. Very professional yet simple. That’s a theme she got from a friend of ours. I’ll let her do all the bragging though. :-)

Have a great week Harleena.

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104 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 8:34 PM

Harleena, I can only imagine that these things have become second nature to you, since you are such a seasoned and prolific writer! I’m glad to hear that you concur with my advice and I’m flattered that you like my new look :-). Alex is genius, don’t you think!? And Brankica was a blessing!

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105 Peter February 21, 2012 at 7:13 AM

Thank you for the tip about the white space in blog posts to make them more readable and scannable. I’ve noticed that some people use lots of white space, and I also started to use this concept unconsciously while writing an article. And then I noticed it and thought it is wrong to do, because it makes the text not compact and so it looks not as pretty as it could be.

Now I can see that the ability to scan an article online is far more important than looking pretty. :) The medium makes all the difference, it’s not a book, it’s something on a screen.

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106 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Thanks for sharing that Peter and we all can learn a thing or too from Ruth’s advice. :-)

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107 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 8:31 PM

Peter – I don’t think that the two are mutually exclusive. Why can’t you use white space but still have a ‘pretty’ post? This post, for instance, uses a lot of white space, between the subheads – but it lays out in a very aesthetically pleasing way. The idea is to break your content down into meaningful snippets that are easy to digest. Make sense?

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108 Oliver Tausend
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 10:26 AM

Hi Ruth,

what a wonderful compilation. What I like most is the advice to keep posts personal, just like Christian. Posts such as “The top 10 plugins for Wordpress blogs” are really a dime a dozen.

Thanks for sharing your insights.

Be blessed

Oliver

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109 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 10:52 AM

Thanks for your comment Oliver and glad you enjoyed Ruth’s post. She definitely shared some great tips for us all.

~Adrienne

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110 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 12:33 PM

Oliver – even a post about the top ten best plugins for Wordpress can be personalized and finessed. Adrienne has done a few posts like those and because she shares her own personal experiences with certain plugins, it makes the post much more useful and trustworthy!

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111 John Garrett
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 10:41 AM

Thanks Ruth (and Adrienne)! This is an awesome post.

Outline outline outline. Oh, boy am I bad at this lol.

I even know full well I need to plan my posts out better because I tend to ramble, but instead I jump right in and start typing -usually regretting it when I get halfway through and I’m not sure how to transition to my next point.

I like your definitions of inbound vs content marketing. Those were kind of fuzzy to me, but now I have a simple explanation to latch onto.

Anyway thanks again, ladies, this was very helpful!

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112 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 10:54 AM

Thanks John, always a pleasure to see you and glad you enjoyed Ruth’s post.

I know what you mean by rambling John, I’m guilty of that sometimes too.

Happy you stopped by today and hope you’re enjoying your week!

~Adrienne

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113 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 12:32 PM

From all of the comments John, it seems your not the only one guilty of not using an outline! Try to just jot down quick and dirty bullet points before you start – even that step can make the difference between a good blog post and a great blog post!

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114 Lanre February 21, 2012 at 11:00 AM

The advice in this post is definitely something every blogger should take note of. Sincerely, I have not been following some of these rules but I always try to show my personality and provide helpful content. Thinking outside the box is one of the main reasons why my blog was created and I always ensure that I don’t deviate from this. I’m guilty when it comes to creating an outline but I recently realized how effective this can be for blogging and this post confirms it.
Thanks Ruth, I’ll definitely read this post again.

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115 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Thanks for sharing this with us Lanre..

I’m glad you stepped outside your box and created your site as well. I think a lot of us had to get outside our comfort zones somewhat, at least those who aren’t use to putting ourselves out there so freely. Sure glad we did right!

Glad Ruth’s post was helpful.

~Adrienne

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116 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 12:30 PM

Glad you found it helpful! The list was intended to be a ‘menu’ of sorts – you needn’t use every strategy or tip, but hopefully there is some good, useful information for every blogger to enhance their content.

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117 Sergio Felix
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 1:26 PM

Hello Ruth (and Adrienne),

I really liked your points here, sometimes I do follow them to the T, sometimes I don’t but I’m starting to develop a feeling when I’m doing things right or wrong lately (while writing).

I have a question that focuses on point #3 which is building a brand with personality.

I have been studying blogs for a while and the common factors I have found between the blogs that normally go viral in a few hours, are those that are written in ‘street language’.

Obviously, this is not a standard but I wanted to know what do you think of those authors that write their content using swearing and cursing to trigger emotions on their readers?

Thanks in advance,
Sergio

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118 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 1:42 PM

Hey Sergio,

Thanks for stopping by and checking out Ruth’s post. Will be anxious to hear what she has to say about that. Huh! :-)

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119 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 8:30 PM

Hmmmm….interesting question Sergio!

I think it depends who you are representing. I have cursed on my own blog – not gratuitously, more so to drive a point. And (as Adrienne will confirm), I curse now and then in my ‘real life’, so it’s authentically me on my blog. However, when I am blogging for a client, and representing their brand, I would NEVER use ‘street’ language, unless they indicated that that was a tone they were trying to achieve.

I don’t think that gratuitous profanity is ever really a good business strategy – but to the extent that you are reflecting your own (or your company’s) genuine brand, I don’t think it’s altogether inappropriate.

I hope that answers your question.

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120 Sergio Felix
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 9:05 PM

Hey Ruth,

Rocking answer! This is going to help me a TON with a few projects I have been thinking of, thank you! ;-)

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121 Linda February 21, 2012 at 2:28 PM

I don’t have any questions, but just wanted to say that this was very well written and some excellent points here with writing blog content or any content for that matter ;-)

Linda

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122 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Thanks Linda and Ruth does know her stuff. So if you ever need any advice about writing content, be sure and visit her place. You’ll get some excellent tips.

Hope you’re enjoying your day! :-)

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123 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 8:26 PM

I’m blushing! Thanks so much!

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124 Bill Dorman
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Wow, good to see you at Adrienne’s and of course being late to the party I almost didn’t get in the door; and all these potato chips crumbs seem might stale.

Good post and very strategic; I’m not purposeful enough with my blogging and something I wrestle with if I want to get better. Fortunately some of the points you mention I have just happened to ‘fall into’ so it allows a small degree of success. However, if I would follow your design I’ll bet I could be much happier with my efforts and results.

Thanks so much for sharing, good stuff indeed; but we expect that from you.

I hope your week is going well; I won a 31.5″ flat screen TV at a golf tournament, so my week started off pretty good………..:).

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125 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 4:57 PM

Wow Bill, you won a flat screen TV. I guess that means you’re a decent golfer! Wonder how you’d fair against my 86 year old Mom. She can still swing a mean club. :-)

Thanks for dropping by and checking out Ruth’s post. So glad she shared this information with my readers. Now for us to implement it ya know!

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126 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 8:26 PM

You know Bill, for you, the test is going to be when you transfer all of your blogging prowess to your business. You have such amazing traction as a ‘friendly’ blogger who’s just looking to spark interest and network. But if you used all of those tools to drive your business….I suspect you’d have more flat screen tv’s than you could possibly accommodate in your home!

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127 Carolyn
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 8:39 PM

Wow, Bill, congratulations on winning the TV. I know how much you like winning stuff. Soon you’l be blogging from the PGA Tour!

Bill, I hope you never use an outline. Pay no attention to my comment above. Your stream of consciousness is perfect. Don’t change a thing.

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128 Donna Merrill
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 7:30 PM

Adrianne, Wonderful post chock full of great ideas. The best I like is “Tell a story that will elicit emotion from your readers – share an experience that is relatable.” You need to capture your reader’s attention.” Emotion is proven the best way to do that. It has to be real and from the heart.
Also, as mentioned above The Call To Action. Any call to action is inviting your reader to participate in a conversational way.
Thanks so much for an awesome post,
Donna

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129 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 7:49 PM

Thank you Donna, glad you enjoyed Ruth’s tips.

I know that I’m always drawn more to the content when a story is being woven into it. Makes me feel like I’m right there a good bit of the time which to me makes it that much more enjoyable.

Thank you for your comment Donna, it’s always appreciated.

Hope you’re enjoying your week so far.

~Adrienne

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130 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 8:24 PM

This is a great (and pretty natural) strategy in blogging – it becomes much more challenging when you’re writing corporate materials. But believe it or not, storytelling is a copywriting tactic that works best in ALL industries! It engages the reader in a much more intimate and personal way, so it’s a really important strategy to keep in mind.

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131 Dan Keller February 21, 2012 at 8:31 PM

Wow, I have a lot to learn about content writing. I do a couple of the things you mention but there are certain areas where I need a lot of improvement. For one, I never create an outline, I just start writing. Also, I know I should be interjecting more of my personality into my posts, I am actually working on this. The one thing I always try to do is be helpful :-)

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132 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 22, 2012 at 9:33 AM

Hey Dan,

Welcome to my blog and I think the majority of us are horrible at writing outlines. Even Ruth admitted to not doing it all the time too. I think for more personal posts it might not be the easiest thing to incorporate.

I definitely say to inject more of your personality into your posts because your readers will be able to relate to you more as a real person. You’d be surprised at how well that works.

Thanks for your comment and hope you have a wonderful day!

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133 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 22, 2012 at 1:46 PM

You know what Dan- the first step is recognizing and acknowledging where you need to improve. And you’ve done that! So kudos to you for taking that first step. I can’t tell you how many companies are completely oblivious about the substandard writing they are putting out there.

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134 Michael Beaumont
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 10:06 PM

Ruth, this is some great info, especially for one such as myself that is still relatively new. I has been printed and is in my book of lessons, which I am constantly reviewing. I love your style, simple, straight forward, and to the point. Thanks Adrienne, for allowing Ruth to bring such wonderful advice to us all.

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135 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 22, 2012 at 9:34 AM

My pleasure Michael and be sure to stop by her blog. You’re going to love what she shares!

Have a great day! :-)

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136 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 22, 2012 at 1:45 PM

That is the sweetest comment Michael! Thank you! Make sure to go visit my site – lots of helpful and practical information about content marketing.

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137 Eddie Gear
Twitter:
February 21, 2012 at 10:19 PM

Hi Ruth, Adrienne,

This remind me of the mind map app. It pretty much does everything that you need to write good content.

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138 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 22, 2012 at 9:35 AM

You’re right Eddie but I’ve never been very good with that application. I do better just jotting it down. It takes too much time for me. :-)

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139 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 22, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Hmmm….never used that app; I’m going to check it out!

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140 Eddie Gear
Twitter:
March 1, 2012 at 9:00 PM

its an awesome app ruth, let me know your views on it.

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141 Maninder February 22, 2012 at 5:00 AM

Ruth,

I think, you have covered almost every aspect of writing most appealing content. Thanx for sharing this.

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142 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 22, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Thanks Maninder! I appreciate your support.

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143 sunil
Twitter:
February 22, 2012 at 12:40 PM

wonderful post Ruth…and thanx Adrienne for sharing her post with us. In my most of the posts i start with a question to the users say for example …Are you willing to have iPhone 5 in your hand? then iPhone 5 is going to be your soon as it is going to be released this october. wat do u think is it worth enough to get attention of the users?

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144 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 22, 2012 at 1:35 PM

Hi Sunil – I think that open ended questions that prompt the reader to think work really well to create interest. I would state your question more provocatively – “How badly are you itching to have an iPhone 5?” or “Are You Expecting These 5 New Features in the iPhone 5?” Something that piques their curiosity so that they want to read on…

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145 sunil
Twitter:
February 22, 2012 at 8:26 PM

hmmm nice one Ruth. thanx for the suggestion. :) have a amazing week ahead

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146 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 22, 2012 at 1:38 PM

My pleasure Sunil and it sounds like she just gave you some golden nuggets! Ah yes… :-)

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147 sunil
Twitter:
February 22, 2012 at 8:25 PM

yes u r absolutely correct Adrienne. :)

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148 Ed Welch February 22, 2012 at 3:07 PM

Hi Ruth,

Some good strong pointers there. These are things that some of us certainly have to work on. I like the distinction between content marketing and inbound marketing. That is one that I will have to study more closely.

Adrienne,

Thanks again for sharing this guest post with us . Keep them coming.

Ed.

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149 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 22, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Thank you Ed and I’m glad that you all are enjoying them. I certainly am no expert in some areas so I appreciate their expertise for sure. Glad you enjoyed this post.

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150 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 22, 2012 at 7:28 PM

Thanks Ed for taking the time to comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the post!r

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151 Ricardo Bueno February 22, 2012 at 5:07 PM

I always start with an outline first. In fact, every other day, I sit down and just write headlines. Headlines that match questions customers are asking me in daily conversation, via email, et cetera. I use those questions as my inspiration for the headlines that I’ll late use in emails, blog posts or video tutorials.

Once I have the headlines, I move onto drafting an outline for the post. And as I’m writing the outline, I look for supporting images or case studies. You know, facts to support my theory or lesson.

And finally, I write out my blog post or newsletter, or the script for my video tutorial before actually recording the tutorial.

It sounds like a long process, but it works really well for me and it goes by a whole lot faster than it sounds :-)

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152 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 22, 2012 at 5:19 PM

Wow Ricardo, I’m impressed with your process but it definitely sounds like a great one. It obviously works for you and writing your posts or doing videos around the questions people ask is fantastic advice. Sounds like you could give us a tip or two as well.

Thanks for sharing this with us and glad you stopped by today! :-)

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153 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 22, 2012 at 7:30 PM

Brilliant! Listening is arguably one of the most important steps in writing content that will resonate with your readers! And if your readers aren’t sharing feedback…then ASK! Host surveys or polls; encourage comments; ask pointed questions. And yes, yes, yes…you are SO right, USE that information to craft content that is meaningful. Bravo!

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154 Ken Pickard
Twitter:
February 23, 2012 at 3:11 AM

Adrienne, Ruth,

Ok you first had me with the outline. i don’t formally write an outline for my posts. i do have a good sense of start middle and end, but i sometimes get carried away and an outline probably would help with that.

Then you tripped me up with “Don’t Edit” I had to read that twice and I totally get your point. And I could not agree more with your comments on story telling and being personable. When we blog the way we talk our personality comes through. I see so many people hiding behind this. We don’t want stereo instructions. We want to connect and engage with the blogger and other readers.

Ken Pickard
The Network Dad

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155 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 23, 2012 at 7:23 AM

Thanks for your comment Ken, good to see you here. Glad you enjoyed Ruth’s post! I’ve found it to be very helpful.

~Adrienne

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156 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 24, 2012 at 8:40 AM

Hey Ken – glad you enjoyed the post and I’m so pleased we’ve connected through Adrienne. I love me some stalking :-)

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157 Barry Ranns
Twitter:
February 23, 2012 at 5:57 AM

Hi Adrienne and Ruth,
Brilliant post, with so much information in such a small space. I have to admit to being one who
1) Didn’t fully understand content marketing and inbound marketing, this is something I will have to attend to.
2) I am by nature fairly impetuous, and so my blog posts tend to be written on the fly, with some editing at the end. I do have a mental outline of what I want to write about

I try to write about things I have knowledge of. It is too easy to have a good idea and end up with egg on your face through lack of proper research. I know about that ouch!

Now to implement some of these ideas,

Barry

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158 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 23, 2012 at 7:24 AM

Hey Barry,

Glad you enjoyed the post, always a pleasure to hear from you!

~Adrienne

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159 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 24, 2012 at 8:39 AM

We all get egg on our face from time to time Gary – the key is to recognize the reasons why, and try to do better moving forward. It’s really nice to meet you here at Adrienne’s and thanks for the comment!

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160 Cat Alexandra
Twitter:
February 23, 2012 at 12:21 PM

Dear Adrienne,

Wow, this was a gem here. I’ve been seeing Ruth pop up in your comments for some time now, but this is my first time to sit with some of her fantastic writing.

Dear Ruth,

I will first say – WOW! – fantastic tips here.

I have been delving into this subject for my own personal edification this year, as it’s one of the finer skillsets we may develop as bloggers which equates to better conversions and deeper connections with our readerbases. I think you covered a good deal more depth than I was expecting when I sat down to read this post.

So many takeaways here…but the one that sticks most for me is creating that sense of conversation. I think this is also one of the things that I’m so covetous of, in terms of watching Adrienne at work. She’s pretty much the GURU on this topic and one need look no further than her voluminous comment section to see the evidence of that at work! ;)

Thanks for sharing your wisdom here for us to enjoy. I look forward to checking out your own blog!!

Best regards,
Cat Alexandra

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161 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 23, 2012 at 12:58 PM

Hey Cat,

It was, wasn’t it! I love love love Ruth and she sure knows her stuff. Who else better to learn from right then someone already having massive success in her chosen field. Do be sure to stop by her blog and I promise you, you’ll become a regular reader. :-)

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162 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
February 24, 2012 at 8:38 AM

Wow – my head is swelling! You are too sweet Cat. I’m really pleased that you found the post useful, and I hope to see more of you over at my blog!

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163 Cat Alexandra
Twitter:
February 24, 2012 at 2:22 PM

Hi Ruth,

Glad to connect with you here, dear! :) I’m happy you liked my comment. I think it was indeed a fab share and I’m glad we’re connected now.

Subbing to your RSS and let’s definitely stay in touch!

Have a delicious weekend!!

Cat

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164 Cat Alexandra
Twitter:
February 24, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Yes, it sure was!

I can see why you love love love her! I did pop on over to her site to check out what she’s sharing. Great site she’s got going on over there. I like her point of perspective and can see why she shines! Looking forward to staying connected with this one! :)

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165 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 24, 2012 at 2:34 PM

Thanks Cat, that’s great news… Ruth will definitely make you feel right at home too! :-)

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166 Marcus Baker
Twitter:
February 24, 2012 at 6:40 PM

HI Ruth,

I enjoyed reading all your great advice. It’s good to be reminded of all these points as even if one has been blogging for a while, one can become complacent without even realizing one has done so.

I particularly liked your point about content marketing versus inbound marketing – I had never thought about it in that way and the distinction is very useful and helpful to bare in mind.

~Marcus

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167 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
March 2, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Hi Marcus. I’m still learning about the distinction and interplay between inbound marketing and content marketing. This world is evolving every single day and it’s important to stay ahead of the curve!

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168 Sham February 25, 2012 at 9:04 AM

I have always seen that giving a personal touch to your article saying about your personal experiences and life events have brought a great response from users!

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169 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 25, 2012 at 11:45 AM

People can connect with you on a more personal level when you through something personal in the mix. I know I certainly feel more of a connection. You are right about that Sham…

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170 Donna Merrill
Twitter:
February 26, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Thank you for such a great outline to update how I am blogging! One of the points you bring out its not to edit until you are finished. I find this an easy way to get in that flow.
As I see red and green underlines as I write, I don’t let it distract me. I want my words to flow from my heart and mind. When it is finished THEN I edit it. That is such great advice.
The other thing that resonates with me is that bring a call to action. Always do that! Sometimes I am guilty and do not, but usually I do encourage people to do that. It is blogging 101!
Thanks so much for your advice.
Donna

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171 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 27, 2012 at 9:10 AM

Hi Donna,

Glad you enjoyed the advice that Ruth shared. Always a pleasure to hear your thoughts.

Enjoy your week!

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172 Lenia
Twitter:
February 27, 2012 at 11:20 PM

Hi Adrienne and Ruth,

Ruth I liked a lot the advice provided in this guest post. I follow and apply most of these tips. Off course I am new to the writing and blogging world and I have a lot to learn.
You say that the good post is about 400 to 1000 words… I find the difference between 400 and 1000 very big. If somebody writes just 450 words, tells his story and everything, it is very difficult to finally end up with an article of 1000 words.

Adrienne, this is another good guest post. Congratulations.
Have a great week.
Lenia

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173 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 28, 2012 at 8:44 AM

Hi Lenia,

Thanks for your comment and I’ll let Ruth give her expert advice on this. As you can tell, my posts run way over the 1000 word mark and I do my best to cut that back. I just have way too much to say at times. lol…

Glad you enjoyed Ruth’s post and hope you are enjoying your week!

~Adrienne

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174 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
March 2, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Hi Lenia. 400 – 1000 is indeed a broad range, but that’s what I wanted to provide. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t exceptions – and in my opinion (and depending on the quality of the post, the subject matter, the target audience, etc.) about 750 words is ideal. But anything short of 400 really has to be punchy, direct and meaningful to have impact. And longer than 1000 – and unless you are writing gripping material, chances are the reader isn’t consuming the entire post.

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175 Prakash
Twitter:
February 29, 2012 at 11:43 AM

Be personal and I think we don’t have to be unique with our content ideas. We can take ideas from anywhere but the content should be unique for getting excellency……..

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176 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
February 29, 2012 at 12:12 PM

I believe they go hand in hand Prakash… If you throw some of you in there then not only do you get personal but you’ll add your own unique flavor to it. Best of both worlds.

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177 Raj March 1, 2012 at 3:16 AM

Ruth, totally agree with all your points. But, the one point that stands out, at least for me, is the one about making the content scan-able. As a reader, I can vouch that having short paragraphs with white space helps a lot in engaging the reader. It kind of works in the background but works a great deal nevertheless. And I absolutely follow this guidelines in all my articles and posts and that’s one of the guidelines for our writers at my content writing service too.

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178 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
March 2, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Raj, there have actually been studies done that confirm your anecdotal sentiments. It’s easier to read scannable material on the Internet without a doubt, and as bloggers, we need to consider this reality as we write and format our posts!

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179 Ruth Zive
Twitter:
March 2, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Aw shucks :-). Just came back here to check out any new comments – and this was a lovely little surprise! You guys make me blush.

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180 Shalu Sharma March 3, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Some very good tips to take your blog to the next level. Good quality content will be the key here. Thinking out of the box or laterally would be required. Do something that no one has done before.

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181 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
March 3, 2012 at 8:23 PM

Or just do it “your” way Shalu in your own voice and the rest will follow right! :-)

Thanks for that and hope you’re enjoying your weekend.

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182 Ahsan
Twitter:
March 5, 2012 at 10:39 AM

Content is the King. There is no limitation of learning. For a new blogger like me these tips will be blessing for me.

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183 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
March 5, 2012 at 10:43 AM

It most definitely is Ahsan and I hope these tips have been very helpful. Trust me, you are learning from an expert right here. :-)

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184 Ralph Dopping March 12, 2012 at 7:08 AM

Ruth + Adrienne,
Now there is some SOLID advice. As a relatively new blogger this offers some real and relevant tip to be a better writer. Damn. I am excited. I love to write an this stuff helps in a big way.

When we gey back home (vacationing in FLA right now) this post is going on my wall. What a great resource tool.

What else have I been missing here? Gotta find out. See ya. Soon.

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185 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
March 12, 2012 at 7:50 AM

Hey Ralph,

Ah Ralph, you just put a big old smile on my face. If you want to learn about writing then you definitely need to check out Ruth’s blog. Oh sure, you’ll learn lots more good stuff here as well but she’s the copywriting professional and she has graced me with her presence of sharing her expertise. See, that’s what happens when you start building relationships here online. You meet fabulous people like Ruth.

So glad you enjoyed this post and have a great time in Florida. You need to be relaxing so get off this computer my friend. Go have some fun! We’re not going anywhere that’s for sure! :-)

Thanks for the visit.

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